The Pain of Paperless

A paperless society is fast taking over in many spheres of life, but especially in the world of Insurance.  No forms in an envelope delivered in the post.  No filling them in, taking copies then posting the originals back – in another envelope, with a stamp.  I’m all for saving trees and our planet but living in a paperless society comes at a price.  – – – – SANITY.   In this regard I do hope you will excuse the somewhat sarcastic tone which developed.

This wondrous conversation took place just before we decided to leave South Africa to live in Spain.

“Good morning.  Telcare Claims Centre, Mbali speaking, how may I assist you?”

“Good morning Mbali, I would like to make a claim against my policy, for damage to my car.”

“May I have your policy number please?”

“Yes, it’s AG718718712.”

“I now have all your personal and policy details on my screen.  What is the nature of your claim, Mrs Patras?”

“Someone scraped my car when I was parked at the international airport.”

“I need to advise you Mrs Patras, that we do not issue written claim forms, all information is taken from you telephonically.  This conversation is being recorded and you are reminded that any false information given may invalidate your claim.”

“Yes, I understand that. No problem.”

“I will need to take some particulars of the accident.  Can you tell me what happened?”

“I was parked in the short term parking lot at the airport and someone scratched my offside rear door whilst I was inside the terminal building waiting for my passenger.  I only noticed the damage after I arrived home.”

“Were you able to drive the car after the accident?”

(????)  “Yes.  That is how I got home.”

“Where did the accident happen?”

“I told you, at the international airport.   O R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.”

“What street it that on?”

“Given the size of the place, quite a few I would imagine.  But I don’t know offhand.  Would you like me to look it up for you in my road atlas?”

“No, I’m sure our office will have the details.  When did this occur Mrs Patras?”

“On Monday 22nd November some time between 05:25 and 07:55am.”

“But you don’t know exactly what time this happened?”

“No, I was inside the airport building.”

“What was the lighting like?”

“Fluorescent I would imagine, like in most big buildings.  It was quite nice actually.  They’ve done a really good job of improving the new International Arrivals Hall.”

“I meant outside where the accident happened Mrs Patras.”

“Well, normal daylight.  You know, like you get on a summer’s morning.”

“Was it raining?”

“No.”

“Did you brake?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Did you brake when the collision occurred?”

“I told you, the car was parked.”

“Were you using indicators?”

“I wasn’t even inside the car.”

“Were there any witnesses?”

“I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there.”

“You weren’t there?  Where were you?”

“In the International Arrivals Hall, you know, the new one with the nice lighting!”

“Was anyone injured?”

“I bloody well hope so.  I hope the bastard who scraped my car split his bloody head open on impact!”

“This conversation is being recorded.”

“Good, otherwise I doubt anyone would believe this.  I really hope someone gets to listen to it.”

“Did you report the accident to the police?”

“Why the hell should I waste my time doing that?”

“It is a requirement if anyone is injured.”

“But no-one was  injured – to the best of my knowledge.”

“But you said someone had split their head open.”

“No,  I said “I wished they had”.  And as there weren’t any half-dead people lying around when I got back to my car – and more’s the pity – I can only assume the offending party left unscathed.”

“Did you get the name of the other party?”

“No, it must have slipped his – or her – mind to leave me a nice little note with name and insurance details on it after they’d stuffed-up my car.”

“So there was more than one car involved in the accident?”

“Yes.  Mine and someone else’s.”

“But did two cars hit your car Mrs Patras?”

“I wouldn’t have thought so.  What makes you ask that?”

“Well, you said ‘they’ Mrs Patras.”

“It was a figure of speech Mbali.  I was merely referring to ‘the person’ who stuffed-up my car.”

“Do you have any other information about the accident?”

“Yes.  It was a blue vehicle that caused the damage.”

“What make was it?”

“Now let me think.   Which manufacturer makes blue cars?  Well I guess that could be just about any make – apart from possibly a Ferrari.  It wasn’t hit by a Ferrari.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well I can’t say I’ve ever seen a blue Ferrari.  Anyway, the scratch is too high up on the door.”

“But how do you know it was a blue car Mrs Patras.  You said you weren’t there.”

“Because my silver Audi didn’t have a long blue scratch on the offside rear door before I parked it.”

“Will you be making a claim from the other party?”

“Are you sure this conversation is being recorded?”

“Yes.”

“And could you please spell your name?”

“M-B-A-L-I.  Why Mrs Patras?”

“Oh, I just want to make sure the person listening to this recording has ALL the information here.”

“I need to advise you Mrs Patras that your excess on this claim will be R3000.”

“Why R3000?  My policy says R2500.”

“Yes, but there is an additional R500 excess if you claim against the policy within the first year of it being issued.  And you will also lose your no-claims-bonus status.”

“Right.  I see.”

“You will need to take your car to one of our Assessors for damage authentication.”

‘Where is the nearest Assessor to Fourways?’

“Let me see.  Ah, there is one in Benoni.”

“Do you know where Benoni is in relation to Fourways Mbali?”

“No, I don’t drive.”

“Ah, I rather thought you wouldn’t.  Well Mbali, for future reference with your clients, I can tell you that Benoni is about as far away from Fourways as you could ever possibly get without leaving the vast boundaries of Johannesburg.  Do you have anywhere a little closer?  New York, Sydney, San Francisco, or Randburg perhaps?”

“I can get you an appointment in Randburg at 7:30am tomorrow.”

“That’s most kind of you.  I just love being in rush-hour traffic.  Do you possibly have any time a little later?”

“11:30?”

“Thank you, that would be far more preferable.”

“Thank you for calling Telsure Mrs Patras, I will now process your claim.   Is there anything else at all that I can help you with today?”

“The actual physical address of the Assessor would be useful.”

“Oh, it’s 2112 Braam Fischer Avenue Mrs Patras.  Would you like me to give you directions?”

“Oh, I don’t think so Mbali.  I REALLY don’t think so.”

“Thank you Mrs Patras.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”

“Thank you Mbali, I will try, but I’m sure it won’t be anywhere near as entertaining as it has been so far.  Goodbye.”

“Goodbye Mrs Patras.”

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6 comments

  1. Oh yes I can hear it all now! Straight down the form regardless of any information previously given like clockwork, but being polite throughout. I do miss Africa!!

  2. Definitely can commiserate. On a less important issue, it took close to two months to convince the cable provider that we could actually have service at our vacation cottage and receive the billing at our other home in another city. The phone conversations were somewhat similar.

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