Sunday, October 26, 2008


I love the way that my baby bro answers the phone...CHELLO! Yes...good things! So I had an experience and for the first time I wrote a "letter to the editor" commenting on my experience...I hope it helped! What do you think? Please PLEASE please leave feedback after reading....(that's where you click on the place where it says X Commnets...the X represents the number of comments that are there now)

Here is where included my address, but don't want it on the net...
Colorado Springs, CO (zip was here too!)
October 26, 2008

Josue (Joe) Robles, Jr.
Maj. General, USA (Ret.)
President and CEO
9800 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, TX 78288

Dear Joe:
I am a long-time USAA customer. My parents added me to their USAA account (as an active duty military family that uses your services) when I was 15 years old and got my driving permit. I am writing to tell you about how your company both dropped the ball when I went to you for help and picked it up again an hour and a half later.
I’ve read the ‘about your company’ portion of your website and I know that the company started with the intention of helping people so let me tell you a little about me, your customer.

I am 24 and had 2 kids when I was 17 and 19. I still started on my bachelors program (graduation is in March!) and bought a house when I was 20 years old. I was working a decent job (that I hated) and was able to pay all the bills when the housing market started to dive. My mortgage went up, my bills stayed the same (or went up because I was late paying them because I HAD to pay the mortgage) and I fell behind a few times on my USAA policy. I am, in fact, behind on it now and it’s due to be cancelled.

Then I got laid off. I found a new job within a month and was trying to get my life back on track. Then after two years at this new job and still working towards my degree with the plan being ‘finish the degree and get a great job where you can actually afford all the bills’ mind set I found out that I was expecting my third child. Okay, I’m going to graduate soon, the older kids are both in school now and I can afford to have this little guy. We’re going to make this work! A week before I went on maternity leave in June I found out that my company was going out of business so I had no job to come back to.

Okay, new plan for life…..I can get unemployment while I’m home with the baby, I can search for the right job for me, and maybe someone will hire me without me having completed my degree or perhaps I can start my own business. I’ve been working with that goal and trying to make everything work where my kids still get to have fun and I can still pay my bills.

So, here’s what happened. I have a step sister who is 12 years old. She has the same days off school as my kids (now 5, 6, and 4 months old) and I thought that we could spend some time together on October 17. They all had that day off school, I’m home with the baby anyways and we could do something fun together. I found out that a craft store was selling these “craft pumpkins” that you can actually carve and paint and….whatever really...without the mess of “real” pumpkins. I also found out that the company was having a contest for carving the pumpkins the next day. So I had a plan, we were going to carve pumpkins and enter them into the contest, COOL!

So after having my 4 month old in a sling around my chest and keeping an ADHD 6 year old focused on finding craft supplies and keeping track of a 12 year old and a 5 year old in a large craft store full of “project” possibilities, I have a cart full of stuff, a big purse, and the enthusiasm of a child, for the project we were going to work on!

I get to the car to realize that I LOCKED MY KEYS IN!! Seriously, SERIOUSLY, of course that’s when that happens, I know. I called my hubby first because, he’s my rock! What do I do? I have all these kids and it’s cold outside (I do live in CO and it was one of those super cold autumn days we have) CALL USAA he says! Okay, you’re right; of course USAA will get this taken care of.

Here’s where your company dropped the ball. The representative I called told me I hadn’t elected to have roadside assistance so he couldn’t help me at all (sorry, I didn’t get his name…but I’ve worked at call centers and assume there will be account notes about this) he then went on to suggest that I look in my owners manual because my car is new enough there should be a manufacturer’s warranty….okay that’s great, but my owners manual isn’t something I carry around in my purse…it’s in the glove box of my car…locked in there…with my keys!! I got frustrated because I felt like he wasn’t empathizing with my situation at all, so I just hung up.

I then asked the store for their phone book and called a locksmith listed in the phone book…the ad said “15 minutes, anywhere in town, guaranteed, $19.95” so I thought, PERFECT! We’ve got things to do and I can afford this. I called the company, and as the phone rang, my cell started doing the ‘chirp, chirp, your battery is about to die in the middle of this conversation’ thing. Finally someone answered and I told her my situation. In a robotic way she said, “Uh, okay, I’ll page him” really!?! Why are you not more concerned about me? (Keep in mind, being a good role model for kids is VERY important to me and I don’t want to freak out and react in anger, even if I am feeling that way in order to teach them they can accomplish more with words than with threats).

So I try to wait inside the store where it’s warm, but I already paid for my stuff so I have a cart full of things and walking around a store with a cart full of paid for goods makes people nervous because they think you’re going to steal something. I tried to stand in the door way where it was warm and we could see the car so when the guy showed up, we were ready because even though he has my phone number, my phone is about to die. However, we were in everyone’s way whether they were coming or going.

