Thursday, March 15, 2018

Reposted review of USAA circa 2003

Don't mind me.  I'm just saving this old USAA review I wrote 15 years ago.

  • Very disappointed...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      September, 08 2003
  • Pros: Usually inexpensive. Most agents are friendly if you don't have a claim.
    Cons: What on earth has happened to their customer service?
    First of all, let me say that I've been a USAA policyholder since 1991 and my parents have been policyholders for years. My husband has been a policyholder since 1984. Up until recently, I had a lot of respect for USAA auto insurance. Why? Because I never had to make a serious claim. Unfortunately, as some of you who have been reading my editorials know, I have recently been the victim of a crime. My car was broken into and the driver's side window was smashed. My dashboard was torn up and the CD player was ripped out, though not completely stolen (the guts of it are still hanging by a wire in my car). Ever since that unfortunate event, I've been dealing with USAA and hating every minute of it.

    The saga of my crappy experience started on August 28th, when I called USAA after discovering my car had been violated. I got an agent on the phone right after I called the police. The police were busy dealing with another break in that had occurred at the apartment complex next door, so I could only give the agent some preliminary information. I had to make an appointment to get the glass taken care of because my husband and I were going to be taking a trip to Tennessee the next day. However, there was a big pile of glass on the driver's seat, so I couldn't exactly sit down and check to see if the engine had been damaged or the heating or air conditioning had been ruined when the CD player was unceremoniously yanked from the dash. The glass repair service had no mobile service appointments available until the following week, so I set one up for then. But then my husband told me to change the appointment for the next day, which meant I'd have to drive to the Safelite office to have the work done. That meant I'd have to clean the glass up myself.

    After the police left, I called USAA again to give them the police report number and more information about the damage to my car. I told the woman I spoke to that I was worried that my heating and air conditioning might be damaged. The reason I worried about this was because in the past when I'd had CD players installed in my car, the climate control had been adversely affected. The woman I spoke to got very snippy with me and acted as though I were trying to get more money out of USAA by expressing this concern. She asked me to go check this out for sure. I told her that there was a big pile of glass on my seat, so I couldn't very well start the car with ease. So she suggested that I start the car from the passenger's seat! However, there was also glass on that seat and half my console is hanging from the dash! Plus, the knobs from the air conditioning and heating unit have been torn off. I explained this to the woman, but then I said "I'm going to have to remove most of the glass anyway because I have to drive the car to the Safelite office to have the window fixed tomorrow." Then, her tone suddenly changed. She was worried about me cutting my hands! She proceeded to tell me about the Safelite mobile service, which I would have gladly used had a timely appointment been available. Safelite's mobile service had fixed a couple of small cracks in my windshield a couple of weeks before anyway.

    Luckily, I had some gloves available, so I was able to clean up most of the glass without cutting myself. I found out that my air conditioning and heating weren't damaged. I called USAA again and told them so, and wanted to find out what came next. I was told that my claim would further be handled by a company called "First Choice", which would issue me a new stereo and send me to a body shop to have the dash fixed. Great... I thought to myself, the ball is rolling. I was told I'd be called within 24 hours. But we were going to be leaving town the next day, so I covered the window the best I could and the next morning, got it replaced.

    Meanwhile, I decided I might want to find out more about renter's insurance. Actually, I had wanted to get it a year ago, but my husband kept saying it was too expensive. This time, I decided to buy it whether he liked it or not. I called USAA to ask questions about the application and the next thing I knew, I was talking to a woman about quotes. She was practically salivating to sell me a policy and I was ready to buy one. But then she noticed that I had a claim. She suddenly said, "You know what, we're going to have to send your application to our underwriters and get back to you. Are these phone numbers still good?" She listed the ones we had provided. I affirmed that they were. She led me to believe that she or the underwriters would call me right back. I did just hear from them today and they agreed to cover us. However, I felt like I had been dropped like a hot potato when I spoke to her before because she spoke as though we'd hear back right away and then we didn't. Moreover, she had been really nice to me, but then when she noticed I had an auto insurance claim in, suddenly we weren't such sterling candidates and her attitude seemed to change noticeably. USAA did come through in the end, but for ten days I felt really second class and let down.

    On August 29th, I called First Choice myself and told them I'd be out of town. I was told I'd be contacted when my husband and I got back on September 4th. We went to Tennessee, had a stressful trip, came back and on the 4th, I was all set to get down to the business of getting my car fixed. I called First Choice again and was given the name of the man who would be handling my account. I was told he'd get ahold of me right away. Of course he didn't, but I had to go to my husband's office, so I had my husband call and see if he could get the guy on the phone. My husband called and it turned out the man I was supposed to talk to was on vacation. So another fellow took over my case, sort of on the fly... except he didn't seem to know what he was doing.

