Insurance Companies that Suck

This is a post relating my personal experience with auto insurance over the last nine months.  It’s been quite the roller coaster ride.

I had been with Progressive for over ten years.  The only claims I ever had were for glass (a total of two).  My cars were with them, my motorcycles, and my RV.  All was good in the world.

Then last Spring, I discovered more money in my bank account than belonged there.. upon research I saw that I hadn’t been debited for my car insurance for several months.  Since I ride a motorcycle 99% of the time, I wasn’t really worried about it since my truck is parked in a secure location the rest of the time.  Still, I called in to find out what was up.

“Oh, your policy didn’t auto-renew for some reason.”  “Can you fix that?” “No, but we can start a new policy for you, but you will lose all of your discounts.”  “WHAT!?  How much will that be?”  The number ends up being DOUBLE what I had been paying.  I politely told them to get bent.

I took out a policy with Allstate.  It was for my only vehicle, my Dodge truck.  The price wasn’t great, but it was way better than Progressive.  I told my ex about this, as she had been on my policy before, and that she’d need to get her own.  So she called up Allstate and got her own policy.

A month or so passes.  I login to print insurance cards or something (I forget exactly), and discover that my truck is no longer listed on the policy.  Instead, her car is listed, and her address is listed (but under my name).  WTF?

I called them to find out what was up.  They had no explanation at all.  No audit trail or anything to find out how this happened, but once again, I had been uninsured for over a month.  They did try to blame it on me because of my ex.  Typical.  Again, I told them to get bent and went elsewhere.

Next up, State Farm.  I bought the policy online.  I never got anything in the mail from them.  I had to call a local agent to get a copy of my insurance cards, since I could never login to the website to get them myself.  It always said that part of the site was unavailable.

Now today, January 2nd, I hear from them that my policy canceled last night because I had listed myself as married (mistakenly) and hadn’t provided her information.  I explained what was up and that she had her own policy; but that we don’t speak so I couldn’t get them any other information.  That wasn’t good enough.  In fact, they said odds are good they couldn’t reinstate me anyway, though they would try.  I said you know what, nevermind.  Just cancel it and get me my money back ASAP since they JUST DEDUCTED IT FROM MY ACCOUNT A COUPLE DAYS AGO.  Another WTF.  Because I need that money to get yet another insurance policy ASAP.

Oh — almost forgot. They said the reason I never got anything in the mail was because they found an old address of mine from a Life Insurance / Renters policy I had in another state, and decided to use that one as the mailing address.  Not like they ever asked or anything.

So there you have it.. three insurance companies that suck even more than usual.  At least for me.  I know plenty of people have good luck with them, but I sure haven’t.

 

Posted in Automotive, Insurance | Leave a comment

Are you part of the Problem or part of the Solution?

Driving these days pretty much sucks.  I used to enjoy it.  But now-a-days, it sucks.  Why?  Because so many motorists on the road are selfish or oblivious, or some combination of the two.  It’s simply not possible to go anywhere without stress because of these morons.  And odds are good I’m talking about you.

On the roads, you are either part of the problem, or part of the solution.  Far too many people are part of the problem.  They’re the ones who pay virtually no attention to what’s going on around them or what lane they’re in.  They don’t give a rat’s ass about moving over and letting anybody else by.  Why should they? That might require them to actually think.  Besides, they can list so many reasons why they shouldn’t, usually ones like, “well, he’s going too fast,” or, “I don’t like what he’s driving,” or, “He’s not from around here,” etc.

Here’s the deal.  I don’t care if it’s in town or on the freeway.  USE YOUR MIRRORS.  Consider what lane you’re in.  Basically, unless you plan to turn left within 1/4 mile, you have no business in the left lane.  If somebody comes up behind you, do the courteous thing and move over for them.  USE YOUR SIGNAL.  Take it as a hint that maybe you’re in the wrong lane.

