Auto Insurers like Farm Bureau Financial Services Moving to Real Time Driver Surveillance (Updated)

by Allen Williams


Today's insurance market is simply the pits especially where automobile coverage is concerned. Consumer complaints are on the rise and even though one can get a feel for how he or she may fair under insurer policies from these complaints, there is little relief from industry abuses. One such example is Farm Bureau Financial Services of West Des Moines. Iowa, a holding company that has acquired a number of state farm bureaus through the years including Kansas in 2001.

Farm Bureau is a financial conglomerate that provides Home and Auto coverage through its subsidiaries as well as questionable innovative technologies like driveology'. View the FBFS Driver real time monitoring brochure here: (https://www.fbfs.com/insurance/auto-insurance/driveology) Whats that you may ask? Note that the company's safe driving software will be rating YOUR contribution to global warming as a qualifier for premium auto discounts.

We now live in a technological age where government and its affiliated partners can render total information control over every individual. Under real time driver management surveillance, most people will never qualify for any significant discounts. It will be nothing more than an intrusive incursion into ones privacy.

Farm Bureau has a history of making promises which never materialize. I was involved in several rate saving programs in the past promising discounts but about halfway through, a general rate increase nullified the discount. I even requested a 7500 mile travel limit option but it didn't result in any noticeable rate reduction as I wound up with double digit rate increases of 18%, 13.5%, and 13%  respectively for the last three years. The company raises insurance premiums on drivers with no accidents to help offset its uninsured loss claims.

As you might imagine in new technologies, the Farm Bureau website does not give any system details on its driver monitoring package. Their safety brochure mailed to potential insurance renewals is all the information that is available. They want you to talk to their agent where nothing promised is in writing to establish that the insurer wasn't acting in good faith in the event of future litigation. I'll define what that means a bit later.

Now before one can actually qualify for the kind of savings they hint at with their driver monitor (up to 30%) you need to own the right car. What might that be you respond? Well the advertisement I received with last years 13.5% rate increase infers that I may only expect to receive the maximum discounted savings IF my car qualifies. Now given the fact that Farm Bureau raised my auto rates 18% last year with no claims for the last 15 to 20 years that Ive been insured, I have to conclude that one must have the latest vehicle technology in addition to their software if any real savings are possible. So, what must a person do?

Well for starters I must accept their electronic surveillance package in my car (it could be as simple as a flash drive plugged into my cars USB port, if I had one) that would query and store my vehicles health, environmental and operating data.

Expect this to be a points based rating system not unlike trading carbon credits. For example, you just had a new CO exhaust monitor installed in the vehicle, that's +5 points but you also have a substandard performing catalytic converter and that's (-)50 points. Get the drift or am I going too fast?

In addition, the FB insurance system records how often the brake pedal is actuated, your distance traveled, the speed of the vehicle and if the driver is wearing a seat belt. I bet it will also test driver alertness on long trips as most new cars have a camera screen which is perfect for receiving visual messages and alarms from your driving safely monitor. It will send various messages that need to be responded to in a certain amount of time along the lines of a drunk detector on start-up which requires you to type in a random series of numbers in sequence in 10 or so seconds or you can't start the car. Remember, older drivers with arthritis and other physical impairments will be challenged to satisfy such tests. And, it would most likely result in a serious penalty (-)1000 points, etc in the driveology system if you fail it.

The Farm Bureau software surveillance system is capable of virtually infinite expansion as any new WIFI device can communicate with your vehicle WIFI. So say, there is a new device marker for a school zone, the marker will notify the FBFS system in your car enabling it to determine if you're speeding in that region, and if so (-) 100 points. And lets not forget that weather is available across the WIFI network which allows insurers to determine that you're driving too fast on wet slippery roads and then more point penalties. Also, they will know what you' re listening to on the radio and if you are texting because these are all WIFI access devices. And because most fast food restaurants also have WIFI, the company will be aware of what you're eating and drinking. This information will be sold to their business partners per their privacy notification policy.

