Kevin Warnock

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The tricky way Allied Insurance hit me with late fees for paying early, and what should be done about it

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I have been a happy customer of Allied Insurance for years.

As of today, I am not happy, because I have learned they have been in essence stealing from me without my knowledge. Once I pointed this out to them, they refused to fix the issue. I plan to write to the CEO, but first, I am writing to you my readers.

I pay Allied Insurance using the reliable and free Bill Pay service from San Francisco Fire Credit Union. I instruct that the checks are to be mailed on the first of the month, as my due date is on the 10th of the month.

I live in San Francisco and the checks are mailed to a post office box in Los Angeles. That means the checks should arrive at Allied on the 3rd or 4th of the month. My April 2012 check was printed and presumably mailed on Saturday March 31, 2012. It should have arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 3rd, 7 days before the payment was due. But Allied did not cash the check until April 19, 2012. They put a USD $10.00 reinstatement charge on my bill.

Amy H. in customer support waived this fee, and I thank her for that. She recommended I reference my account number rather than my policy number on my checks. She said it can slow down check cashing by one day if you reference the policy number only. My concern is that 20 days elapsed between check mailing and check cashing. Ms. H. could not explain why my checks have been routinely held past the due date. It turns out this has happened on an unknown number of past occasions. I have seen these late charges on past bills, but I didn’t study what was happening other than verifying my checks went out 10 days before the due date. I should have been more inquisitive, I acknowledge.

But now that I have gotten to the bottom of the story, I believe the only acceptable resolution is for Allied to refund the late fees it collected from me on every occasion it was in possession of my check before the due date. I don’t know how many times this has happened, as Ms. H. did not tell me, even though I asked her to. She said she can only refund one late fee per 12 month period. I patiently and repeatedly reminded her I paid early each month and had irrefutable proof since my credit union scans the front and back of all cashed checks. I offered to send her all the checks for her to review. She did not take me up on the offer. She flat out refused to make an adjustment, even when I made it clear I considered Allied’s behavior to be exceptionally improper.

Recognizing I would get no further with Ms. H., I asked for the name and address of the CEO. She refused and instead provided me with the address to The Office of Customer Advocacy, at 3 Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH 43215. I told her that was not what I asked for. I asked her if she was refusing to give me the name of the CEO, and she said she was refusing. I asked Ms. H. for her name, and she told me her first and last name. I asked if there is an identification or reference number that she could provide me for her that would mask her identity, and she said there is not. So I omitted all but the first initial of her last name on this post, because my concern is not with Ms. H., but with the policies of her employer, which I explained to her several times. Ms. H. was pleasant throughout the conversation. Her statement that Allied would keep the money it took from me for paying early is what I have a big problem with.

I predict that I will receive a credit for all the past occurrences, but that it will take months for me to get it.

I advised Ms. H. that if a check is held for account number lookup that once the account number is found that the check should be credited as of the day it was received, not the day the account number was found. My name and correct address were on the checks, as were all the digits of my policy number. Ms. H. said I should have included the bill stub with my check. I explained that millions of people use bill payment services from the financial institutions, and that there is no way to include the bill stub as the check is printed and mailed automatically each month.

Allied needs to update its procedures, as I am certain I am not the only one being hit with improper late fees caused by Allied holding checks for days or weeks. I spoke with Ms. H. at about 8:30pm the evening of April 25, 2012.

Written by Kevin Warnock

April 25th, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Protest

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