I’ve Paid For This Twice Already…

Frugal living and debt reduction tips for a better financial future. This is one family’s story.

Archive for the ‘vent’ Category

Reliability – Is It Just A Feeling?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I have a Saturn. A 2001 Saturn L300 that we bought used in 2004, to be exact. The Saturn is completely paid off.

And there ends my list of nice things I have to say about it.

Those who have been long-time readers of the blog know that we have a long list of problems we’ve had with the car in the past three years. There’s the fact that it is impossible to keep in alignment and therefore eats tires. There’s the time the engine self destructed. There’s the time we had to abandon it 200 miles into an 800 mile trip when it kept shutting itself off and rent a car to finish the trip. And so on.

Why do we still have the car? Because we’re dumb. ;) Well, that’s debatable, but the fact of the matter is, I want to be out of debt so badly that I decided it’d be better to keep the devil we know instead of taking out a loan to get a different car. The wisdom of that is, as I said, highly debatable.

Among the list of small (and not so small) crises the car has contributed to was the time we were stranded at one of my son’s soccer practices because we couldn’t get the key to turn in the ignition. That required a locksmith to repair and actually, all told, wasn’t so bad after all from a financial perspective. However – two years later, and the problem has returned. Yesterday, when preparing to drive to my son’s bus stop to pick him up (he goes to school in a different district than the one we live so his bus stop is a few miles away) I couldn’t turn the key. Eventually I did manage to get the car started and got there just in time to meet the bus (I followed the bus in, in fact) but the fact remains – the car has decided to drive me crazy yet again.

So another locksmith visit, another round of staring at the Saturn in my garage thinking – what price am I willing to pay for reliability? At what cost does dependability come, and even if I did decide to replace it, how do I know I won’t end up with another stupid lemon that claims it isn’t technically a lemon? All this is starting to make me want a brand new car with a warranty. Must. Resist. Stupid. Car. Ugh.

What I wouldn’t do for my little GEO Tracker back. That car was 14 years old when we replaced it with the Saturn and in those 14 years I owned it, I spent less on it in maintenance than I have in the 5 years I’ve owned the Saturn.


Verizon Family Plan Members – Be Aware

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Since my father’s death in January, there have been a lot of things to deal with.  His passing was wholly unexpected, and although he was a stickler for order and detail, there were many loose ends to tie up and things to do.  One of those things that we didn’t deal with right away was my parents’ Verizon cell phone plan.  My parents had a family plan with my two younger brothers (with my Dad as the authorized accountholder) and they were in a contract until the end of May.  In February, my mom and youngest brother went to a Verizon store and after about an hour, left and gave up on getting just my dad’s phone cancelled before the end of the contract.  The ineptitude of the employees (who basically claimed they couldn’t do anything, even with a death certificate, unless my mom wanted to pay a huge early termination fee) made my mom decide that the effort was better saved for other things.

But as I said, their contract ended in May, so last week, my mom and brother made another trek to the Verizon store, this time to end their phone plan (that was no longer under contract, they thought) and sign up for a different plan that more suited their needs (my other brother is joining his fiancee’s plan instead of another family plan with my mom).  And that is where the fun begins.  I can only report it secondhand, for I live 1000+ miles away and wasn’t there, but in the 3.5 hours (yes, three and a half hours) that they were there, this is what basically happened.

When they tried to end their phone plan, they were told that if you have a contract, it automatically renews once it ends until the authorized account holder cancels it.  The authorized account holder is my dad.  And because my dad is dead, he can’t cancel it.  So it can’t be cancelled.  YES, the first set of employees point blank told my mother and brother that the contract (that had already run out) could not be cancelled by anyone other than my dad, and because he was dead no one could cancel it.  My mom had brought the death certificate with her, and the employees told her it didn’t matter, no one else was authorized without my dad giving them authorization, even though he had passed away.

So then my mom told them “Good luck getting William to pay it then beyond the grave” and the employees went to get first a manager, and then after the manager claimed they couldn’t do anything, a supervisor, and the supervisor finally, after consulting “headquarters” and having my mom and brother both refuse to accept they had to keep paying, changed the authorization to my mom and allowed her to cancel it.

This, as I said, took three and a half hours.

So, if you have a Verizon family plan, look into your authorized account holders and see if you can have more than one.  Because if the unthinkable happens, Verizon may try to collect from you forever.  Literally.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about something I like to balance this rant about things I definitely do not.  :)

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Or instead of scorned, her family harassed.  Something like that.  I think I’ve turned into the ultimate Mama Bear at this point, even when it is not my kids I am protecting.  Consider this a warning to anyone who’s bought a life insurance policy as part of a loan they’ve taken out (car, mortgage, etc).  I’m not saying not to do it – but what I am saying is that in this economy, it may cause you a lot of problems and headaches trying to actually collect on it before the loan is put into collections.  Indeed.

As you all know, my father passed away in January.  He and my brother co-owned a car together that was financed through GMAC financing.  When my father got the car loan, the dealership (which, by the way, my dad worked for) sold him a life insurance policy on the loan that if he died before the car was paid off (it is a five year loan) that the car would be paid off by the policy.  My dad was obsessive about paying bills ahead of time, so when he died on January 19th, the January 28th payment to GMAC had already been paid.  We started the process on collecting this life insurance policy to pay off the car, and went on with things.  By February 28th, when the next payment was due, the life insurance claim was still “in process” (through a third party company the dealership contracted with to do life insurance) and we had turned in, according to them, all the paperwork and information we needed to, but they were still processing the claim.  We also sent GMAC, at their request, a copy of the death certificate.  Twice actually, because the first time I faxed it they… lost it.  Yeah.  Okay.