It has always been a rule that SLOWER TRAFFIC should KEEP RIGHT.  Again, that applies to freeways and in town.  The left lane(s) are used for passing.  There are always going to be other cars that want to go faster than you.  There may be cars that want to go slower than you.  The slower cars should stay to the right.  That includes you, except when you’re passing those cars.

In my time here in Oregon, I have never seen a bigger group of brain-dead, inconsiderate morons behind the wheels of automobiles.  They will camp in the left lane as if they own it.  Guess what?  YOU DON’T OWN THAT LANE.  Just because you’re in it doesn’t mean you own it.  Have you ever noticed those white signs on the right side of the road that say, “SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT” ????  I think those signs actually need to be on the left side, in the median.

I’ve noticed that the right lane has become the new left lane.  90% of the cars on the road occupy the middle and left lanes.  The remaining 10% are in the right lane, trucks notwithstanding (they’re a whole ‘nother issue which I’ll cover in a separate post).  I’ve gotten to the point that I use the right lane to get past the clumps of slow moving traffic in the left and center lanes.  But it shouldn’t have to be that way.

The problem is, besides being oblivious and inconsiderate, people are lazy.  They don’t want to have to think.  They’d rather set the cruise control and just camp in their lane and play with their phone, talk with their passengers, or whatever.  HOW DARE somebody expect them to actually DO SOMETHING for them.  Why, that’s akin to giving them all your money!  Or so you’d think.

Speed isn’t the problem on our roads.  Lack of lane discipline is.  Those of you who are content to travel at the arbitrarily set number on the speed limit signs, great, have fun.  But stay to the right.  It’s not your job to block the rest of us who want to go faster.  Speed limits exist for ONE reason:  revenue.  That’s it.  There’s no reason traffic has to be so limited.  Look at the roads in Europe; in Germany in particular. Those roads, which from an engineering standpoint are vastly inferior to American roads, are able to handle traffic at much higher speeds, and I’m not even talking about the unlimited speed limit areas of the Autobahn.  Over there, you STAY TO THE RIGHT.

My own personal experience is that when traveling with a clump of traffic is asking for trouble. Every single time, some dumbass will try to change lanes without looking, and we’ll have a near miss.  How the hell they miss me in a giant Dually Pickup (with my headlights on too) is beyond me.   USE YOUR MIRRORS AND TURN YOUR HEAD.

I could take this a lot farther and go into how lack of driver training and politics is to blame for much of this (and it is), but I’m not going to do it right now.  For the time being, how about being part of the SOLUTION instead of part of the problem?  Try being considerate, and everybody will be happier.

Posted in Automotive, Gripes | Leave a comment

My Take on the NYC Motorcycle / Range Rover Incident

By now, I’m sure most everybody has heard about the incident in New York City involving a bunch of motorcyclists on a group ride and the driver of a Range Rover.  If you haven’t, Google it, read up on it, then come back here.

Based on everything I’ve read, I believe there’s a huge miscarriage of justice taking place.  The driver of the Range Rover should be up on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and use of too much force in self defense, or some combination thereof.  So far, no charges have been filed against him.  Instead, five of the motorcyclists and one undercover cop have been arrested.  Meanwhile, the guy that the Range Rover driver hit is instill in the ICU with massive injuries and will likely be paralyzed for life.  This guy wasn’t one of the ones attacking the Range Rover either; he was ahead of it, on his bike.

Regardless of what the bikers did — even if they did start the incident, which I don’t believe for an instant — the Range Rover driver had absolutely no business punching it and running down other riders.  None whatsoever.  He was safe in his vehicle.  Had they broken his window, he would have reason to drive away, but still not punching it and running people down.  But it wasn’t until after the Range Rover ran down the other riders that the real attack began.

I read just yesterday that there have been witness reports that the Range Rover actually started the entire incident well before the helmet cam footage began.  He reportedly already knocked at least one bike over, and then tried to run, which is why the group swarmed him, and the rider ahead of him brake-checked him to try to get him to stop.  When the guy finally stopped, they started crowding around the car to find out what the deal was.  Then the guy, who claimed he was in fear of his life, decides to punch it and mow some of them down.  Yeah, sure.  I don’t buy it at all.

