Throw away phone numbers

I’m sure people who work in sales ask themselves all the time “Why do people never call back when I call them?”

Here’s why. I had to renew my car insurance this month. I received the bill from my current policy and wanted to compare rates. So when I saw some ad or heard something about insurance in a radio ad, I went to a website and looked for a quote. I don’t remember where I was, or how I got there, but I answered some questions and expected a reply. The amount of information you need to give to get a auto policy is considerable. I felt a bit uncomfortable with it, but at least I didn’t have to give a VIN number, so I guess it could have been for any similar cars.

But there’s no escaping getting a little personal. That’s why I do two things. I don’t give my real address and I don’t give my real phone number. I have a post office box and a cell phone and I use those for all the things I want to deal with on my own good time, rather than in the middle of dinner! You can’t ring my doorbell on the PO Box and the cell phone goes to voicemail when I turn it off.

So, anyway, with the first of June coming up quickly, I went ahead and paid my car insurance through my current company. No more worries.

Then I start getting the messages on my cell phone. “Hi, I’m so-and-so with Acme Insurance. I have a quote for your auto insurance of $98 a month.”

Well, it’s a good price. I paid mine by the year, but even without asking for a discount for that, it was a good quote. But it was too late. I’m not going to switch now.

And I’m not a newb at buying car insurance either. Two years ago, I shopped around on the internet and got a quote that saved me $600 a year. The company (Progressive) turned out to be extremely easy to deal with too. Almost everything I needed was done online and the one time I had a hitch, one easy phone call set it straight. I even spoke with someone who seemed like English was their first language, not Hindi or Ebonics…

My previous agent called me to ask why I hadn’t renewed my policy and I told him what I had done. He took it well, and promised to call me the next year. He did and beat the rate I got online, so I switched back to his company.

But this year, I decided to renew with him again. How much more could I beat the price down? Then the guy on the phone gives me a rate that is too low to believe. I’ve already played the game and pitted my insurance against one of the top discount copmpanies. More than likely, had I switched to the phone offer, it would have gone up because of some detail that would be uncovered in finalizing the policy and I’d be back where I started, but with a new company and agent.

One of the things I like about dealing with a local agent, and why I’m maybe willing to pay a bit more, is the personal contact. My agent handles all my life insurance, homeowners and car insurance. He understands things like what stage of my life I’m in and how things with the local economy affect me. He’s been to my home and I consider him a friend. So I am reluctant to jerk him around with Mr. Cold Call’s offer. Even if it was in time.

But, the bottom line is, when I can get a quote online from Progressive, eSurance and a dozen other companies, why do I have to put up with the hard sell over the phone? All I wanted was a dollar figure right then, not after the due date of my policy. That’s why I use a throw-away phone number and address.

Okay, it’s not really throw-away. I DO use the cell phone and PO Box for other, conventional reasons. The cell is a cell and I carry it with me quite often. The PO Box is a huge security benefit. All my bills come to it and collect them when I’m ready, so they don’t get tossed on the coffee table and forgotten. And those credit card offers, or statements with the blank checks inside, hard to steal from my PO Box!

Posted in Rants

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