Thursday, November 17, 2011

State Farm Just Doesn't Get The Internet

State Farm is apparently using a business model from the 1800's.  If you are looking for insurance on your horseless carriage, you may want to look elsewhere.

I have eliminated all but two policies with State Farm.   We have one whole life policy with them, which is self-funding at this point, and a small policy on a rental condo we own.  That's it.

We decided to get rid of our P.O. Box, and use our home address - it saves about $60 a year.  Changing addresses for most companies is pretty easy to do.  Go on the website, log in, change your address.  How hard is that?

GEICO gets it.  State Farm doesn't.

I log onto the State Farm website, and find my two policies.  I can edit my name, my phone number, my e-mail address, and my "mailing address".  But I cannot edit my "Billing Address" for some reason.  They already have my correct address as my "mailing address" but still send notices to my "billing address" (the P.O. Box) for some reason.

So I call the State Farm IT department.  Talk about Dumb and Dumber.

They confirm that in order to change the billing address, I have to contact the AGENT, and since we have two policies in two States, we have two different Agents.

OK, no problem, just click on the "Contact Your Agent" link, right?

Wrong.  Dead links.

You read that right.  The IT Department of a major insurance company puts up a website where the links to the agent's e-mail and their websites are dead links.  I expect this from amateur HTML coders such as myself, or from the "Jones Family Website!" but not from a major Corporation.

The question remains, how do these people stay in business?  Their insurance products are overpriced, and they are selling agency franchises all over the place.

All they seem to be interested in selling is "State Farm Bank" investment services - and that is no real bargain, let me tell you.

Of course, some folks say, "I'd rather deal with a real person than with some website!"  And apparently State Farm's idea is to make the website so hard to use that you would rather deal with a "real person".

The problem with that model is twofold.  First, it is time-consuming.   Second, it introduces another level of error in the system, as the "real person" you talk to often screws up everything.

Give me a well-run website any day - and these things are not experimental rocket science anymore.

No, I would rather log onto my Bank's website and balance my accounts every day, than to spend $5 in gas driving to the bank to talk to a teller - or waiting on musical hold for 10 minutes to talk to someone.

And the same is true with insurance.  GEICO gets this.  State Farm doesn't.