Our Lifestyle is a Mystery to Most…


rant/  verb 

verb: rant; 3rd person present: rants; past tense: ranted; past participle: ranted; gerund or present participle: ranting; speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way.  “he was still ranting on about the unfairness of it all”   synonyms: fulminate, go on, hold forth, vociferate, sound off, spout, pontificate, bluster, declaim; 

I guess this blog post will come off as a rant.  I don’t mean it as such…I am not relieving stress in the writing of it.  I am not trying to “set the world straight.”  I just find the juxtaposition of what we do with what or how the world expects us to do or exist to be fascinating.  Even energizing. 

And besides,  it is pretty likely that the next several days, as we drive across west Texas will present us with not much else to write about,  Marfa UFOs notwithstanding. 

Let the fulmination/vociferation/pontification/declaimation begin!


Rant #1
State Farm
The first target of my observation is STATE FARM, with whom we have auto insurance for the clown car.  And with whom we TRIED to have RV insurance.  More on the latter, later. 

When we signed on to SF (actually,  re-upped…we had been with State Farm for decades until they suddenly became too expensive, and now not so much),  they offered us a discounted rate based on low mileage and on not only a safe driving record but on safe driving habits.  This they proposed to measure by installing a little device in the car.   

This device is apparently a combination GPS receiver, motion sensor and bluetooth transmitter.  It is paired with an app on my phone,  reporting everything about our driving habits (such as acceleration and braking… our NASCAR habits in the Clown Car?)  to SF via my phone.  Seems a little intrusive,  but we know from a privacy standpoint we are really not all that interesting,  and we ARE interested in saving money

So,  in the first week this device was installed,  I knew we had a problem. 

The device records “trips” every time it senses that the clown car is moving.  Even when the car is being towed.  Which accounts for BY FAR most of the CCs movement. Which should not accrue to our CAR insurance,  if you think about it,  since we are covered by the Bus policy while driving that vehicle. 

And, apparently,  the app wants me to enter an odometer reading FOR EVERY TRIP.  So,  two problems here.  1)  we drive the CC approx. 10 miles for every 100 we tow.  State Farm was not comprehending this.  And, 2) Was State Farm REALLY expecting me to enter odometer readings for EVERY  TRIP? (including phantom trips where the car was being towed)?    The “discount measurement tool” was beginning to look like a real pain in the arse.  Even the Secretary of the Treasury was wondering if it was going to be worth the discount?

I called the special number SF has for Device issues.  The FIRST solution proposed seemed quite brilliant to the agent on the phone.  She wanted me  to move the little device into the trunk of the car so it could not connect to my phone while driving up in the bus and thus not record trips. She said trips are logged ONLY when the device is close enough to connect to the phone app.  

I told them we DRIVE A SMART CAR,  and the difference in distance between the dashboard and the “trunk” is about 2 ft!  If it connected on the dash when I am actually driving the bus,  it would connect in the “trunk.”  

I then explained the disconnect about our lifestyle from an insurance point of view.  Most trips recorded are not actually trips.  The rep put me on hold several times to discuss this with who knows whom.  Clearly,  our lifestyle does not fit, actuarily, into their world.  Ultimately,  she passed the buck to our agent.  Said the agent needed to figure out what to do about this. 

Our agent also needed some explanation of the issue.  This is the same agent who said our bus had a CASH VALUE of $157,000 and that this was effectively an  AGREED VALUE that they would pay on a loss despite the wording in the policy stating Cash Value (with no number associated). 

I know that CASH VALUE is an insurance method of screwing claimants, while AGREED VALUE is an insurance method for extracting higher premiums.

I was looking for an AGREED VALUE policy, because I knew that a settlement based on CASH VALUE for a 1981 vehicle would be less than $5k.  But $157K?  Verbally, but not in writing?   (For reference,  $25K would be a fair, agreed value).  SF would not change the written wording or state this value (or any value).  Eventually,  the agent admitted to making a mistake in calculating the hypothetical cash value…he had looked up a 2008 Bluebird…the only one he COULD look up in his “book” (whatever that book is).  He never agreed on the semantics of “Cash Value” differing from “Agreed Value.”   Ultimately,  we secured an RV policy with Progressive,  who at least understand and are willing to write Agreed Value policies. 

And as for the Clown Car (on which Progressive was MUCH more expensive), eventually,  the agent decided that we could just declare  “LOW MILEAGE” for the Clown Car (<7,500/yr) and give them an odometer picture once a year (the odometer does NOT advance when we are towing).  MUCH EASIER WAY TO PROVE that we don’t drive the clown car much. 

Rant #2 Amazon,
and the USPS

Our next RANT relates to Amazon,  and while we are at it, to the US Postal Service.

We use Amazon a LOT.  We buy everything from certain toiletries to bus parts.  As you can imagine,  our lifestyle imposes significant challenges on deliveries.  NORMALLY,  we just identify a place (usually an RV Park) where we are going to be staying for a few days,  and direct deliveries there, having first contacted them to let them know they would receive some packages in advance of our arrival.  Amazon has a process for adding shipping addresses during order entry…which they think has to do with sending someone a birthday present so they offer the option to include a gift receipt.  Not the reason, but the process works well enuf.