The Farm Bureau driver monitor will also know the last time your car was serviced and if the environment is being harmed by using the AC too often. [UPDATE] These intrusive measures are being offered as a 'social responsibility' effort but also a 'profit enhancer' for companies. Telogis offers real time driver monitoring.  See (https://www.telogis.com/benefits/social-responsibility)
Here's an example of what's already underway in commercial fleet operation: "Using Telogis Fleet (https://www.telogis.com/solutions/fleet) you can measure progress on green metrics. Using baseline data, ongoing collection and record-keeping of GHG outputs, you can report on your current carbon footprint and track green fleet initiatives. ..It all adds up to shrinking your carbon footprint and minimizing carbon emissions. Calculate your potential CO2 reductions using our GPS ROI calculator."
(https://www.telogis.com/benefits/your-roi/gps-roi)

Driver monitors can also interface with the police license scanner system ALPR - (http://www.theiacp.org/ALPR) alerting an expired license (-)1500 points (plus a ticket). Or perhaps, you did not schedule that emissions test when told to by the system within the time window allotted (-) 500 points. The FB driveology data is viewable externally as their brochure claims but you cant correct it. It will testify against you in any legal proceeding resulting from a citation or an accident.

Now after your car has spied on you for a period of time, I mean monitored your driving habits for a year or so, you become eligible for advanced premium discounts. But I'd be surprised if anyone could qualify for a dime of rebate under such a program, more than likely the FB system will document scores of reasons why one can't earn a premium break and will then be justification for endless rate increases just as one experiences each year for those over retirement age.

Statistics is the lifeblood of the insurance industry; these people are always looking for ways to minimize their risks and boost profits at the drivers expense so your personal freedom and privacy under the 4th amendment is of little concern. So, do not be surprised if the insurance industry is already lobbying government to require this invasive technology under penalty of law. Forcing individuals to upgrade equipment and purchase services they do not need or want is a time honored globalist tradition right along with getting the government to do their dirty work. (If you have forgotten that just revisit Obamacare.)

Companies like Farm Bureau also force you to subscribe to their quarterly Kansas Living magazine as a condition of purchasing their auto insurance. Kansas Living is no longer the voice of agriculture but a paid platform of partner advertising subsidized by the policy holder. You can't cancel it because your FB auto insurance is contingent upon remaining a Kansas Living subscriber.

So, how effective is Farm Bureaus claim management you may think? Well, in short, they almost never return your phone calls. Particularly, if you have a question about their rates do not expect to get an answer in your lifetime. For a supposedly rural company they come off like the snobbish global company they truly are. One recent user named Rachel from Kansas (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farm-bureau-homeowners.htm) laments: 

"Extremely dissatisfied with Farm Bureau. We have paid additional to get residential home equipment breakdown coverage. Our heat and air unit outside needs replacement. It has been eleven days since we have filed our claim. We have tried to contact the insurance agent several times. He does not pick up his phone and neither does he answer back."
I certainly have to agree with her assessment based on my personal experiences with Farm Bureau.

Then there is Debra (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farm-bureau-homeowners.htm) from the Indiana branch of Farm Bureau:
"I've had Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance for 6 SIX years, paying approx $200/month which equals over $14k and had NO ZERO claims, not even 1 speeding ticket, yet my insurance rates keep increasing - on my 11 yo vehicle! I am even over 50. Called my agent and he said "Well, I can't explain it. Sorry. I'll even shop around for you!"
" Here are more FBFS complaints from the consumer protection website (https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/farm_bureau_auto.html).

Folks there is a reason behind Farm Bureaus rude and callous behavior, they simply don't have to perform because if there is any misdoings you're the one (or your attorney) who has to prove that the insurer was not acting in good faith and its just about impossible to prove given the legal boundary conditions that have to be satisfied simultaneously. Now you know the value of insurance lobbying. Yes, state governments have provided some cushy legal protection for the insurance cartel's deep pockets. Here is an excellent example from Findlaw as to how the claim game is played.