    This guy said that he couldn't ascertain how bad the damage to my car was. He said he could send me to one body shop, but they might not be able to handle the repairs and so it might be better if we went to another shop further away, but then that might be inconvenient for us. He hemmed and hawed about it, seeming very incompetent until my husband offered to take pictures with his digital camera and email them to the man at First Choice so he'd have a better idea of where to send me. The guy agreed that might be a good solution to his dilemma. My husband wouldn't have minded taking the pictures, but why should he have to do that? And why did he have to come up with that idea? The fact that he did made First Choice, a company that deals with USAA, look incompetent and amateurish. But then it turned out that when we came home that evening, there was a message telling us to call USAA because now they were going to handle the situation with my dashboard... or were they? Sheesh!

    So I called USAA and got an agent on the phone who didn't know what to do and hadn't heard anything about this new plan for them to handle my claim. She got a supervisor on the phone who put me on hold. While I was on hold, I listened to the same Muzak song over and over again. I cannot express in words how much I loathe Muzak. Finally, the supervisor said that she would set me up with a body shop near my home. Great... I thought to myself... now we're nearing a solution! Yeah, right. After about 30 minutes, First Choice agreed to send me a new stereo and told me where to have it installed once my dashboard and console are fixed. The USAA supervisor told me she'd set up an appointment with the body shop and they'd call within 24 hours.

    Friday morning, the 5th of September, I hadn't heard from the body shop. I gave them a call and they said they hadn't heard from USAA. I figured USAA was just unusually slow on the uptake, so I decided to give them more time. But I never heard from the body shop all day on Friday. I called the body shop Saturday, but got an answering machine.

    This morning, September 8th, I called USAA again and asked if they had sent the body shop my information. They assured me that they had. I called the body shop again and they said they still hadn't received the information from USAA yet. So I called USAA back, entered their phone maze, and was disconnected. I called again and spoke to another agent who told me that the information had been sent. I told her that the people at the body shop had told me otherwise. So the agent said she'd fax the information again while I was on the phone with her. I just got a call from the body shop and set up at long last, an initial appointment, thank God. Dare I think it? What the hell... Great... now we're FINALLY nearing a solution! Or are we? Stay tuned, because I'm sure this tale isn't finished yet.

    By the way, I've already sent a nice hate letter to the CEO. It may do no good at all, but I feel better.

    Update

    Got a stereo on Friday, September 12, 2003 and the people at the body shop agreed to install it next week when they get around to fixing my car...

    Update #2

    I just received a very nice call from a local USAA rep about the letter I wrote. The customer service rep assured me they were looking into what had happened and I updated her on what was going on with my case. I do have faith that USAA has good intentions and at least my letter didn't go ignored.

    Update #3 (Oct. 4, 2003)

    Today I received letters (not form letters) from both Robert G. Davis, CEO of USAA and Henry Viccellio, Jr., President of the Property and Casualty Insurance Group. The phone call I received from the USAA rep was referenced, so I have faith that this unfortunate incident will be an isolated one. In my mind, USAA has redeemed themselves, and I'm happy to report that after a month, my car is finally completely fixed.

    Update #4 (Dec. 9, 2003)

    My poor husband is having to deal with a billing nightmare stemming from the fact that we added renter's insurance. Remember, we had to pay for the whole premium upfront? Well, we did pay, but some ding-a-ling at USAA didn't credit us for paying that premium. Instead, they applied that money toward our car insurance premiums and started underbilling us. For the past two months, we've been paying for the renter's insurance and not paying enough on our car insurance. My husband did call after each weird bill to confirm that the amounts were correct and he was told that they were. This month, he was billed $70 more than what he was expecting to have to pay. When he called USAA for an explanation, he was told that (so sorry) they had screwed up. They said that in order to fix the problem, he could either make a huge payment in January, or pay a little more each month to make up the difference for the amount that we hadn't been paying. My husband was, of course, LIVID. We wondered why we should have to pay for USAA's mistakes. My husband looked over the bills again and found two more errors on the bill.

    Taking a cue from his feisty wife, my husband has also sent a letter to the CEO. He has gotten placating calls from customer service reps at USAA... none have offered to do what is right, however, that is, eat the amount that they botched on our bill. We're looking into changing auto insurance companies unless USAA can make this right in short order and to our satisfaction.

    Since I originally wrote this review, I have gotten a couple of requests for the CEO's address. We've also been talking to my husband's co-workers at the Pentagon and more than a few of them have had bad experiences with USAA lately. My husband warned USAA of these developments in his letter to the CEO. USAA also recently sent me a survey regarding my customer service experience with them that I had to complete truthfully. Unfortunately, I couldn't rate my experience with them very highly. This is pretty sad news for what was once a great company.

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