TOM UTLEY: Now that I am semi-retired, I’ve time to combat faceless corporations

Have you ever ever felt like the complete company world is out to tear you off? Then don’t be concerned. You are most likely not loopy since you’re proper.

Anyway, that is my expertise this previous week, after I’m locked in a battle with two family identify companies — one an enormous within the insurance coverage business, the opposite an enormous participant in residence safety.

I hope you’ll forgive me if I converse of my sufferings on this place. My excuse is that I guess numerous readers have comparable tales to inform about how huge corporations deal with their prospects, and the inventory reply to any cheap plea nowadays is: ‘No laptop.’

So let me start with the fascinating thriller of why my constructing insurance coverage firm thinks my home is eighteen.5 p.c extra prone to collapse, collapse, or catch fireplace as a result of I used to be born in 1953 than after I was born in 1935.


The query arose after I acquired a letter from Extra Th>n, the provocatively named agency that underwrites Royal & Solar Alliance’s insurance policies, inviting me to resume my cowl for this yr from subsequent Tuesday.

I observed at a look that the premium for the approaching 12 months was 10 p.c increased (or relatively ‘extra’) than final yr.

However, being the cheap man that I’m, I reckoned the necessity was adequate. That is as a result of inflation is quick approaching 10 p.c, a determine that is already excessive within the development business, and I will want their providers if my home wants transforming.

So as to add additional, I will level out that its coverage remains to be less expensive than the buildings insurance coverage I’ve had from one other agency for the previous three a long time, earlier than I moved final yr.

Solely now do I understand that every one these years I used to be a sufferer of the insurance coverage business’s behavior of punishing prospects for his or her loyalty. The longer you stick with a specific group, the extra it can profit you.

The lesson, after all, is to buy round – however for a lazy outdated codger like me, who is not superb on the web, it is terribly annoying.

Anyway, I figured I could not discover a higher deal elsewhere, so I attempted renewing my coverage on-line.

He stated no laptop. Despite the fact that I entered my coverage quantity and date of beginning 3 times, the identical message continued: The corporate had no file of the coverage for that quantity matching my date of beginning.

'I racked my brain trying to think of any reason why my house should be considered a huge insurance risk because the computer was 18 years younger than I first thought.'

‘I racked my mind attempting to consider any purpose why my home ought to be thought of an enormous insurance coverage threat as a result of the pc was 18 years youthful than I first thought.’

the hell The one factor to do was to ring the ‘Buyer Renewal Line’ offered on my invoice, and I braced myself for queuing till judgment cracked. (Oh, how I sympathize with Tony McBride of Leamington Spa, who complained in a letter revealed in Tuesday’s Mail: ‘Why do companies by no means reply to emails or telephones?)

After what appeared like an eternity of listening to annoying music and recorded messages, I gave up on my first try. However after I walked the canine I attempted once more.

This time, miraculously, an actual human answered my name. And a useful one.

Someplace alongside the road, somebody modified the final two digits of my beginning date in Extra Th>n’s laptop system, rendering it 1935 as a substitute of 1953.

‘I left it for you,’ stated the useful girl, and I thanked her. However then she added: ‘Only a second, I wish to see if that can do any good to your premium.’

The lengthy and wanting it was that since I used to be 68, not 86, her laptop stated I must pay an additional 18.5 p.c to insure my residence.

I used to be shocked. I racked my mind to consider any purpose why my residence ought to be thought of an enormous insurance coverage threat as a result of it was 18 years youthful than the pc first thought.


Are folks of their late 60s like me extra possible than octogenarians to burn down our homes or see London fall to the bottom? Or are 86-year-olds much less prone to file insurance coverage claims? I ask within the spirit of harmless inquiry.

The useful girl who answered the telephone couldn’t enlighten me. Extra Skinny’s shopper public relations supervisor was unavailable after I known as him yesterday, however he kindly stated he would get again to me after asking round. On the time of writing, seven hours have handed and I’m nonetheless ready. Clearly, this isn’t a simple query.

Name me an outdated cynic, however I feel the insurance coverage business will use any excuse to entice its prospects for more money, thus including to the distress of inflation. And do not even get me began on power corporations with their big income, as my knowledgeable colleague Alex Brummer offers with them elsewhere within the paper at the moment.

Nevertheless, my annoyance with Extra Th>n is nothing greater than my anger on the method I’ve been handled over time by multinational burglar alarm firm ADT – one other group that apparently believes in punishing buyer loyalty.

Rewind to final fall, when an ADT engineer got here to repair our historic system (a builder had unintentionally minimize a cable). He informed me it was past restore and suggested me to improve to the corporate’s newest wi-fi tools, which might be higher and cheaper.

On October 14th a really good salesman got here round and he promised to avoid wasting me cash and I signed as much as have the outdated system eliminated and the brand new put in.

Nicely, this wi-fi system prices me £419.88 a yr in lease and upkeep, versus the £391.99 I paid final yr for the outdated one. However it appears extra believable, what’s £27.89 lately? Not more than two packs of cigarettes.

What’s extra, he assured me that after 18 months, I might maintain the system with no additional annual expenses.

I assumed this was a fantastic deal. That was till my invoice for contract renewal arrived earlier this month: annual lease and upkeep for the brand new system, £923.66! What silly factor did they take me for?


It did not assist that I seemed for alarm techniques on the web, and I might purchase an analogous one from ADT for a one-off cost of £320, with no additional expenses. ceaselessly

With smoke billowing out of my ears, I despatched a livid electronic mail to ADT’s accounts division saying there will need to have been a mistake with that exorbitant invoice. From an deal with in Bratislava, Slovakia (which didn’t encourage confidence), the division replied that it couldn’t amend my invoice. The pc stated no.

So subsequent I known as the quantity given for bill enquiries. No, I used to be informed there was nothing fallacious with my invoice. The brand new system is taken into account an improve and is subsequently charged along with the cost for the system eliminated by ADT.

'With smoke coming out of my ears, I sent a furious email to ADT's accounts department saying there had been a mistake on that exorbitant bill.

‘With smoke popping out of my ears, I despatched a livid electronic mail to ADT’s accounts division saying there will need to have been a mistake with that exorbitant invoice.’

‘That is the way it works,’ stated my new tormentor. However he put me again in contact with that silver-tongued salesman – who admitted the invoice was fallacious.

‘Give me two days and I will repair it,’ he stated. That was two weeks and two days in the past. No phrase from Bratislava since then.

The scary half is that years in the past, after I was juggling full-time work, I most likely resigned and paid that invoice. In reality, I guess there are a lot of different victims of gentle coughs, unintended or in any other case, as a result of they only cannot deal with the hurdle of a authorized confrontation.

However I’m a modified man now and time is on my palms. Mrs. Yu all the time tells me to discover a passion in my semi-retirement. Pursuing company chancers by small claims courtroom could also be simply the factor.

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