Saturday, August 10, 2013

The StateFarmKiada

I was reminded once again this week that bureaucracies be they of any type, governmental, corporate, educational, cultural, have, on occasion, perhaps on too many occasions, a Kafkaesque and Voinavichain quality to them.

As some of you may know I had a car accident in January of this year. I was driving home from my teaching job in Oneonta on I88 when I ran into a blizzard while coming up a hill near Duanesburg, New York. I had moved over into the passing lane because I was coming on the US 20 interchange at Duanesburg and I wanted to give incoming traffic a path onto the freeway. Big mistake it turns out. At at the top of the hill my Honda Fit hit an ice patch and slid and slid eventually ending up in a guardrail. I tried to turn off cruise control but was too late. Long story short: car totaled.

The crash was only the beginning of my nightmare. I had to, of course, buy another car because I commute to my job seventy some miles away. I decided upon a Ford Focus because it is heavier and thus hopefully safer than a Fit (a great car for local commuting) and my friend Bonnie Weddle had one and I liked it for a number of reasons. So I borrowed money from my credit union and got a Focus.

Since I bought a new car I had to change my automobile insurance and this is where the nightmare continues. State Farm twice told me they needed only the bill of sale from Crossroads Ford in order for them to do this. I contacted Crossroads three times to make sure they faxed the bos to State Farm. Mission accomplished I thought to myself for I never heard another word about the bill of sale from good old State Farm. Mistake.

Well last week I discovered that someone or something had scratched the passenger side of my car from the front door handle to the back tail light. As you have probably guessed dear reader I don't live in the safest of neighbourhoods in Albany. I live in a neighbourhood that has experienced burglaries, car break-ins, and seen car tyres/tires slashed. Anyway, I called State Farm to tell them and to see if this repair will be covered by my insurance and they told me that part of my insurance had been cancelled because they had never received my bill of sale.

After several days of frantic investigation I discovered that State Farm did receive my bill of sale. But they lost it. And while State Farm apologised and did the mea culpa samba the bureaucracy with its computerised play book still marched on like the dim witted plots of English detective fiction. I received a letter from State Farm the day I discovered the damage to my car that some of my coverage had been cancelled. Today I received three notifications from the great insurance bureaucracy, one contained a cheque for the amount of coverage cancelled because they didn't get my bill of sale they lost, another said my coverage had been restored, and another asked me to pay $227.91, the monies they refunded me via cheque when they cancelled parts of my coverage as a result of them misplacing my bill of sale. And to top this surreal Kafkaesque and Voinavichian nightmare journey off State Farm now apparently expects me to pay to send the cheque back to them or pay to write another cheque and send it to them. My time and effort in this--my time and effort should be, in a capitalist society, money, shouldn't it?--appears to be as irrelevant to them as does the question of the morality of them asking me to pay for their mistake does.

The moral of this tale dear readers? Dealing with bureaucracies, public or private, governmental or corporate, is often akin to waking up and finding that you have turned into a giant insect. The other moral? Perhaps it is time to consider Amica.

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