But, in Mesa, AZ, of all places, with THOUSANDS of snowbirds living in RVs, Amazon’s own delivery service could not manage to find the office in our RV park or to follow specific delivery instructions to leave the package “under the bus named ‘RV WHERE YET’ in space #23.”  It took several days to get our delivery beyond the day we expected it.  

Now, normally,  and for most people, a few extra days might not be a big deal.  But in our life,  we might be 1,000 miles away!  It just happened that we were in Mesa for long enuf, so THIS TIME, no issue.  But at another time we would have to re-route, re-ship or otherwise manage this.  And explain to Amazon why the package cannot be FORWARDED by the office at the missed delivery (not their problem,  and they won’t do it,  basically).

And,  we ALWAYS seem to have a problem with deliveries by the US Postal Service,  which Amazon sometimes uses.  Let me summarize it this way: 

Our “Tweeter-in-Chief” seems to feel Amazon is taking advantage of the USPS (and therefore of us).  I think it is the other way around…whatever Amazon Pays the USPS is too much,  and the aggravation they cause Amazon’s customers cannot be calculated (priceless). 

I wish Amazon had a box to check when one places an order to INSIST no USPS deliveries.  Perhaps I should tweet this?  But of course,  the facts of the situation have no effect on the Tweeter-in-chief. 

Rant #3 Jury Duty

And,  for our next rant,  how about JURY DUTY?  Liz has been called twice while we were overseas.  Once we were scheduled to be overseas and by calling in to a special number,  they postponed.  The next time,  we were still overseas.  I had to have our accountant FAX copies of our plane tickets – no other method available or suffcient.  They postponed again.  

I actually called and asked them if there was a way to SCHEDULE Jury Duty,  because of course we are in Chicago only a couple times a year.  The lady at the Clerk’s office could not even fathom what I was saying.  I wanted to SCHEDULE JURY DUTY?  Yes!  Because we believe in doing our civic duty,  but we cannot do so if we are out of town.  If we could just program certain dates in May or November/December,  we would be DELIGHTED.  She could no more do that (or understand that) than fly

I assume Liz will shortly get another summons, and we will have to go through all of this again.

Rant #4 Husky
Fuel Stations
Last Rant.  Looking ahead to our summer in Eastern Canada,  I had heard about a diesel fueling option up there from “Husky.”  Other RVers say to get a “Husky Card” to gain access to lots of “card-lok” pumps meant to fuel commercial or fleet vehicles; usually at a good discount.  Sounded like a reasonable idea.  But CLEARLY,  Husky Accounts are normally for commercial entities.   

I wrote to their regional manager and asked him how to apply.  He said,  “No Problem” and sent me the form by Email.  I filled it out EXCEPT for the fields that asked for our “HST/GST numbers.”  I left those fields blank,  since we are not a Canadian entity. And, I  referred to this specifically in my cover-email returning the form to the guy for processing.   

About 2 weeks later,  I got an email from him saying, “This form was rejected for no HST/GST,” can you please provide one.  Now, clearly,  he had not read the cover letter (it was ONLY ONE PARAGRAPH,  I SWEAR!).  I reminded him.   I told him I was a USA Private Citizen,  travelling in an RV.  Wanting to buy fuel from him!  Lot’s of it (we get 7mpg).    After a few days he wrote back:  “Do you have a DOT#?”  This is the number assigned to USA over-the-road trucks and buses;  again commercial.  

The latest “option” offered to GST#-less South-of-the-border-undocumented-immigrants was the “opportunity” to obtain $500 credit from Husky if we would deposit $200 on account.  $1,000 credit if we would deposit $500 on account.    The letter explained how this was an innovative new program they had designed to help people and new businesses build a credit history.  I wrote back and asked if anyone actually DID put funds on deposit with Husky, because I surely would not (plenty of places to buy fuel).

They said they could not offer us any more “credit” because they were unable to run a D&B or an Equifax Credit Check.  I said,  D&B will not have anything on a PRIVATE CITIZEN; and, well,   our Credit is LOCKED,  because of the Equifax Credit Breach.  I explained that I could UNLOCK it long enough for them to do a credit check if that would help them extend credit,  because we would NOT be depositing money with Husky.  I expect they will write back,  asking for our FEIN# and the name of our corporate bank.  

From this I have learned that cluelessness and inability to process our lifestyle crosses international borders.  As of this writing,  this rant is unresolved.  We shall see if we can get a Husky Card given our lifestyle and lack of “numbers.” 


2 thoughts on “Our Lifestyle is a Mystery to Most…

  • I understand your need to rant. Being in a non-traditional way of life seems to be full of opportunities to rant about how others “don’t seem to get it” The best revenge seems to be to “Enjoy the heck out of being nontraditional!”

  • Tweety-Pie has a desperate need to create distractions and I guess Amazon, ubiquitous and distantly related to the Washington Post, is a big(ly) target. I agree, Amazon does have a problem sending to different addresses, btw.

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