On October 9, 1999, Roger Bellville (Bellville) and his wife, Sue Ellen, were involved in a motor vehicle accident with Guy Schueler. Ellen died at the scene Bellville was unharmed. (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ia-supreme-court/1256710.html)

Now here's the explanation of 'good faith' in legal terms as I mentioned earlier: 
2. Subjective element: knowledge of lack of reasonable basis. Even when the insurer lacks a reasonable basis for its denial of a claim, liability for bad faith will not attach unless the insurer knew or should have known that the basis for denying its insured's claim was [Sampson, 582 N.W.2d at 150; Kiner v. Reliance Ins. Co]., unreasonable. An insurer's negligent or sub-par 463 N.W.2d 9, 13 (Iowa 1990). investigation or evaluation of a claim is relevant to the fact finder's determination of whether the insurer should have known its denial lacked Reuter, 469 N.W.2d at 254; Bad Faith Actions a reasonable basis. 5:08, at 5-42 ([A] breach of the duty to investigate constitutes a § But an improper investigation, standing substitute for knowledge.) alone, is not sufficient cause for recovery if the insurer in fact has Reuter, 469 an objectively reasonable basis for denying the claim. N.W.2d at 254-55; accord Seastrom v. Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co., 601 5:08, at 5-42 (stating N.W.2d 339, 347 (Iowa 1999); Bad Faith Actions § a negligent investigation does not constitute bad faith by itself). With this background, we turn now to an analysis of the plaintiff's bad faith claim.

So bad faith actions ARE NOT proof of bad faith itself and precisely what insurance adjuster actions could ever be deemed unreasonable in a court of law? And how could you prove that the insurer knew or should have known that his basis for denying the claim was unreasonable? Anything the adjuster does will be deemed reasonable; the appellate court has already affirmed that assumption in this particular case.

Farm Bureaus real time driver monitoring system is a privacy threat and a consumer rip off.


Parts - Geek .. not a good choice for automobile parts!”

by Allen Williams


Recently, I had to upgrade my automobile air conditioning system from R12 to R134a. Getting AC parts for a 1991 Nissan is no easy task. After some research on the Net, I happened upon Parts Geek which seemed to have exactly what I needed at reasonable prices.

I did most of the AC work on my own car, flushing the lines, installing a new compressor, o-rings, etc. I ordered a new Filter-Drier from Parts Geek and it arrived promptly, now note their return policy:

"Return Policy - IMPORTANT PLEASE READ
We have a 30 day return policy. We must be contacted within 30 days of receipt for an RMA number. We will not accept any returns after 30 days, no exceptions. All returns including cores require an RMA number. You MUST fill out a support ticket on our website for an RMA number. We will NOT accept return requests via phone. DO NOT send back any parts without first obtaining an RMA number via e-mail, or else your credit will be delayed significantly. Please visit our website and click on Customer Service for further details."
I installed the new filter-drier and pulled down the system to 29 inches of mercury but the AC system began to leak as soon as the vacuum pump shut off. I checked the system for leaks but couldn't identify any even though the system had green dye in the PAG oil and had been run briefly.

I had to put my car in a local Kansas AC shop and they called to tell me the new Filter-Drier was defective, leaking around the sight glass. The shop replaced the filter drier, pumped it down and charged the system with R134a. It then worked fine.

Now instead of being able to repair and upgrade my auto AC system for less than $200, I wound up paying over $500 because of that defective drier not to mention the time and aggravation I experienced getting an approved RMA number to get the defective part returned for credit. And then they wouldn't pay the shipping for me to return their defective part!

