USAA is like a unicorn in a pack of walruses: a financial services company that truly cares about its customers and really helps them out. Not as some kind of lucky exception, but as a matter of policy. Reader “Mary Marsala With Fries'” story, about how USAA opened up several cans of whoop-ass on an Enterprise facility that was trying to screw her over on charges, is yet further proof.
Recently, someone busted up my car, and I took USAA’s recommendation as to which repair shop and car-rental place to go to (mostly because they can electronically bill those places, so I never have to pay up front and be reimbursed later — but USAA also guarantees all the repairs if I go to the place they recommend, which is nice). Well, the repair shop (Metropolitan Lincoln Mercury dealer, funny place to send an old Saturn!) did a great job, no problems, and I got my rental car from Enterprise and returned it with no incident. (I had it about 4 days, and other than smelling like somebody smoked strawberries in a bong in the back seat, it was fine.) I got one call from Enterprise the following week, saying that they were having trouble billing USAA for the rental car. I let them know that this was probably because my name is on the insurance policy, but the policy is in my mom’s name. I’d had to correct the repair shop on that as well, but they got it right the second time, so I figured everything would be fine, and they didn’t contact me again.
Only USAA did, to let me know that the claim was still open two weeks later, due to Enterprise not billing them. I called Enterprise, they said they couldn’t get the bill to go through, so I called USAA again, and basically played middleman between the two for a week. Enterprise kept saying the claim was declined, and USAA kept telling me that it would certainly be approved if Enterprise could just enter it in the system correctly. USAA also gave me a number to have Enterprise call them directly to resolve the problem, which I passed along, but it didn’t seem to help. I began calling Enterprise daily in week three, and they kept saying they were “leaving messages” for USAA, with no results.
Finally, I got my credit card bill, and lo, Enterprise had billed me for the rental, without ever asking or informing me that they would. I called them back (I’d just spoken to them the day before) and got their manager. She told me that they’d spoken with USAA many times and been told that the bill was “denied”, so I was obligated to pay it. I told her that was hogwash, because USAA explicitly told me they’d cover it, and that I wanted the charge removed from my card immediately. Arguing ensues. Manager gets rude, and starts telling me that they called me numerous times to inform me of the charge and I never picked up, so I’d better just pay the bill and “get USAA to reimburse” me if I think they really will. She also says that because she “left a message” at USAA, she’s not going to call them again until they call her back. (Huh?) When I threaten a chargeback, she tells me that I can’t do that because it’s illegal. At this point, I got fed up, hung up and called USAA.
Here’s where it gets amazing: I got a rep at the claims office (in about t-minus 30 seconds) whom I’ve never spoken to before. I explained the situation, and that the manager was now being rude and possibly lying to me over this bill. She listened carefully, apologized immediately for my trouble (!), and asked if she could call me back. Then she did call me back, less than half an hour later. (I regret that I can’t remember her name, but then again, every USAA rep I’ve ever dealt with was this good.) She’d spoken to USAA’s internal Enterprise representative, who’d looked up my file and discovered that Enterprise never did call USAA even once to resolve the issue. She passed along their apologies, and said that two complaints to Enterprise corporate were being filed — one on behalf of USAA for failing to properly handle the billing, and one on behalf of myself for managment lying to me and being rude on the phone. She said that Enterprise had promised to look into that manager (of the Garden City, MI branch on Ford Rd., if you’d like to know) and see if she needed to be reprimanded or replaced. I asked if I had to do anything to file my complaint, and she said no, it was all handled. (If it wasn’t USAA, I might not have believed her, but their record is literally perfect with me, so I do.) Furthermore, reimbursement for the entire rental expense was being mailed to me immediately. (They even apologized because they wanted to issue the reimbursement electronically so I’d have it faster, and they couldn’t because the system would only do that for the policyholder, and my mom doesn’t have a bank account there. But heck, I’ll take the apology in exchange for having to wait a few days!)
In short, USAA: Got me straight to a human; listened to my complaint and acted on it immediately; called back when they said they would; apologized repeatedly even though they didn’t really have to; and took swift, appropriate action to resolve my issue. They also DIDN’T call me a liar, treat me like a criminal, or lie to me about my case or the law, which the Enterprise manager did. Also, the Enterprise rep at USAA appears to have handled this issue quickly and decisively, though whether Enterprise or USAA should get the credit for that, I don’t know.
Oh, one more thing — someone banged into my car *again* (while it was parked) and knocked the rear-view mirror off last week. The person I was speaking to at USAA noticed that I had another open claim, and (rather than acting like I did something wrong or was a bothersome customer for having two claims in two months) offered me information on how to use a rental car service other than Enterprise, since she would “understand if [I] didn’t want to go back there after this”. No judgment, no fuss, just “here’s how to use any rental agency you like”.
Once again, USAA has some of the most impressive customer service I’ve ever seen. Whenever I see an ad for insurance advertising low rates, I think, “As strapped for cash as I am right now, I wouldn’t dream of using another company, even if their rates were half what I pay right now.” USAA’s investment in customer service has paid off by netting them at least one die-hard customer. (I say “at least”, because I also brag about them to everyone, so it’d be surprising if they didn’t get another customer from giving me good service, as well.)
Now, if we can just get that lesson put in some MBA textbooks, we’ll have it made!
Mary Marsala w/ Fries