In my opinion, based on what I’ve read, he was already pissed at the motorcycles for whatever reason.  He was messing with them, and hit at least one of them and tried to run.  They caught up to him, which is going to happen.  Then he decides in anger to run them down and claim it for defense.  And they caught up to him again, and this time they kicked his ass.  He deserved it.  His wife and kid did not, but he did.  That’s where the bikers went too far — attempting to attack his wife.  But after the driver ran down the other rider, it was open season on him.

Hopefully prosecutors will figure all this out and the bastard will get charged. At the very least, it’s a safe bet that the family of the paralyzed rider will be having quite the lawsuit against the driver.

To recap:  While I can’t condone what the motorcyclists were doing, I can’t overlook the fact that even if the incident wasn’t caused by the Range Rover initially, the guy used entirely too much force in “running” from them, and he needs to answer for it.

Posted in Motorcycles, Politics | 1 Comment

Leaving iOS for Android!

Two years ago, I went from a Motorola Droid X (Android) phone to an Apple iPhone 4S.  At the time, I hated Android.  It was buggy, unstable, and nowhere near as friendly as iOS.

Now, two years later, I just made the jump back to Android.  I went to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and jumped from Verizon over to AT&T.  For me, AT&T had a better plan than I could get on Verizon.  Having been a Verizon customer since 2007, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous.  Hopefully I won’t end up regretting that decision.

As for the phone… in a word, WOW!  This thing is amazing.  Android has come a long way in two years.  As a power user, I’m remembering just how flexible Android is compared to iOS.  This phone will be truly useful now — it has a real file system, which I can access and manipulate.  I can, for example, browse to a website and download a file (say, a PDF), and save it.  Then I can load it up with Acrobat Reader.  On iOS, not possible.  All the apps are sandboxed and can only access documents within their own relative sandboxes.  This has always been, in my opinion, iOS’s major drawback.  There are some ways around it, but they’re not terribly convenient.

What really drove me to switch was iOS 7.  I upgraded on the day it was released.  Initially, I thought it was pretty slick.  The new functionality is, for the most part, very nice.  The one thing I really didn’t care for is the new Photo app.  But what I really disliked was the new appearance.

In an attempt to look more “modern,” somebody at Apple got the bright idea to “flatten” everything out, go with a pastel color scheme, and strip all the class out of the appearance that has been a trademark of iOS since the beginning.  It just looks awful.  And it’s not just the icons.  The apps themselves are the problem.  They’ve just dreadful looking.  They’re flat, all one color (usually white), and in many cases, things that used to be buttons now look like web links.

A friend in Texas got an iPhone 4S about the same time I did, and decided to switch too.  He switched first — he replaced his wife’s 4S with a Galaxy S4, and then got himself a Note 3.  He wrote up a very detailed email about all the new features.  Having read that, I had to see it for myself, so I went over to the local Best Buy this past Saturday to have a peek.

The Samsung booth there had a great employee named, “Justine,” who was nice enough to give me a very nice demo of the phone.  I was blown away!  The only thing I wasn’t sure of at the time was which carrier to use — stay with Verizon and upgrade, or switch.

By the next morning, I decided to give AT&T a try, so I went over to a Corporate AT&T store to pick one up.  For a brand new account, I’d rather get it started there than at a Best Buy.  If I do an upgrade later, I have no problem using Best Buy or another retailer.

So, the new phone.  The first thing an iPhone user will notice is the size of the Note 3.  It’s HUGE.  It has a 5.7″ screen with a full HD 1080×1920 display.  It has a higher pixel-per-inch resolution than the iPhone’s Retina display, and looks absolutely stunning.  It uses Samsung’s AMOLED technology, which has always been, IMO, better than Apple’s.

