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October 2nd, 2019

Killing Your Customer’s Trust, One Improvement At A Time

For decades…ever since I was a teenage boy…Kodak HC-110 has been my developer of choice for black & white film. I have used it to excellent results on Kodak films, and Fuji Neopan, and Agfa and Rollie films. I’ve used it for so long I know it instinctively.

No more. I’ve just been informed on one of the photography groups I follow, that Kodak is selling a “new and improved” formulation of HC-110. The big difference? They omit a step to remove water from the concentrate. This effectively nullifies one of the big advantages of that particular developer: the concentrate had an insane longevity so long as you didn’t open the bottle. Otherwise it is the same formula. You get the same developer you always did when you dilute the concentrate to working solutions.

They’re saying they did it out of “environmental concerns”. However, they’re still selling the original concentrate in Europe. So you have to suppose the environment in question was Wall Street, yet again. Dig it…Kodak degraded the longevity of a product that’s been favored by many photographers for generations, to move more product. And there goes my trust.

I’m still not feeling well, but I just now took an emergency walk over to Service Photo hoping to snatch up the last of the old concentrate, but Kodak beat me too it. The shelf there is full of the new, where before they only stocked one or two bottles at a time of the original. So I guess I’m done with it. I don’t care that it’s the same thing going into the tank. I care that Kodak doesn’t care about the quality of its products anymore if higher quality means fewer sales. Trust is gone, and with it my business.

I still have two bottles of the original concentrate left. Kodak ticked me off a few years ago when they started selling it only by the liter instead of the pint, which meant I ended up wasting a lot of it. I don’t want to risk separating the liter bottle into smaller ones because once you open that bottle it starts absorbing moisture from the air and that’s what kills its longevity. Water activates HC-110 concentrate. Stick an exposed piece of film into the concentrate and nothing happens. It needs water. But once it gets it in any amount the clock starts ticking. Well…ticking faster. Much faster.

Watching to see what the other photographers head to as substitutes.

by Bruce | Link | React!

May 23rd, 2016

Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)

Seriously starting to consider consulting with a lawyer about State Farm Insurance and Scott Garvey, the agent(s) that’s been screwing around with me.

1) I got a letter from the Maryland Insurance Administration concerning my protest of their rate hike on my policy, for damage to my car while it was parked in front of my house, that was caused by a neighbor. State Farm (you may recall) said they were raising my rate because they had to pay out. Yes, because I chose to work the claim through them rather than the other agency I did not trust. But they got their money back from the other agency, including my deductable. So the MD Insurance Administration apparently got them to agree to roll it back and refund the extra.

Well, it’s been two months and not only have I not seen a refund, the next six month bill came last week and it is Even More than the previous one. So soon I will be sending another letter to the MD Insurance Administration, basically telling them that State Farm is giving them the finger.

2) Whilst shopping for another insurance carrier, I discover that State Farm posted my claim to the Lexus-Nexus database as an “accident” claim rather than a “comprehensive” claim. That’s significant because “accident” raises the rates other agencies will quote me. But since the car was parked when it happened it should have been posted as “comprehensive”. So I’ve been given a number to call Lexus-Nexus and now I have to challenge that too. Which of course I will.

Enough of this crap and you get the sense that it isn’t merely bureaucratic clusterfuck, it’s policy and the company really is predatory by nature.

[Update…] Even allowing that I’m being quoted higher prices because State Farm posted my claim as an “accident”, the prices I’m being quoted for the same coverage are still Hundreds of dollars less over a six month term.  

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket…(continued)

October 13th, 2015

Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket.

Last July  a neighbor cut it a tad too close trying to park in the space in front of mine, and hit Spirit’s  driver’s side front fender and did some damage. My security cameras caught the whole thing, but he fessed up (he’s a nice guy…very apologetic.  His wife, their infant son and his in-laws were in the car with him when he did it and he was just red with embarrassment). Nobody was hurt. He  called his insurance company (Erie Insurance Exchange). Eventually the total cost of the damage to Spirit was $1,322 for the body work, which was completed in August (to perfection by Valley Motors), of which I had to pay my $250 deductible. My agent assured me they would try to get my deductible back from the other insurer (which they did).

I filed the claim with my insurance company, State Farm, because after talking with his company I felt uneasy about trusting them to do a proper estimate and not give me any trouble over getting my car repaired. State Farm sent out a very professional adjuster to look my car over and give me an estimate, which I took to my dealer. Later, I got a check from State Farm, and a letter stating that they would now seek subrogation from the other company.

Last Saturday State Farm sent me a letter notifying me they were raising my rate for…get this…”NOT AT-FAULT ACCIDENT, PAYMENTS OF $1,322 COLLISION”

Hahahahaha…you’re NOT AT-FAULT and we’re going to be reimbursed for the money we paid you…so now we’re raising your rate! It’s a NOT AT-FAULT WIN-WIN!

So I went to complain to my agent, (Scott Garvey on Roland Avenue), today, and basically got a bunch of boilerplate smiles and explanations of why I have to pay more even if I didn’t do anything and they are getting the money back from the other company anyway. They gave me a very well practiced performance and a very polite and professional stonewalling. One of the managers looked at me throughout the entire exchange as if he could barely keep from laughing at me. Oh you poor thing…you think complaining is going to get you anywhere with an insurance company? How…adorable.

So my next step is to file a formal protest with the Insurance Commissioner. But since that was the advice I was given on my way out the door my hunch is the reason they don’t care is because they know they don’t have to.

And truth be told I feel somewhat foolish. I trusted them. Why did I do that? This isn’t the country I grew up in once, where big business was at least theoretically regulated against gouging their customers, and accountable to the regulators. When I left the offices of Scott Garvey they were all looking at me like I was some poor imbecile who thought his clean driving record, and monthly payments on the car insurance, plus the other business I do with State Farm, actually meant I didn’t deserve to be screwed over at the first opportunity. But I will at least Try to get some satisfaction about this.

I just today got one of their letters inviting me to invest in their State Farm retirement savings accounts. Let me see if I can explain to the droid who wrote me that why that isn’t likely.

I’m going to need a lot of postage stamps in the coming weeks…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Will Pick Your Pocket.

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