I decided to go outside with the kids and there is a bench and we’re waiting. Now my son with ADHD can’t sit still. He gets up and starts climbing the trees along the walk way and starts trying to race his brother in front of the store. If you’ve ever been to a craft superstore, they have a “sidewalk sale” going on most of the time. So if you’re imagining this scene, I’m ‘wearing’ a 4 month old baby, we’re all cold, and I’m trying to not get angry and ruin the whole day. In addition to that, we have to keep track of the cart that’s full of all the stuff we bought for our project. I’m also not trying to make a lot of phone calls because if my cell dies then I’m not able to call ANYONE for help if this doesn’t work out.

We decide to go sit by the car just in case the locksmith is in an unmarked car and doesn’t recognize mine (I have a special addition car that looks a lot different than most so the make and model can be confusing). I get every one situated by the car, tell my ADHD son the rules (no going any further than where you can touch the car) and call the locksmith company back. It’s been 30 minutes since my last call and still a no show. When the woman answers the phone, I’m AGAIN trying not to freak out on her and be a good role model. She seems completely indifferent to my situation and what I’m dealing with and answers my complaint with a nonchalant, “I’ll page him again”…click.

SERIOUSLY!?! Ok, well kids, let’s play “riddly-diddly-I-dee-dee, I see something you don’t see and the color of it is Orange” “No, you can’t go climb that tree” “Son, please don’t wander over there” “Of course the locksmith is going to come” “we’ll still get to our project” “I’m sorry you’re so cold” “I’m hungry too ”
If you came with me on that you understand what I was trying to do for my children.

After 30 more minutes of that, a woman emerged from the craft store and saw that we were still standing by the car (she had passed us on the way in). This was the conversation:

Her: are you locked out?

Me: yeah, but I’ve called 2 times and there’s supposed to be a locksmith on the way….although that was an hour ago and he’s still not here…..

Her: well who’s your insurance company? They should have roadside assistance come help you.

Me: USAA, but I already called them, that’s who I called first to help me and he said he couldn’t because I didn’t have roadside assistance.

Her: Are you joking? I can’t believe that! Here, let the kids get into the back of my car to warm up for a minute while I help you.

Me: You’re awesome, thank you!

Her: what’s the plan now?

Me: (see above explanation…I filled her in on the details of what I’d done)

Her: This is ridiculous. Our company is supposed to help you. *pulling out her cell because mine is about to die…dialing USAA…* Yes, this is (missed her name ) and I’m an employee, I’m standing in the parking lot with a member who is locked out of her car with 3 children and a baby and it’s cold and she called for help and wasn’t helped, transfer me to roadside assistance IMMEDIATELY!

I’m thinking…OMIGAUD! This woman is my HERO! She works for my insurance company and is helping me fix this entire situation! She explained what all roadside assistance covers and that it’s not that expensive so I need to add it (I still haven’t gotten to that, but I intend to!) and that USAA can send an inexpensive locksmith that is approved by USAA (i.e. good quality) I’ll just have to pay him directly. This is what the first person I called should have done and failed to do.

I was ready to find a new insurance company because of what happened due to the first person’s “failure to function” but at the same time, thrilled that I was with USAA because this stranger in the parking lot was doing EVERYTHING in her power to help.

Sally, I later found out her name, changed the situation to the point where she not only had USAA sending me another locksmith who was more expensive but guaranteed that he would be there in 30 minutes, but also called the first company that I called and chewed them out for being disrespectful and uncaring towards me in my situation. She actually felt bad that she couldn’t do more and even asked if I had enough money to pay for the locksmith USAA was sending my way; almost like she would have paid it for me just to help me get on my way. She then was so in “I have to help this woman” mode that she felt guilty for leaving me when the locksmith still hadn’t arrived.

Long story-short, your locksmith arrived within 15 minutes (an hour and a half of keeping 4 kids entertained in a parking lot later…) accepted my hug-of-gratitude for saving the day, and was very sympathetic to my situation (Abracadabra Locksmithing in Colorado Springs in case you’re wandering…).

I guess I just wanted to let you know that you almost lost a customer (I know I’m struggling right now, but I really appreciate your company for a lot of things and I feel bad that I fall behind at all) and I also appreciate that your company is there, most of the time, in heart and spirit for people like me. I mean, these are the principles that your company is founded on. I’m glad that Sally was there for me and please, reward her in some way for helping someone in need through a random act of kindness towards a stranger that she didn’t “have” to do.

Please coach the person that I called first. If I had talked to someone like Sally the first time I called then 90% of this situation could have been avoided. I love having USAA on my side and again, I apologize that I struggle with paying promptly but I do want you to know that I appreciate what you do and want you to be my insurance company, my kids insurance company, and maybe, someday, my financial advisors FOR LIFE!!

Thank you for reading.


Sara (I actually included all my contact info but was weary of that being on the net...)

*Note, I got a call today (10/28)from USAA! The guy that called me let me know that he was from Joe Robles Major General CEO's office and that the woman who helped me is going to be rewarded and that the roadside assistance team is reviewing my account notes for training purposes to help coach the person who dropped the ball in the first place. They also wanted to let me know how much they appreciated me taking the time to write the letter in the first place!! I guess it does pay to write a letter, it's just a lot easier to email one!

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