To clarify… I am neither an Apple fan or hater.  I do like a lot of Apple’s stuff.  I switched to a Mac almost four years ago and haven’t regretted it in the least.  They’re vastly superior to Windows in every single way.  So it does feel a little weird moving back to Android.  I’m giving up some of the cohesiveness of the Mac/iOS setup.  I’m losing PhotoStream (not a huge deal), iCloud (which allows certain apps to sync data between iOS and Mac), which is a bit annoying until I find a work-around.

Android, while a huge improvement over  years past, still isn’t perfect.  There are some things about it that I would like to change or improve.  The auto-correct feature is pretty annoying.  It flat out will not allow you to type certain “offensive” words unless you dig into settings and disable that “feature.”  In some cases it still won’t.  You can’t add words to its dictionary to avoid having to hit the “skip” arrow so it won’t replace it with it’s assumed corrected word.  I’d like to have more than seven screens (a home screen and three to either side).

Things I love about Android — the Swype feature.  Rather than typing out stuff the old-fashioned way, you “swype” over the keys and it knows what you want to say.  Google the term for more info; it’s impractical to fully explain here.

I love Widgets.  This is something Apple could stand to implement.  These are little programs you can put on your various screens to do stuff like display the weather forecast, show the last few tweets, a snapshot of your inbox, or many other things.  These widgets are great, but they can also take up a lot of space, hence why I’d like more than seven screens.

In the case of the Note 3, I absolutely love the stylus! You can handwrite on the screen and it auto-converts it on the fly to text.  There’s a note-taking app that you can handwrite on, and it will sync it to Evernote.  It’s pressure-sensitive too.

One of the best features, which I think is exclusive to the Samsung phones, is the ability to run two apps side by side (well, technically, veritcally)… for example, you could have a web browser open on top, and be texting somebody below it.  Plus you can drag and drop content between the two windows.

I could go on and on, but there are plenty of good reviews of the Note 3′s capabilities out there.  I really wanted to blast iOS 7 for sucking visually.  I think Steve Jobs would strangle whoever came up with it.  Remember — it wasn’t Johny Ive; it was another department within Apple.

 

Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

A Horrible Customer Service Experience at Cabelas

While reading one of my favorite forums this morning, mention was made of Cabelas.  You know, the giant outdoors chain that has been growing in popularity across the country.  Cabelas used to be one of my favorite stores, but since mid-2009, they’ve been on my shit list.

I usually won’t hold a grudge, at least not for very long.  But in this case, I’ve made an exception.  Enough of one that I’m here blogging about it some four years later.  I have yet to get any satisfaction from the incident, so I will do anything I can to persuade people to avoid the place and shop elsewhere.

In early Summer of 2009, I purchased (via their website) several hundred dollars’ worth of camping supplies for an upcoming multi-day ATV trip.  After the trip, I decided to return several of the items I ended up not even taking with me (due to lack of space) and one item because I simply didn’t like it.  Cabelas has always had a very liberal return policy, which is one of the reasons I liked the place.

Since I had family in Reno and there was now a store there, I decided to return the items while on a visit. It was far simpler than shipping them back.

At the customer service counter, I was helped (a term I use loosely) by some little blonde girl, whose name now escapes me.  I doubt she was older than 20 or 21.  I didn’t have the receipt, but I knew everything was in the computer under my account, since I had been buying stuff from Cabelas since 2002.

The prissy little bitch tells me that, “you’ve returned too many items without a receipt,” but she would be, “nice” and help me out.  I said um, what?  And she proceeds to list everything I ever returned dating back to 2002.  Note that back then, there was no store in Reno, so if I had to return something (which was rare), I had to ship it back.  I always included a printout of the receipt I got in email with the order.

But it seems they use some sort of “return tracking system” to prevent “abuse” or whatever, and they want to penalize me for something I had no knowledge of, since nobody had ever said there was a problem in the past.  Being a bit irritated, I said very quietly (almost to the point of mouthing it without sound) that I thought this whole situation was bullshit.

