Is Accident Forgiveness Simply a Pre-Paid Insurance Increase?

I’ve had my insurance with Allstate New Jersey for the last 11 years. It’s not a bad relationship. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them, and I guess we’re both happy.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to talk to Allstate. We sold a car last year, and I had to call to take it off the policy. I don’t remember how long it was before that when I had to talk to them last.

One of the last two times I had to call Allstate was right after Accident Forgiveness was rolled out. I thought that was a great idea. I’ve paid tens of thousands or more of dollars for car insurance, and so far I have not had to make a single claim. So by this point, after 20 years of driving (and paying insurance), being forgiven for an accident sounds like a great idea. I could probably have bought several cars for what I’ve paid in insurance, especially in the early years when it cost me a fortune to insure a car simply because I was young, single, and male.

But when they asked me if I wanted to add accident forgiveness to my policy, they explained that it would raise the cost of my policy. I politely declined.

I have to ask, if you’ve talked to your insurance company about accident forgiveness: isn’t this just another banking/insurance scam? Is this little more than pre-paying a policy increase? Or am I missing something?

MSN: 8 Lottery Winners Who Lost Their Millions

I’ve written several times about why I don’t waste my money on the lottery. I waste it on a lot of things, but not lottery tickets.

I know a lot of people who believe they can become “rich” through the lottery. I don’t buy it. I’m hardly an expert, but I have done more research on the lottery than anybody I know. That’s kind of sad, actually. I have 6 articles bookmarked on delicious. I’ve probably read a few more, but forgot to socially bookmark them. But that’s far more research than most people do on actual lottery winners.

It’s funny though, how I’ve read and bookmarked 6 articles, and nobody believes me that I can’t find evidence of a single lottery winner who didn’t blow the whole wad and end up worse off. They keep telling me “but, isn’t it possible that there’s somebody out there who won the lottery and was smart with the money?” I reply “Sure, it’s possible, but I haven’t come across one in my research. If you find one, please get me the information.”

Today on MSN, I found an article 8 Lottery Winners Who Lost Their Millions. Once again, it’s an account of people who won the lottery and lost everything. Some people lost families.

I do believe it’s possible that there are lottery winners out there who didn’t ultimately lose at life. But I don’t have any accounts of them. If you know of one, please let me know.

Is It Realistic To Be “Happy With What You Have”?

I met my wife when I was 25. Prior to that, I was that loser "nice guy" who complained about not being able to meet girls. When I had friends who complained about their wives or girlfriends, I'd tell them that they should be happy they have someone to complain about.

I think we all have an area of our lives that we're unhappy with, yet there is always somebody around to tell us that we should be happy with it. "I don't like my job" is answered by "Well, at least you have a job. You should be happy that you have a job".

On some levels, we should be content with what we have. But on other levels, doesn't some discontentment drive us on to better things? If you don't like your job, shouldn't that drive you to get a better one? If you don't like your neighborhood, shouldn't that drive you to move to a better one?

Is it really smart to stay in a job you don't like just because there are people who don't have jobs?

When I was a kid, my mom was a really bad cook. Yes, we talked about it after I grew up. She knew she wasn't very good at cooking, and my dad liked his food incredibly bland, which is what she cooked for. I like lots of flavor. When my mom cooked something that I couldn't eat, (seriously, I grew up thinking lasagna was horrible!) I'd be told "You should eat that. There are starving kids in Africa". I always suggested we send my mom's cooking to Africa and let me make a sandwich.

I'm not sure there are any hard and fast rules to govern the situations where you should be content with your situation and when you should strive for better. I think if you exercise wisdom and caution, you should be all right. If you don't like your car, but you have to place your family in financial peril to make the payments on a new one, then you should probably be content with your car. If you don't like your house, but you have to take up a sub-prime Adjustable Rate (Rape) Mortgage (ARM) to get a better one, then you should probably be content with what you have for now. If you don't like your spouse, I can't help you in this post, but I have come across some interesting thoughts on love that I might share in another if anybody will actually read it. It helped me a lot.

If you don't like your job, I'm all in favor of bettering yourself and getting a better job. I've done it a few times myself. There are ALWAYS jobs out there. Yes, even in the Great Depression there were jobs. 30% unemployment means 70% employment. You just have to stand out a little better to get a job in those situations, but they're out there.

I guess "be content with what you have" could function as a general guiding principle by which to live your life, but it shouldn't be considered a law of behavior.

I think I've rambled on enough and not given enough answers. What about you? What rules do you have for when you should be content and when you should strive to improve?

Cash for Clunkers: Buyer’s Remorse

I wish I were possible for Congress and the long line of government expansionist Presidents that we’ve had to get buyer’s remorse. They don’t, because they’re often very well insulated from accountability. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few months (got room for a couple more?) you’ve probably heard of the Cash for Clunker’s program.

According to Dave Ramsey, this program generated a lot of buyer’s remorse. It will probably generate a lot of other remorse in the future, like when the demand that got pushed up isn’t there later on when those people would have bought cars anyway. Dave Ramsey ranted about this program. Dave reads an article on AOL Autos and supplies his commentary. If you like Dave’s rants and commentary, don’t miss this one.

If you’d like to follow along on the original article, you can easily Google it. Or, I can save you the work. Here it is.

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Tim Ferriss: The 10 Worst Airlines In The U.S.

Tim Ferriss has a post about the 10 worst airlines in the U.S. He created a poll for people to vote on them. U.S. Airways came in at number 2.

