The customer? What’s that?

One of the first things I understood about business is that you need to take care of customers. Equally you need to take care of staff, investors and suppliers, but customers are absolutely vital. There used to be a saying which went something like ‘the customer is king’. That saying must have disappeared with the advent of equality, but the principle still applies, at least to most of us in Enterprise Britain.

Like many of us I have insurance on my home. It is there as a backup and I have always avoided making a claim. The last time I did was 16 years ago and it went like clockwork. The insurance company could not have been more helpful. Now it seems it is a whole new experience.

I live in a great part of town, but on busy weekends we get some rather loud people walking or should I say staggering through the street. On Sunday evening there was a loud bang against my front door and the dogs went wild. So I went down to check what was happening and found a group of young adults, about 6 of them, fighting in my driveway. Rather than risk getting drawn in I quietly closed the door and my partner called the police.

It turned out that my decision was a good one. As I walked back I found glass on the floor and it turned out someone’s head had been pushed rather violently through my leaded glass front window. The police stopped two of the girls in the group (the police had arrived rather swiftly – thank you police!) but because I had not seen the head being pushed through the window (only the outline was left – sadly no blood) it was my problem. The girls of course knew nothing.

So I called my insurance company. Going through the inevitable menus I was treated to a tape of about a minute telling me what would happen to me if my claim was found to be fraudulent. My understanding is that if I left out any detail anywhere on anything in my life, the claim could be considered fraudulent and I could face something dreadful – in any event something much worse than the perpetrators of the damage.

Being an upstanding citizen (or so I believe) I decided to risk it. Of course I was not particularly happy with the taped lecture following a rather distressing event, but chin up. Someone finally came to the phone. My identity then had to be verified. After all, I was probably a fraudster, so best to be safe.

The insurance representative started by telling me I would have to pay the excess to the window installer before they could start the actual repair. I was also told that my premium would go up and I would lose my complete no claims history. With all this settled, I was asked what the claim was for.

A national window installer was sent down a day later to look at the damage and to make a temporary repair. Even he advised me to pay for the damage out of my own pocket as the insurance company would force me to pay a lot more through the excess and the increased premiums.

What I do with the repair remains to be seen. The insurance company tells me to talk with the repair people about the estimate and the repair people tell me to talk to the insurers. Neither really gives a s..t. I guess I will get an estimate from a local firm which has always treated me well – like I would expect from someone from Enterprise Britain.

The insurer? Well I guess I have Fred G. to thank for this. I did not realise how far down the line the new attitude goes: ‘the customer? What’s that?’

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