Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Paper Chase

I’ve never been very good with multi-paged documents. My eyes see complicated lines of small print and when I finally sit down to read and fill it all out, mistakes come naturally. The insurance agent must be pulling her hair out by the roots over my repeated foul ups with the documents required for insuring the contents in my new “old” house in the country. Email has made a lot of things easy and fast, but I was reminded today that had I gone to the agent’s office in person to handle the paperwork all the mistakes could have been avoided. But who wants to drive 100 miles round trip when a click of the send button can do it all in three seconds?

My first mistake was giving the agent an optimistic value of the contents to be insured. My fault in not realizing that the premium would soar if I put a slightly bloated value on my books, paintings and furniture. Call it a duh moment. Receiving the nine pages of documents (email) and shocked by the amount of the premium, I quickly called the agent and said it was too high, to lower the estimated value of the contents. A new premium was easy for her to calculate, but it meant I had to go through the nine pages, crossing out the old value and old premium, writing the amended numbers in and then initialing all the places where something was crossed out. Sound easy? Trust me to complicate it. The next screw up was me dating five pages incorrectly, writing May for April. And then the photographs of the house I sent were missing a side view. When last out at the house taking pictures it didn’t occur to me the insurance company would want a side view. Suppose I should have guessed that.

With half a dozen paper cuts, ink stained fingers and both my scanner and email limping, I shelved all that and moved on to new customer business with the power company. This time no real paper was required, only a telephone and the patience of Job. I would like to strangle the person who first conceived of long telephone ‘conversations’ with a machine. It only took about ten minutes to find a telephone number online for Florida Power & Light. Companies are getting very stingy with phone numbers these days, something hard to figure since an employee is rarely required to field telephone calls.

Ten minutes later my call was answered by guess what? It wouldn’t be half as bad if the recorded voice did not assume that every caller is a complete moron. “Did you say the 15th? Please press 1 for YES or 2 for NO. If you don’t know, press 3.” In opening a new account with FPL I answered recorded questions for a full fifteen minutes—why do they need my high school locker combination—before being transferred to a living representative who asked the same questions all over again. He verified my email address six times over the course of our conversation.


  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. I can only imagine the face of the insurance agent during all of the e-mails and texts! But I agree with you on filling out forms and when one begins to fill out little squares on the computer and has to have a password for doing everything including using the rest room, I jangles one's nerves.


About Me

My photo
Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America