Who Writes All Those Company ‘Change’ Questionnaires Anyway?

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I just got another one of those “Serving You In Every Way” letters from a company I do business with. You know the letters I mean? The ones that check to see if you’ve changed anything so they can charge you more? It makes the fourth one so far this year, and its only February. I suppose there will be more of them.

This one came from a company I have been doing business with since 1998. Now I know that’s only 14 years, but I’d like to think that by now they know me well enough to guess that at my age I am unlikely to change a whole lot.

I’m going to be 80 soon. And I’ll tell you what, Johnny, if you think us olderly folks are set in our ways by the time the big 7-0 arrives, wait till you meet someone who has crossed the 8-0 divide. Point a gun at him and he ain’t changin’ nothin’.

Understand, it’s not because we really like the way things are. Just wastes too %$#@! much time.

And time is not something we have in excess.

Besides, nothing important about me has changed since I hit 20. My body finally made up its mind it was male, lowered my voice two octaves, and quit growing hair all over the place — in favor of a nice, sensible program of progressive hair loss.

If you don’t think hair loss makes good sense, wait till you reach my age, and you think, “If I don’t have much time left why waste it combing hair? What am I going to attract? Flies?”

You know how long it takes me to get washed and ready to go in the morning? Four minutes flat. Two minutes brushing my teeth and two washing my face, which now includes the back of my neck.

Talking about hair, I’ve always felt there ought to be an old adage about hair. Maybe, “As goes the hair, so goes the memory.”

Anyway those “did-you-change-anything” companies just do not understand how set in our ways us old folks can become. At least they sure don’t see me that way. Those dummies contact me twice a year to verify things that I haven’t changed in decades — or maybe even longer, it being hard to remember anymore.

The company that sent me a letter today is my car insurance company, and you should see the silly questions they ask. Take the first one. It asks me to “verify the information below,” but most the information is left out. The only thing below the question is the name and year of each of the two vehicles I own. The rest is all blanks. So what is there to verify?

I know I’m getting a little ancient, but my thesaurus is just two years old, and it plainly says that verify means to “confirm, authenticate, attest to, vouch for, or corroborate.”

So if 99 percent of what they are asking me to verify is blank, what do they want to me say? This?

“I authenticate, and vouch for, the fact that I can attest to — and corroborate! — that there is nothing but empty blanks in the spaces you buttheads want me to verify.”

I wonder how that would strike some desk jockey?

Another thing they ask me to do every year is to contact their customer service department if I have replaced, added, or removed a vehicle. Now that I really do not get. Do they think I wouldn’t contact them if I “removed” a vehicle? Do they really think I am so senile that I would go on paying insurance for a car I no longer own?

Or better still, do they think they’ve been selling insurance to someone so talented he knows a way of getting out of the salesman’s office in a dealership without having insurance for the car he’s about to drive off?

Or maybe they think I steal my cars.

Hm-m-m-m. That’s a thought. I could save on buying insurance.

I may give that a try, so keep your car doors locked.

The next question asks me to enter the odometer mileage for each vehicle. Fine. No problem. But the one after it asks me, “Is this vehicle driven to work, school, or commuter/ride-share lot?”

First of all, what business is it of theirs what I do with my car as long as I tell them how many miles I drive each year? It’s my business. And if it’s their business, why don’t I see special rates for non-working drivers who don’t go to school or commute? If they think I would be a higher risk if I did those things, why am I not getting a break on my rates for not doing them?

Gotcha there, insurance company!

On top of that, they only have to look at the bottom of their own form and they can see the answer to their question.

You know what is says down there? In capital letters?

THOMAS GARRETT. RETIRED.

How likely is an 80-year-old retired guy to drive to school each day? Or commute? Where would I go? To the undertaker’s?

You know what gets me about that form they sent me more than anything else? The genuinely dumb statement down at the bottom where I am supposed to sign. Listen to this:

“Please sign and date this form and provide your telephone number. We would like you to know that by completing, signing, and returning this form you are doing the following:

• Promising that your statements are true.

• Acknowledging that the company will rely on your answers.”

What? They don’t know my telephone number after 14 years? If so, how did they manage to call me last week to offer me something I don’t want? Who did they think they were talking to that day? Some guy at this number who just happened to have the same name?

And did you catch that word “promising”? Why am I “promising” that my answers are true? Why not confirming? Or authenticating? Or vouching? Or attesting? Or corroborating? Or at the very least, affirming?

Hey! They’re the ones who brought up the affirming thing.

But there’s one place I’ve got them right where I want them.

At the very bottom of the form is a block that says E-mail.

Now they may think I am dumb enough not to notice the fact that just below that box, where you might not notice it, and in very faint print — accidentally no doubt — it whispers: (Optional)

Hey, insurance company! You think I’m going to tell you my e-mail address so you can drive me nuts with more offers I don’t want? Just in case no one ever told you, if you’re still able to fill out and sign some %$#@! form you’re not brain dead yet.

So-o-o-o, when it comes to change ...

In the words of one of my favorite TV characters:

“Eat my shorts!”

Them, I change.

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