Then 2 weeks ago, GMAC billing sends a letter to my mother telling her that the account is overdue.  So I take the information from the letter, and call GMAC billing.  They apologize and put a note on the account.  Supposedly.

Then yesterday GMAC collections calls my brother at work to harrass him about paying.  First off, even if the account was overdue, it isn’t even 30 days overdue.  And really, it isn’t overdue.  Why sell someone a life insurance policy if they aren’t supposed to actually use it.  So, first I call GMAC billing.  They tell me there’s a note on the account already.  Then I call GMAC Claims (where I sent the death certificate) and they tell me, oh, look, the account is in collections, and give me that number (why billing couldn’t tell me that, who knows).  So I call collections, which is a third party company by the way called Superior Credit.  They won’t even talk to me.  I can’t get a supervisor who can do anything on the phone and eventually they hang up on me.  Undeterred, I first call the life insurance company (Central States Health and Life Co of Omaha) to confirm that there is nothing more we can do other than wait for them to move faster, and then I call GMAC billing back.  And that is where the real fun begins.

I talk to person #1 and tell them I want billing to call collections and get them to leave us alone.  They tell me that billing can’t call collections, there is no way for the billing deparment to contact the collections department.  I ask them how the account ever got to collections if billing didn’t send it there.  After some hemming and hawing, they move me up the chain to a “Quality Assurance Specialist”. The Quality Assurance Speciatist basically gives me the same story, and keeps saying “there’s a note on the account, we know there is a pending claim” but obviously, I point out, that isn’t stopping them from harrassing us.  So they move me up the chain.  I then talk to an “Executive Customer Service Associate” and get the same exact story.  I tell them to give me the next person, and that I’ll continue until I get the actual person who sent it to collections, if that is what it takes.  At that point, I’m transferred to their manager.

The Executive Account Service Manager, magically, can actually contact collections.  Wow.  They must have super powers, because I was assured that billing had no way of doing that, but yet they can.  Heh.  After being put on hold for about 10 minutes (I got to listen to three soft rock ballads on the hold tape, so I figure about ten minutes), they come back and tell me that they talked to the collections manager and our account has been pulled from the collections report so we should not be called again.

Hey!  You can do that?  You mean all your underlings who said that billing has no authority over making collections do anything were… wrong?  How about that.

Who knows what will actually happen in regards to collections continuing to harrass my family – what is said to you versus what is actually done are two different things.  But just be aware – if you get one of those life insurance policies on a loan – it may be a lot of work for your heirs to actually enforce it if push comes to shove.  Not that I think, at all, that you shouldn’t get a policy if you want to.  Just be prepared for someone to fight for what you are due.   Less than 30 days after a “missed” payment, they’re already sending it to a collection agency.  A sign of our economic times, indeed.

The Saturn Is Dead

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

I probably should have waited until tomorrow to publish that goals post, huh?

My inlaws picked up the Saturn for us this morning, they were going to drive it halfway to Indiana and meet my spouse.  On their way from Saturn to the rental car place (so my MIL could be added as a driver on our rental) the car died.

The two places are 1.7 miles apart on the same road.

To say I am angry right now is an understatement.

No clue what I am going to do.   Sigh.


Added as of 1:32 PM  EST –  Supposedly, for third time today, is fixed, and is heading towards meeting my spouse in Western NY.  Crank sensor was at fault, they claim.  Newest repair done for free so there’s that.  Car may come back to Indiana by tonight after all.

And as of 1:52 AM EST on Saturday – it is in my garage.  I never thought I would see it again, honestly.  ;)   Night!

My Free Iced Coffee Would Cost Me $3.98

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Today is Free Iced Coffee Day at Dunkin Donuts.  If you will be near or pass by a Dunkin Donuts today, by all means, stop in and get a free iced coffee!  The offer is good until 10pm tonight, so make sure to take advantage of it if it will incur no hidden costs for you.

And what do I mean by hidden costs?  Well, I searched on the Dunkin Donuts website to see if there is a location near me.  On the East Coast where I grew up it seemed there was a DD on every corner, but in my experience, they are much less prevalent in the Midwest.   I theorize it has something to do with Krispy Kreme.  But, anyway.  I was really excited to actually have a search result come up, and see that there was one located in my city.  Hurrah!

On the other side of my city.  17 miles away.  One way.  Most of it highway driving but still, my car only gets about 30 miles to the gallon.  So a 34 mile round trip drive to get a “free” iced coffee would cost me at least a gallon of gas, which at current prices here is just shy of $4.  It would be less expensive for me to just go to the Starbucks less than a mile from me and pay for an iced coffee there I bet.  And besides, I have a $5 Starbucks gift card.

This of course is not at all the fault of Dunkin Donuts, and I hope many people can easily take advantage of their free promotion.  But not me.  I’ll be making some iced coffee at home from my spouse’s leftovers I put in the refrigerator when I got up this morning.  And pretending it was from Dunkin Donuts.  :)