Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Level Of Your Cheapness Astounds Me

So, I work at an insurance company--pretty sure we established that--and, I open a lot of mail every day.  A revolting amount of mail.  So much mail that there is a serious danger of me getting a repetitive stress injury of some kind, during the wielding of the letter opener (which needs sharpening, by the way, because...I open a lot of freaking mail).
What I have found is that among our insured, there are a lot of very, very cheap people.  Also, these very, very cheap people are people of strong faith.  Allow me to explain.
The insurance industry is so far from going "paperless" that I fully expect to attend my grandchildren's high school graduations before anyone in the business even considers it.  And, just so you know, my children are 13 and 15, and neither of them has expressed any desire to have children just yet.  That is how far away from "paperless" we are.
We send and receive enormous amounts of paper.  Every department and every sub-department has stuff that they mail or fax, and stuff that they receive.  Mountains and mountains of it.  The building where I work has 4 mail drops a day.  FOUR.  I work mostly with the Sales pile of mail, which takes well over an hour to open, daily, well over two hours on a Monday.  To that, you may add two fax machines that are almost continuously printing.
We are quite serious about pieces of paper because of all of the documentation the law requires, so when we get it, we date it, then copies of copies are sent to various other people in order to legally verify that you are asking for whatever it is that you are asking for, and it all has to be in somebody's hands before the sun goes down on the 7th day or whateverthefuck the deal is this month.  If you want to apply for insurance, file a claim, pay your premium, or tell us to fuck off, we expect you to do it within a certain time frame, otherwise, you're screwed until the next month because the Gods of Insurance Timeliness and Law say that we can blow you off if you don't adhere to our schedule.
Because we send out a LOT of mail, we get some of it back--people move, or they die, or they just don't want to buy what we're selling, so we see a fair amount of "Return to Sender".
This is where the cheap people come in.
"Return to Sender" is not priority with me--I look at that pile of mail about once a month, and usually only when it is starting to clutter up my desk. 
You'd think that the only thing we would find in returned mail is stuff that WE had sent to other people, wouldn't you?  You would be wrong...
Yesterday, I found three checks for premium payments (dude, you're late, we cancelled your insurance), four requests to cancel insurance (dude, you're late, we're billing you for another month), and a few random claim requests, and some applications for insurance that they wanted to be in effect on January 1st.  The cheap people had taken some envelope of ours, in which we sent them something completely unrelated to a payment or an application, took our stuff out, put their stuff in, marked "Return to Sender" or "Refuse" or something on the envelope, and threw it back in their mailbox.
Because stamps are so damned expensive.
I would call this a complete leap of faith.  For one thing, you don't know what the mailman is going to do with that envelope.  Also, if the mailman DOES return that piece of mail to this building, it will almost certainly go to the wrong department, because if there is one thing we have a lot of, its departments.  Personally, I don't deal with anything pertaining to payments, so when I open a piece of mail and a check falls out, I start to look around for the hidden camera.  Then I have to figure out which of the 27 departments that DOES accept checks is supposed to get your particular check.  This takes time.
I am certain that these people of great faith, who believe that we have the time and desire to dig through returned mail to search for their premium payments and insurance applications, are the same people who call our customer service department and complain that they SENT it, so WE must have LOST it.
People, people, people...I'm busy.  Damned busy.  Busy as hell.  It is only because I am a nice person that I even bother to re-route the crap you were too cheap to put a stamp on.  92% of the people in this building wouldn't bother.  I am not kidding.  They're busy, too. 
I don't claim to know how much a stamp costs, but I have to believe that it is not prohibitively expensive--I mean...if you can afford to pay an insurance premium, TRUST ME, you can afford a freaking stamp.  And envelopes.  And perhaps some nice stationary for that "You guys suck" note that you included with your cancellation request.  And probably a new car.  Insurance is expensive.
This morning on my commute I couldn't stop thinking about the cheap people.  I tried to picture what they would be like on a date, or what they would be like to live with.  Miserable.  Absolutely miserable.  This from someone who considers themselves quite frugal.  I picture them stuffing their pockets with ketchup packets at restaurants and emptying the packets into a bottle at home.  Scary business.


  1. A stamp is $0.42 -
    Billpay online is free.

    Guess which one I use ALL THE DAMN TIME!

  2. Even more astonishing is the fact that I GOT YELLED AT because nobody in my office believes that someone would be so RETARDED as to put the current business in a "return to sender" envelope. Yes, yes...you got me! I just enjoy hiding stuff in the nooks and crannies of my desk and holding on to it for months and months, just to f*ck up other people's days. Jeeeezuzmarynjoseph...

    I swear to god, people, I don't make this shit up...it would be far less amusing to me if I made it up.


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