I was suddenly aware that one of them (let’s call her Doris) was regaling her friends with a tale about her recent experience when renewing her household insurance.
She was a long-standing customer of the insurer in question and had received her renewal quotation, which was around £360. Her friends immediately grimaced yet nodded in unison, as if to reluctantly agree that is about what they paid.
But a smirk of self-satisfaction then appeared on the face of Doris – a recent widow, it transpired.
Her daughter had taken over her late husband’s role of looking at her bills and on her mother’s behalf immediately went on to a price comparison site and got a quote for half the price – from the existing insurer with whom her parents had dealt with for decades.
Doris does not use the internet – but she does use the telephone. She contacted the company to ask for an explanation as to why she, a loyal customer for many years who had never made a claim, was being apparently ripped off. “It is always cheaper on the internet” was the impotent reply from the call centre agent, who advised Doris to reject her renewal quotation and get her daughter to complete a new application on the website.
Doris may seem to be a soft target but her daughter isn’t. The web-savvy families of the elderly now look upon it as a challenge to get the best deals for their relatives, mostly as a penance for not having them living with them. Ignore them and their influence at your peril.
The elderly “victims” of complacency and poor treatment – and their families – do not forgive the perpetrators. More often than not, they will take the first opportunity to vote with their feet and don’t return.
What’s more, Doris and her friends love telling anyone who will listen about their experiences. Bad news travels fast in the grey market.