You get a confirming email from Parts-Geek on any order which contains the customer order number, if you don't have that number they won't assist you. They have no other way to identify your order. And Parts Geek has no telephone contact number on their website, I had to do a separate search to acquire their 800 number. When you call, you get their automated menu so they can screen customers by the type of part ordered. Parts-Geek customer representatives are rude, not very knowledgeable and like to make you keep repeating the order number as you attempt to resolve a parts issue. Here is their order policy:


"Please do not reply to this message. This e-mail was sent from a notification-only e-mail address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. If you need to contact Customer Service, please open a support ticket on our Customer Service page.

To track your package, please visit the carriers website and simply input the tracking number. All UPS tracking numbers begin with 1Z, (e.g., 1Z69R2R70315956544) All FedEx numbers are 15 digits long and do not include any letters (e.g., 04751198048715). All US MAIL tracking numbers are 20 digits long and do not include any letters (e.g., 0123 4567 8910 1112).

* Please note that ALL tracking information may not be available immediately or at the same time. Please allow 24 hours after recieving the tracking number for the shipping carrier to update their web site.

* As indicated on our website, we do not offer weekend or holiday delivery. Therefore, any overnight or second day orders placed on Friday will not arrive until the following business day.

* If you receive a damaged package, do not accept the package. You can either refuse the package or contact the shipping carrier to refuse the package. You have 24 hours to refuse the package. We will not be responsible for the return of carrier damaged products.

* We have a 30 day return policy. No returns are accepted without a return authorization number. We must be contacted within 30 days of receipt for an RMA number. We will not accept any returns after 30 days, no exceptions."

How would you get an RMA for a carrier damaged package? The answer: You wouldn't and if that carrier turned out to be UPS, you'd likely be out the entire cost of whatever you bought.  I had to get an approved RMA to return the defective filter-drier.  I included an email from my local AC Shop indicating the filter-drier was defective.as I wasn't certain they'd take my word for it. I also had to pay to ship back the defective filter-drier; they refuse to pay any return shipping charges no matter what the circumstances. Here are some further testimonies to Parts Geek's crappy service, there are plenty of other complaints.

I was asked to rate Parts Geek on Trust Pilot: Click here to rate us on Trustpilot  I gave them one star out of five because that was as low as the system would let me go. Here was the Parts-Geek credit response on the defective filter-drier I returned.

"Please DO NOT REPLY to this message. (we will not receive it)

To contact us you MUST open a support ticket on our Customer Service page.

This is to inform you that your credit was processed today.

Invoice Number: 15-xxxxxxxx
Shipping: $9.95
Parts: $12.08
Total Credit: $22.03
"

UPDATE 7/15/2016
Bank ledger entries show the following credits from Parts-Geek..same order..same carrier..same destination


06/29/2016

 

CREDIT 1831 

06/28/16 75785902 PARTS 

GEEK, LLC 800-5419352  

NJ 

 

 

9.95

 

06/28/2016

 

CREDIT 1834 

06/27/16 78773002 PARTS 

GEEK, LLC 800-5419352  

NJ 

 

 

22.03

 
But on the second filter-drier I inadvertently ordered I only received $9.95 credit. When I asked the customer rep why I didn't get the full amount of $12.08, he hung up on me. The next time I called, I asked why is there a difference in shipping charges, i.e. (1st -drier) $22.03 - $12.08 = $9.95  and (2nd Drier) $12.08 - 9.95 = $2.13?  He claims I had to pay return shipping on an order that I refused deleivery on. This makes no sense!  You can also read my complaints on Yelp.

During the 2nd call to Parts-Geek, the customer rep said he needed to put me on hold while he checks into the shipping discrepancy and then after about 10+ minutes on hold, listening to their endless repetitive elevator music, the connection was terminated.  Both of these identical parts traveled via the same carrier to the same location, so the refund should have been the same. The order refund was INTENTIONALLY shorted, there is no other plausible explanation. No doubt, it's how they limit their expenses on damaged or defective items. Parts-Geek also overcharges you on the shipping, I spent $9.02 USPS charges to use the same carrier as Part-Geek to return a defective filter-drier to the same location that I was charged $9.95 to have it shipped to me originally from a commercial business. It's not a lot of money to be out for sure but if this is done on small orders what might you expect on a large one when returning a defective item?

