I came across a story about how an insurance company that targets women tried to screw one of their clients when I was preparing my post titled “Blogging and the Cluetrain Manifesto in local media“. The blog is run by a woman with the pseudonym Mushy Peas on Toast and here is what she had to say:
first for bitches
Wow. I am truly flabbergasted. I know that insurance companies will generally cut corners as much as possible, or cross-examine your accident to confirm whether it was, in fact, an accident, but this has got to be the cherry on the top.
I have accidentally come across possibly the biggest insurance scam of the year.
(Unless of course any of you are aware of this.)
Investing no less than R650/month on comprehensive car insurance with First For Women/First for Bitches has got to be the most misguided personal error of the year on my part.
Oh my Christmas. The lady at the panel beaters phones me, and I was awaiting this phone call, to say that my car will be delayed. Oh but of course. I threw my toys and they agreed to give me a courtesy car. I ask her why the delay?
It so turns out that First for Bitches forced the panel beaters to order a “pirate bumper?? for my vehicle.
My car is a new Beetle. The bumper forms a solid component to the front of my bonnet. It is henceforth more of a panel than a bumper. It takes up one third of bona-fide Volkswagen genuine part of the front of my car. And they wanted the panel beaters to fit something that has possibly fallen off the back of a truck in its place. We’re not talking about a fake VW steering wheel, or lights, or a radio, which wouldn’t make an iota of a difference to my car’s performance. We’re talking about the basis of the front of my fucking vehicle. This part costs about R14 000. With my monthly installments of R650, I am well over paying for this. In fact, I could buy two genuine bumpers.
Unlucky for First for Bitches, the panel beaters kindly informed me of this crookery.
Imagine my surprise when she told me that my car was going to potentially be a chop-shop experiment.
The part, the pirate-bought-on-a-road-in-Lenasia-part, didn’t fit my car as previously thought by the guy who is fixing my car. So he ended up having to order the original VW panel anyway, after sending back the pirate one, or more plausibly discarding it in the nearest dumpster. Hence the delay. The lady said that they frequently have these kind of troubles with First for Bitches. And the panel beater clearly stipulate they are a WV-approved genuine parts panel beater. They are supposedly forced to try out pirate parts first. Especially on older cars (pre-2000). My car is not old.
I am so cross I could literally pooh.
I investigate further, while the woman on the phone is becoming increasingly irate because this conversation could cost her this job, so she is demanding this be off the record.
Auto & General are the umbrella company that own First for Women, Dial Direct, Budget and Auto & General itself. According to her, this practice is normal. All these companies demand pirate parts for the most part, and most panel beaters across the country need to fit them. Because they won’t be paid for the part otherwise.
Another problem is that my car is under warranty. Come my next service in July, and they find that my bumper is not genuine, my warranty immediately falls away. And it would be MY fault. I have to have genuine VW parts in order to keep my warranty.
I frankly told her that I could sue the bejeesus out of the panel beater and my insurance company for fraud. Over a mission statement guaranteeing genuine parts. Which is obviously NOT what they are doing, because these insurers are forcing them to install otherwise bad parts.
I will notify the press across the country in the medium of a sensational letter, CCing the CEO of Auto & General in the process. I cannot wait to cause a scandal. This is my gig afterall. Carte Blanche, are you listening?
So…in a nutshell: If you were by any chance pondering over an exclusive All Women’s Club insurance by the name of First For Women, don’t.
Short-term insurance companies are hardly the champions of ethical business. I have done some work for the long-term insurance industry in the past and have been fortunate enough to do work for a company that was guided by ethical and moral guidelines and not just the bottom line so I have a little more faith in them than in the short-term insurance industry which seems to be comprised of a variety of sharks with one or two exceptions. 1st for Women aims specifically and exclusively for women because:
Men are, generally a higher risk. By eliminating them, we can afford to give you huge reductions on your insurance premiums. Men probably won’t like this but we don’t care. All we care about is your needs.
When they talk about women as being a lower risk they are presumably referring to the fact that women will generally not be wise to their shenanigans and they can save a few bucks by scrimping on repair work. I don’t know if 1st for Women has ever addressed Mushy Peas’ complaint. I certainly hope they have because if they haven’t, they obviously don’t have a clue. Customers are no longer content to grumble about poor service or make phone calls to non-responsive call centres. Customers have voices and express those voices through blogs, email campaigns and any other public tool they can lay their hands on. Companies that ignore this growing and empowered force do so at their peril.