Trust in Times of Twisted Metal

I seem to have some difficulty with cars. As I mentioned, while stopped I got into a car accident two weeks ago, when another car rammed me. Since then I have been endeavoring to fix my car. I visited a body shop the very next day, reported the accident to my insurance company (as required in my policy), and began communicating with the at-fault insurance company. They transferred me down the line repeatedly, and I finally found the right person to talk with. He told me he would be in touch, and a few days later contacted me, saying that the owner of the vehicle wanted to come by to inspect the damages, to determine if they were truly as much as the body shop had claimed. I told him I couldn't meet at the requested time, but I would be amenable to visiting a different body shop of his choice, to determine the amount.

We met a couple hours later, and the body shop he chose determined that the price was about $70 less- around $1030. They determined that one part was hard to find and it wouldn't be possible to replace it as cheaply as my body shop had thought, but they also found that another part wasn't torn off- it only appeared so if you didn't look at the car symmetrically. (Underneath it has a purposely torn look.) This difference in price was fine with me- it's basically the same. The insurance rep took pictures, and alluded to some mysterious issues with his client that he couldn't discuss because of confidentiality, but he would get back to me. I was thinking if he hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have wondered about the mysterious issues. The rep has the feel of a man who is endeavoring to obey the law because he has to, but who is a consummate salesman, and not to be trusted. At one point at the body shop, the rep suggested there were a couple ways to go. "I could, for instance," he mused out loud, "give you in cash directly a smaller amount of money, say, $400." I absolutely refused this, saying if I ever wanted to sell the car in the future, it needed to be fully repaired. I told him I needed the full amount of money to go directly to the body shop for repairs.

A few days later, this past Monday, he still had not contacted me, so I called him. He apologized, saying his client had still not contacted him, but he would immediately get in touch with them, and call me back. I filled out a Wisconsin Accident Report, as required by law for any accidents over $1000 in damage.

Today, he still had not called me, and so I called him.
This is when it began to get weird. The insurance rep insisted up and down that we had talked, and he had told me that the driver had decided to pay out of pocket, and that the driver would be contacting me directly to arrange this. (The driver is not the insurance holder.) This is despite my repeated instructions to him that I did not want to be involved in payment- that I wanted this all to be covered and paid to the body shop directly. This was also despite that conversation never happening. He never called me back. He never told me that the driver was going to pay. I know this, because if he had, I would have told him that this was unacceptable- as I told him today. Paying through an individual is too dicey, if there is further damage that is not yet found, or if checks don't clear. So I reminded him of this, and further reminded him that the conversation never happened. We went around on this a few times, with him stating that he had made a record of the conversation, and my telling him that was rather immaterial, since we hadn't talked. It ended with him saying that, now that he knew the driver had not contacted me, the rep was back on the case, and would be contacting the driver and insurance policy holder shortly.

I then immediately went to my insurance company, Geico, with whom I have only liability, but who is there to assist me also in dealing with other insurance companies if they are recalcitrant. Geico immediately began to intercede and speak with the insurance rep, and will follow up on Monday. They were very surprised that the insurance policy holder was desiring that their insurance not pay, but instead that it happen through the driver, especially considering that I had expressed that this be paid through insurance. We'll see now to what extent Chuck Rafferty Insurance maintains ethical standards.


Anne Gearhart said…
I'm totally with you on not going under the table on this. Not only do you want to make sure that you can show repairs for any accidents on your VIN, it is my opinion that anyone trying to avoid going through the Insurance companies probably wants to avoid the act appearing on their driving or insurance record. And, I think, anyone who *backs*up*in*traffic* is a traffic hazard.

Good luck!
Omar Poppenlander said…
Why is that a 'consumate salesman' is not to be trusted? Do you take a negative view of all salespeople?

If so, that's too bad. There are those of us who believe that sales is a spiritual gift.
@bdul muHib said…
No, and probably poor word choice on my part. My dad and brother are in sales, and both are very good at it.

I don't really have an opinion on if sales is a spiritual gift- though convincing people certainly is. But there is a certain type of salesperson, rather common in this country in my experience, who will try to do everything possible to get you to buy an item, even if they know you don't need it and shouldn't get it. They lack a testimony to truth. Their approach is the reason Quakers long ago lead the way in tagging prices, rather than haggling and changing prices depending on what the seller thought they could get out of the buyer. And they extend that in trying to get someone to go with what they want, to buy their item or idea, through pressure and intimidation and even deceit, short of illegality. This is the feel I get from this guy, without of course being able to say he's definitely doing that. It's a feeling. No matter how many times I tell him I don't want to deal with anyone but him, no matter how many times I tell him I want to go through insurance, he keeps on telling me, yes, that will be no problem, and then leaves a message saying these other people will be in contact with me and we've found a way to do it without insurance. He'll call me and suggest that we agreed to things in conversations we never had. I've run into this approach quite a bit when dealing with salespeople. I don't appreciate being manipulated.

I think the "hard sell" is inherently unethical. Sadly, I don't know that our country could run without it.

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