Apparently, Parts Geek doesn't bother checking anything before it ships out, What's quality control? Basically you get whatever is on the shelf in whatever condition it is at the time. Who cares? They already got your money. And, they'll probably put your item right back on the shelf when they receive it and then ship it out to someone else.

Update 7/18/2016  I can see why Parts Geek is not a member of the Better Business Bureau but I went ahead and added my complaint to the New Jersey affiliate anyway, complaint ID 11568737.  I'd say the following complaints pretty much characterize Parts Geek practices, i.e. problems with Product/Service.

This business is not BBB accredited.

Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details

628 complaints closed with BBB in last 3 years | 201 closed in last 12 months
 
Complaint Type Total Closed Complaints
Advertising/Sales Issues 59
Billing/Collection Issues 31
Delivery Issues 104
Guarantee/Warranty Issues 20
Problems with Product/Service 414
Total Closed Complaints 628

Read Complaints | Definitions | BBB Complaint Process | File a Complaint against Parts Geek
See Trends in Complaints on Parts Geek | View Complaints Summary by Resolution Pie Chart on Parts Geek

As long as there are no consequences to their business the customer abuses at Parts Geek will continue.  Firing inept and/or rude representatives will not accomplish anything, Parts-Geek will simply train new inept and rude ones to take their place,  

UPDATE 7/22/2016

07/21/2016
CREDIT 1803 
07/20/16 74948702 PARTS 
GEEK, LLC 800-5419352  
NJ 
 
12.08

After this article posted with its BBB Parts Geek complaint history,  the company finally saw the error of their ways and repaid me for the expenses of returning the defective filter-drier and the shipping costs associated with refusing a second filter-drier.  Now that's properly serving your customers, just as JC Whitney and other great companies do.  I now recant my earlier recommendation: They need to be put out of business.



















Shipping Damaged Goods..accident or company policy?

by Allen Williams

I'm one of those individuals who does virtually everything across the Internet. It is in that spirit that I sought and found a set of replacement radiator cooling fan motors on Junkyard dog.for my dad's 1991 Nissan Sentra E (which I now own since his passing). The car has deep sentimental value and I have sought to maintain it as it was when he was alive.

Photo: The parts carton delivered by UPS


Although the company that I ultimately ordered the parts from, Sunrise Nissan- California, didn't show up on the Internet search, they obviously got the information that I filled out in the salvage query because they sent me an e-mail with price and availability. Their shipping cost was the lowest of any of the companies that I had negotiated with for transport. (And now I know why)

I decided to order. The item arrived from Sunrise Nissan delivered by United Parcel Service (UPS) on the evening of June 8th, some 15 days after it was ordered. 

I could hear things rattling around inside as the UPS agent handed me the carton. The package was wrapped around multiple times with plastic wrap and quite difficult to get open. The packaging was not at all like the shipping containers that I've received with vintage auto parts in the past; this one had a noticeable dent on one end and it looked more like a cocoon than a box. {No, I didn't mistakenly show the wrong shrimp, I mean shipping carton here. The parts were actually delivered in an old frozen shrimp carton. Frankly, I was surprised not to find any dead shrimp along with the fans when I opened the box.}

Opening the shipping carton

At this point, I'm not certain if this particular auto salvage operation also sells or prepares shrimp at their location but it might be wise to scan any shrimp you order from California with a metal detector before serving.

Both fan assemblies were broken. The driver's side was the least damaged with only one mounting tab missing. I found it at the bottom of the box.  Fortunately, I was able to repair it satisfactorily

Photo: Inspecting the parts..

The second fan shroud was extensively damaged. One of the broken frame sections was lying underneath the fan blade as you see top center.

