Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 06/28/2012


Two weeks ago, minding my own business at a stoplight, a ridiculously oversized 4 x 4 truck in front of me decided to back up.  Who backs up at a stoplight???  It was one of those I-can’t-believe-what-I-am-seeing moments, watching his backing-up lights move in my direction. I got stuck in that cycle long enough that I didn’t even have time to use the horn.  He just smashed into me.  Headlight plastic all over the street, hood pushed up in the shape of a low-slung tent, the black plastic from the front grill collecting on the pavement.

I was nice.  It’s just my nature.  It’s a car.  Human error. Happens to all of us. We exchanged information.  I got a call from his insurance company that same afternoon.  They told me to pick a place where I wanted to have the car fixed and let them know where we’re taking it.  Hmmm.  They don’t even want me to get an estimate or two?  Guess not.

So we run the car to a dealership in Kansas City that can fix my 1998 Volkswagen Jetta.  I loved that car.  A hand-me-down from one of the teenagers, it was my first real car after years and years of driving an SUV to haul around eight Dickinson kids. This felt like a sports car, and I was told by more than one of my kids and my spouse that I drove it like a sports car.  Can’t a fifty-something mom have some fun after decades of carpooling in a tank???  Jeesh.

Three days later, I got a call from Progressive, presumably to tell me that the car they told me they were going to fix was ready.

The wheels were about to fall off my day.

This call comes on a Wednesday afternoon about three o’clock.  The Progressive insurance guy says, “Well we can’t fix your car…….it’s totaled.  The payout on that is going to be $3,335.49.” And without so much as a pause, “You will have to bring the title to our Lenexa, Kansas office and we will not authorize pay storage for the car past Friday so you’ll have to get to the dealership to get that car signed over to us.  And the rental car has to be turned back in Monday.”

I said, “Boy, it seems like you guys aren’t being very flexible….you are giving me very little time to find a new car when I don’t even have my check from you yet.”  And here’s where it gets good, “Well, if you think I’m being inflexible, then you will just have to return the rental car by Friday at 5:00.”  Just like that, he knocks two days off the rental car time because I challenged his flexibility.

So I then tell him that I intend to take the radio out of the car.  It was a couple of notches up from the standard-issue factory radio.  Long pause…..where he puts two and two together and it dawns on him that I have now crossed the line into one-of-those-customers…and I am told that the car was “priced” with a radio but that if I want to buy the radio back from them…..

I said, “Let me get this straight.  Your customer hit me.  I am now without a car and have a few bills and some change to buy a new car that I was told you were fixing.  And now you are telling me that I have to buy back my own radio?”

I am one of Flo’s biggest fans.  I laugh at her in the Progressive commercials.  In fact, there is a Flo Halloween costume that you can get from  Includes the white apron, the big tricked-out nametag, an “I heart insurance” badge and a blue headband.  $29.95.  Could it be that Flo is completely unaware of how this whole Progressive insurance deal plays out in the real world?

Maybe I should consider a gecko costume for Halloween?


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