Venting Vicariously

Here in the blogosphere among my fellow bloggers I’ve come to know is Bud, a transplanted New Englander from SoCal as he often refers to it.   (That’s southern California for those of you east of the Rockies.) Bud’s blog Older Eyes always keeps me coming back for more of his perspective from… well, his Older Eyes. 

Bud’s livin’ the dream. Married for more than 40 years and now a retired Electrical Engineer he’s living off the fat of the southland and seeming to enjoy life at it’s fullest. That’s not to say life’s road has always been easy for him and not without a few pot holes along the way… but, it’s been a charmed life nevertheless. At least from my point of view.

Recently Bud wrote a blog about one of those (hopefully) rare challenges we’ve all had to face. The experience he writes about is not unlike some I’ve had myself nor — no doubt — like a few of your own. It’s one of those I’m as mad as hell moments and because I love Bud’s style I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe you can relate?

What follows below are Bud’s words …  Once you’ve read them feel free to get up and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Or… just leave a comment. Thanks as always for stopping by. And remember, Caveat emptor!


A little over ten years ago, when we bought our house in Anaheim Hills, I bought a ten-year term insurance policy with Transamerica Life Insurance for the amount of our loan.   It was very inexpensive and the plan was to keep the policy in effect until the term expired.  The term expired in April of this year and I thought nothing of it … until a week ago.  In looking at a rarely used credit union account, I noticed a deduction of ten times the original premium paid to the insurance company.   … and when I looked further, I found this had been being deducted monthly since April.  I knew immediately what had happened … they’d continued the policy at the rates for a sixty-seven year old man.  But I’d never authorized them to do so.   I immediately contacted my credit union and asked why they’d pay such an increase without contacting me … they told me to deal with the insurance company even though I’d purchased the policy through them.  Hmmm.  I contacted the insurance company and told them they’d done this without my authorization and that I thought they should refund my premiums since April.    Yesterday, I got a long obsequious letter filled with phrases like We welcome this opportunity to be of service to you and We appreciate your business.  The letter told me how to cancel the policy and informed me that they’d sent me two courtesy letters (courtesy letters?) telling me that the premiums would increase, so they could not refund my money.  Is it possible I missed the letters?  You betcha.  But it sure seems to me that a ten fold increase should require written authorization.

Are we eating peanut butter and jelly for dinner because of the lost funds?  No, we’re lucky, but I’m sure I’m not the first retiree to have this happen and I’m sure there are others who could not afford the expense.  I’m pretty sure that the Transamerica Life Insurance Company has done nothing illegal, although I intend to look into it.  Maybe there’s nothing I can do.   But hold on … I can vent.   Hold on … I’m a writer.  I can write a hell of a complaint letter to their so-called customer service department.   And I can get one Postaday2011 out of that letter:

Dear. Ms. ______,

 I received the letter dated October 20, 2011 regarding my Trannsamerica term life policy and the increased premiums that I did not authorize.  I have already mailed the surrender form as you suggested and it does not surprise me at all that you will not repay the premiums – the fact that you would increase them tenfold without authorization pretty much said everything about your company’s view of customer service, so-called courtesy letter not withstanding.   Whether the letters were actually sent, lost in the mail, or missed by me is irrelevant – I am out $____ that was not intended for life insurance.   I suspect everything you did is legal.   While Transamerica seems to talk about customer service, companies that actually have customer service don’t fall back on legalisms when they betray the trust of a customer.  That’s what makes it such a joke that your letter includes phrases like, “We welcome this opportunity to be of service to you” and “We appreciate your business.”

I’m old enough that I’m unlikely to be buying more term insurance but I certainly would not be doing business with Transamerica.  I will certainly let everyone I know, both in person and online, how helpful you’ve been (that would be sarcasm) and I will be filing complaints with whatever agencies I can find that will listen.  It may do no good at all and you probably don’t care but it will make me feel better.  It has certainly not been a pleasure doing business with you.

Older Eyes
Disgruntled Former Customer

I don’t know about you, but I feel better.  I hope you’re not doing business with these clowns.

Bud’s original blog

9 thoughts on “Venting Vicariously

  1. I had an experience with an insurance company that left a bad taste in the mouth. I purchased a small (also reads all I could afford) policy while in the service, made my payments faithfully for 20 yrs. One day I get a phone call from an unknown agent that with my old outdated policy I could get twice the insurance at the same price. Sounds too good to be true right? Well normally when I get a policy I look at the outside and throw it in the lock box and put it in the safe, never to be seen again. Some feeling told me to read this one through.

    Well it was too good to be true. The original policy (Whole Life) had increased by almost half. The NEW agent had cashed it in and purchased a term policy at twice the face value of the original policy and paid the first years premiums. If I hadn’t read the policy after one year I would have had to pay premiums about 10 times the original policy with no cash value. Needless to say the company was stepping all over itself to reinstate the policy and fire the agent so I wouldn’t sue. I have never trusted an insurance agent since.

  2. Thanks for the repost, Rick. Interestingly, in response to my letter.I received ANOTHER letter explaining to me why everything they did was on the up and up, and once again assuring me they appreciate my business and hope I was satisfied with their service. Just plain clueless. I may need to vent again.

    1. Unbelievable!

      What they did may have been legal, but certainly not ethical. I hope we all can find some satisfaction in letting off steam from time-to-time.

      Thanks for the update and keep us posted here if there are any new developments.

  3. I too read Bud’s original post and it made me think about a lot of things I was really jacked out of shape about and maybe I should write a rant of my own -not about insurance though -but somehow, after reading Bud’s words and absorbing them, thinking about stuff, I got busy and eventually calmed down a tad.

    I’ve always been a strong believer though in insurance -something that was drilled into me by my grandparents and my Mom… Insurance, to me, is akin to Unions (or maybe it’s the reverse) but anyway, necessary evils. However, it doesn’t or shouldn’t be made to be really evil by some shyster ripping people off in the process either, should it?

  4. This is another example of the mind set held by all too many people in this world today. Get all you can get, as quickly as you can, and ethics and/or legality be dammned. When we begin to look into the recent economic meltdown we find this same mindset displayed by those in all walks and levels in life. To quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

    Good luck to Older Eyes. I hope he gets his money back and some form of satisfaction out of all of this.

  5. Yes, we all have our own talents. We should write rants, or do whatever it is that we do best to educate others about what’s “wrong” in our society today. We are, After all, Americans, with the right of free speech.

    Which reminds me, there is a golden opportunity right now, for those of us with more experience to make a greater impact than normal: Most cities right now have gatherings of young people who are also “mad as hell” about the lack of values in business today. All that most of them know, is that there has been a disconnect in the system, and they can’t see any means right now to restore our parity as citizens. Please, drive down to your local Occupy (your town) gathering. Walk over and start a dialogue. Most there are bright, caring, young adults. We can learn a lot from them, but more importantly, we can create opportunities to mentor them.

    The youth of each generation always create the future. Isn’t it our responsibility to make sure that they have the intellectual and moral tools to discern what the true priorities could be? Let’s engage them in dialogue, both written and oral. Let’s not waste even one lesson we have learned. Let’s pass it on.

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