At that point, she excused herself.  She came back a few minutes later with the customer service manager named, “Brian.”  Brian was a very large Mexican dude who looked like a body builder.  He stood there with his arms crossed glaring at me while she finished the transaction.  Apparently my quietly declaring the situation to be bullshit was enough to rattle her nerves that she needed her big bad customer service asshole to come play bodyguard.  When complete, I thanked them and said you don’t have to worry about be returning anything again, because I will never be back.  They said that was good to hear and suggested I leave.

How’s that for being made to feel like a criminal for trying to return something?

I went home, furious.  I promptly wrote a very long letter, describing the entire encounter in detail, and emailed it to the Cabelas corporate office in Sidney, Nebraska.  I made it clear that the problem was with the customer service manager as much as the employee, which was why I was contacting them.

A few days later, I got an email response, apologizing and saying they will forward my email to the customer service manager at the Reno store.  WTF??

I replied, explaining again that the whole point of contacting them was because the problem was with the customer service manager, and the last thing I wanted was for them to be forwarding this matter to them.  I went on to explain that the sheer incompetence on display was enough to prevent me from ever having anything to do with Cabelas again.

Needless to say, I got no response of any kind.  So to this day, I have not patronized Cabelas, and do not plan to again unless I find out that this matter was actually handled in an appropriate manner.  And given their lack of interest back then, I seriously doubt anything will ever come of it.

Nowadays, when I need outdoor stuff, I shop at places like REI, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Sportsman’s Guide, and so on.  But I do not shop at Cabelas.  I will not set foot in any store where a customer is made to feel like a criminal.

 

 

Posted in Gripes | Leave a comment

Oregon Dunes At Risk

I received this today:

http://www.sharetrails.org/alerts/2013/01/15/oregon–comments-needed-on-oregon-dunes-10c-designated-routes-project-deis

It looks like they’re once again trying to shut down, or severely limit, OHV recreation at the Oregon Dunes.  If you enjoy riding there, please take five minutes and send off a letter to support our efforts to keep it open!

 

Posted in Environmentalism, OHV, Politics | Leave a comment

Kayak Rolling Class

I attended Portland Kayak‘s Rolling Class last Sunday (the 28th).  Thankfully, it was held in the heated pool the same as with the Rescue Class from a couple of weekends prior… since Oregon weather this time of year tends to be cold and rainy.

This is a fairly short class, at only two hours.  But it’s one instructor for two students, so you get plenty of attention and practice!  Our instructor this time was Mike, who is apparently quite the accomplished roller of kayaks.  He makes it look so easy… and really, once you learn from him, it actually is.

Mike starts out by getting into one of the kayaks and breaking the roll down for us.  He first leans over and backward, with his paddle outward.  He uses a paddle float on the end to assist with bracing so he can concentrate on describing what’s going on as he does it.

Mike demonstrates part of the rolling technique

After doing this a few times, he goes all the way over, and just as seamlessly, rolls back upright.  It’s amazing to watch from our un-initiated point of view!

Now it’s our turn.  He holds the kayak and tips us slowly while describing what he wants us to do, how to position our paddle and our bodies, etc.  After a few of these, we go all the way over and start learning how to find our starting position and properly do the sweep with our bodies and paddles that results in the kayak rolling back upright.

We each take turns doing this for a while, and then Mike starts tipping us over in “less than ideal” positions to force us to learn how to find our starting position when we weren’t already there in the first place.  Of course, he’s always an arm’s length away if we need him.

By the way, nose plugs are strongly recommended!  I would also recommend ear plugs if you have any trouble with getting water in your ears.  I wish I had had some; I ended up nauseous about 2/3 of the way through and had to get out and just watch.  I will re-take the class after the first of the year and have earplugs this time.  I’ll also make a point of not eating lunch so close to class time.

Once again, it was a great class!  I strongly recommend this class and also the Rescue Class to be properly prepared when you’re out kayaking.

Posted in Kayaking | 1 Comment