There is a fracture about 3/4" from the right hand side of the missing top piece penetrating through the entire shroud assembly. The lower frame was broken clear through at its bottom as shown in the photo top. It was not found in the shipping carton.  Either, the shipper or UPS, placed the broken shroud parts in the bottom of the shrimp carton along with the two fan assemblies.

The supplier was: SUNRISE NISSAN & KIA AUTO DISMANTLING, 3450 SUNRISE BLVD, RANCHO CORDOVA, CA 95742. PHONE (916) 631-8795 FAX (916) 631-8849 e-mail: (now protected)  STORE HOURS - M-F 8am-5pm SAT 9am-4pm STD PACIFIC All parts guaranteed 6 months

After placing a complaint call, UPS made arrangements the following day to pick up the packaging for 'inspection'. What? They didn't photograph it after picking up such an unusual package from the shipper? I e-mailed both UPS and Sunrise Nissan the evening of June 10th complaining of the damage and including these photographs. UPS sent an e-mail acknowledgement of receipt of the pictures on 6/11/09, stating:

"Thank you for sending us the photos of the damaged package. We will now inspect the package and notify your shipper of the results. We will contact the shipper by the end of the next business day. If you are the receiver, please stay in contact with your shipper for additional information regarding the final disposition of the claim.


Thanks,

Gregory Marshall

UPS Damage Exception Group

1-800-651-2352 ext. 4511"

Photo: Original Fan Shroud assemblies.. 


Sunrise Nissan has not responded to date. Lacking the common courtesy to respond to its customers gives one an indication of what their 6-month fan warranty might be worth.  Is it a wonder that California is going broke?

So, whose fault is it for the damaged items? Both the Shipper and Carrier will blame each other for the damage; it's the consumer who loses.

I was fortunate, neither fan motor was damaged, both work satisfactorily and replacing the shroud will cost about $52.08.

But why not just use the original fan shroud assemblies already on the vehicle which were in good shape? Well, ordinarily that would have been a viable solution but in this case, the replacement fans mount differently in the shroud assemblies than the originals as shown below.

Photo: The Nissan original and replacement fan shroud..


Although both are '91 fan shrouds, the replacements ordered from Sunrise Nissan utilize a triangular mount that's actually part of the motor and can't be removed.

Swampers or auto dismantlers have no particular incentive to remove parts undamaged.. getting orders filled quickly is what counts.  And, UPS already has quite a reputation for damaged goods and often refuses to pay claims on things it wrecks in transit.  One claimant writes: "I shipped a wall sculpture at THE UPS STORE in Lagrange KY on February 25, 2009. The item was undamaged and in good condition when I took it to them for shipment to my home in Virginia. I paid 90.50 for shipping, handling and insurance on my sculpture. When it arrived in Virginia I found my 822.50 sculpture had been totally destroyed. "

Another writes: "I shipped a desktop phone system to a customer by packing it in a heavy box, wrapping each phone 2x in large-cell bubble wrap, and adding Styrofoam peanuts for extra protection. The customer contacted me stating the phones arrived looking like they had been smashed by hammers.."

It's why consumer advocacy sites like "Angie's List and others have sprung up on the Internet. Angie's List serves some 750,000 consumers with ratings on who's good, who isn't and who's in the 'penalty box'. Suppliers do not pay to get on Angie's List, they must earn their way on in either in providing good or unsatisfactory service.

Today's consumer not only faces the risk of receiving merchandise like this from unscrupulous sellers, but also has to deal with callous shippers like UPS who often damage otherwise satisfactory and serviceable goods in transit. Carriers make their money on the sheer volume of merchandise they ship; careful handling is NOT conducive to maximizing company profits. It's better to push the volume to the highest maintainable level and let the smashed articles accumulate as they may. After all, UPS faces no real retribution other than unpopular publicity and if you deny most of the damage claims, you're profit ahead.

Shipping UPS should not be a first choice. It should only be done for items that are inexpensive and easily replaced or simply can't be broken. Remember, your money is never damaged in transit and seldom lost.