You can cast your vote here. Who will you vote for? I voted for U.S. Airways. Since I live near Philly, which is a U.S. Airways hub, it’s been about 10 years since I’ve experienced any other airline. I think when my mom died, I flew Continental, since Houston Intergalactic is their hub, and it’s hard to get into San Antonio without flying through Houston. I haven’t had many problems with Continental, except for this one in 2006, but that was resolved with another call. I’ve never wished for Continental to go out of business like I have U.S. Airways.

United came in at #1. I’m not sure if I’ve ever flown United.

Reclaiming the Mind: Doing Business with Christians

C. Michael Patton asks an interesting question: have you ever been burned doing business with Christians? I think the question was directed more toward believers, but I’m sure most people in the west have stories. We’re notoriously picky diners and cheap tippers on Sunday afternoon right after church. I’ve heard horror stories about how waitresses are somehow expected to feed their families with those contrived Chick tracts rather than like money. My wife and I go out of our way to leave good tips on Sunday. If they don’t suspect we’re Christian, under the circumstances, we can live with that.

I’m not sure if I can say I’ve been burned by another believer, at least, not any more than I’ve been burned by anybody I’ve done business with. Have you ever done business with somebody who went out of his or her way to make sure you knew that he or she was a Christian, then either delivered a substandard product or service or just plain ripped you off?

High Pressure Sales: Is This Really Lying?

My wife and I bought a timeshare in Virginia Beach last year, and went on our first timeshare exchange this week. We went to Williamsburg, Virginia. We like Virginia. I travel to a couple of locations in Virginia for work, and I always enjoy it. The people are friendly and the hospitality is awesome. Let's face it, New Jersey license plates don't say "The hospitality state". Even in restaurants where the service is slow, it's still friendly, which sure beats the slow and apathetic service we get in some places in New Jersey (like the Lindenwold and Blackwood-Clementon McDonald's).

I knew from reading reviews of this resort that we'd be invited to a meal and then have to sit through a sales presentation. I thought about getting out of it, but they have ways… We went to it on Wednesday. I wouldn't say it was incredibly high-pressure, but they did use some tactics that I find questionable, and every time these tactics are used on me, I always wonder if I'm being lied to.

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Dishonesty From The Start Is a Poor Sales Practice

Last year I spent a week in Virginia for work. I ended up being able to get an ocean front suite in Virginia Beach within what I could be reimbursed for, so I brought the family with me. While we were there, we of course got invited to a timeshare presentation. We figured we'd eat the free breakfast, take the tour, listen to the pitch, then fight like heck to get out of there.

Yes, I am uncomfortable with taking free breakfasts and other gifts when I have no intention of buying. We like VA Beach, so we were intersested in what they had to say although we figured it would be priced out of reality for us. Somehow, it wasn't. They had a unit within a reasonable price, and it includes a deed, so my wife was interested and we bought in.

We're currently on our first exchange to Williamsburg, VA. The resort we're staying at wants us to have a free meal, then take a tour of a model and then take a survey. As usual, they claim there will be no pressure. I'm not sure. I read in some reviews of this resort that even if you already own a unit somewhere else, they will try very hard to get us to switch to a unit here. That won't happen. At least as we understand things, a VA Beach unit gives us some power in exchanges. We also like VA Beach, so we're not giving that up.

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Customer Service Failures:Does It Matter to Businesses That They Could Lose a Customer?

In 2003, my wife and I had to replace 10 windows and the sliding glass door in our house. We opted to use Window Wizards. The sales process and installation went well enough, but getting service has been a nightmare. Nobody seems to bother to check the voice mail on the service line. I’ve tried to call sales to get service, and still be given the voice mail. I’ve had service calls get canceled after taking a day off and sitting around. I’ve had repeated problems with some parts, and by the way, a “lifetime” warranty isn’t a lifetime warranty.

My wife recently started pointing out to me that I’m going to have to call Window Wizards again. The vinyl on the back of our sliding door is cracked again, and the door is hard to open and close. We have a window that needs to be adjusted because it won’t stay open, and the wheels on our screen door rusted out, rendering the door useless.

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Verizon FAIL: No Customer Service for my In-laws

I hope the word FAIL isn't too contrived. Since discovering Failblog, it's working it's way into my daily vocabulary. I think it's appropriate here.

I was with Verizon for several years. I don't miss them. You can use the Google search box to the right to search for all of my rantings over the years about Verizon DSL. You could not PAY me to go back on DSL, and every time a friend gets DSL, after asking me if they should and I say no and they get it anyway and I have to help them with a Verizon DSL problem, I'm reminded of how much I hate dealing with Verizon.

In the days when I had a Verizon land line, it was little more than an open conduit for telemarketers. Despite paying for Call Intercept, which was supposed to prevent "unavailable" calls from getting through, they continued to get through. All my land line was good for was for people I didn't want to talk to to get through to me about every 20 minutes all day long. My wife and I switched to AT&T cell phones and haven't looked back. Our AT&T lines haven't been without problems over the years, but for the most part, when I call AT&T, they don't jerk me around. They try to deal with the problem and I'm gratetful for that. I do have a Verizon BlackBerry that's provided by work. For the most part, it does a decent job. Every now and again when I have to tether it, I'll get cut off and go through up to a half hour of "The Remote Computer is not responding", but my company is paying for it so what can I do? During a period when my wife's line wasn't working very well, I tried to threaten AT&T with leaving for Verizon, but now that I have my iPhone, I'm not giving it up for anything. AT&T it is.

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