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Trying to remember to keep petty annoyances in check

I woke up grumpy after a poor night’s sleep. I was mad at myself for a couple of mistakes. I was mad at my insurance company for giving me an unreasonable quote to protect my newly upgraded house. (They want to insure it and my possessions for way more than they’re worth, and they insist on including coverage for expensive outbuildings I don’t have — all to generate a premium I can’t afford.)

In desperate need of a short getaway after this summer’s push-push-push to finish Mo Saoirse’s exterior, I checked the one little beachy studio I used to be able to afford. As I thought; its rental cost had more than doubled since last time, so that was out. But AirBnB had some pretty darned good deals in the area. I created an account with them.

AirBnB happily accepted my login. They insisted upfront on knowing my birthday. (I lied, but gnrrrrrr.) Oh yes, they had to have a working phone number. When I found an amazingly inexpensive cabin with a river view, available for two days just when I wanted it, they accepted alllll my payment information. No sweat. Data-data-data; happy to have it, thanks for the gift.

Then when I clicked the final button to confirm the booking … they tell me they’re no longer accepting payments on my “out of date app” and dismiss me with an order to “update your client.”

Well, I wasn’t on a smartphone. I wasn’t using some app I could update, but just whatever website they chose to present me, with relevant scripts allowed (but none of the Google, FB, and Bing crap they also wanted to foist on innocent would-be customers). But there I was, stuck. I’d just given marketing data up the wahzoo to a company that won’t deal with me and won’t give a coherent explanation of why.

BUT. Ever since then AirBnB has been spamming me, both via phone and email, to “accept the invitation” of a particular host I queried (but decided against) to make a reservation at their place. This despite me having clicked the “no marketing” option when I signed on.

AND. Shortly after that, I got a voice call from a number I didn’t recognize. I ignored it as I always do — then was surprised the caller actually left a voice mail.

The message, from a very grumpy male stranger, was, “I don’t know how you g*d***ed got this number, but don’t you g*dd**m call me again!”

My sentiments exactly.


Ahem. Yes. I admit it felt good to rant that rant. I needed to do it. Whether you patient readers needed to see it or not is another question.

But I’m not ranting merely to rant. I’m ranting to de-rantify and get the day on a different track.

You see, I’m remembering another extremely, wildly, overwhelmingly annoying Monday. A Monday on which every little thing went wrong from breakfast to bedtime. A Monday on which it seemed all the gods were against me and the fates were engaged in a conspiracy to irritate and upset me at every turn.

It was, in fact, another Monday, September 10. And the very next morning I sat down first thing to write a hearty rant in my journal about how rotten the world had been to me the previous day.

But before I ranted that rant, I checked my online news feeds.

It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Ever since then, I’ve tried to keep things in better perspective.


  1. ellendra
    ellendra September 10, 2018 12:03 pm

    “and they insist on including coverage for expensive outbuildings I don’t have”

    Isn’t that a form of fraud?

  2. Claire
    Claire September 10, 2018 12:18 pm

    Well, if it is, they’re pretty upfront about it.

    I have no idea where they got their outlandish valuations for the house itself or for my possessions, but the non-existent outbuildings are the only place where they outright demand to insure something that doesn’t exist.

    Oh well, there are other companies out there. But damn, the thought of dealing with even more inflexible bureaucrats doesn’t thrill me.

  3. ExpatNJ
    ExpatNJ September 10, 2018 1:02 pm

    Claire, your phone number might have been wrongfully appropriated by the numerous TelePests (scammers) that infest our phone system.

    They used to try numerous phone numbers sequentially to find non-working numbers with which to display as their outgoing number (so, there was no working phone number a victim could call back). The phone companies plugged that leak. So, now, the TelePests just program their systems to display sequentially-changing and/or random outgoing numbers.

    The “grumpy male stranger” might just have received an unwanted TelePest call that displayed your phone number. Imagine how a legitimate ‘mom-and-pop’ business feels about being used like that.

    I have been tracking The Telepests since the mid-1980s. I could (should?) write a book …

  4. Claire
    Claire September 10, 2018 2:44 pm

    Expat — Although I’ve never made a study of TeleVermin (shudder), I guessed it might be something like that. Thanks for the sorry confirmation.

    ellendra — I talked with a local insurance agent for another company and she says that adding 10% to the policy of outbuildings is standard — even when no such buildings exist. She made the case that preferred insurance, even with such weird extra coverage, is still less expensive for greater coverage than non-preferred, which might not have it. But to me, that’s apples and oranges.

    It would be more efficient and economical to be able to pick and choose the coverages I need.

    I originally planned to comparison shop, and I know I should. But the process is so horrifically invasive and privacy-destroying that I can’t stand the thought of contacting other companies.

  5. ellendra
    ellendra September 10, 2018 2:53 pm

    I wonder, if you asked how soon you could make a claim on the loss of the outbuildings, since they obviously aren’t there anymore, would the company suddenly find a way to remove that coverage?

  6. larryarnold
    larryarnold September 11, 2018 12:16 am

    I had a brief career in insurance, which confirmed that I suck at selling stuff. But I did get some insight into the business, particularly while qualifying for the license.

    [Devil’s advocate]
    Turns out almost all of what goes into an insurance policy is mandated by federal and state law. In Texas, which isn’t a particularly restrictive state, the first-level Table of Contents of the Insurance Code prints out to more than a dozen pages.
    Insurance companies have to have standard homeowner insurance policies that have been tested in court.
    Note I’m not letting them off the hook. Just remember that 95% of the decisions insurance executives make aren’t about helping or hurting customers; they’re about complying with all levels of the insurance laws.
    [/Devil’s advocate]

  7. Claire
    Claire September 11, 2018 6:31 am

    “95% of the decisions insurance executives make aren’t about helping or hurting customers; they’re about complying with all levels of the insurance laws.”

    Sigh. I hadn’t known that. But why am I not surprised.

  8. Paul Joat
    Paul Joat September 11, 2018 8:17 am

    If you really want to stay in that cabin, it might be possible to track down the owners direct contact information and rent it from them directly. The guys at this podcast talked about in their Q&A segment

  9. Mike
    Mike September 11, 2018 10:38 am

    You think you have problems with getting insurance, try living in a log home. For you insurance go find a decent broker. Never deal with an insurance company direct. A broker has several insurance companies to chose from and will give you options.

    I know the feeling about trying to book things on line, good luck. I stopped using online booking because of issues like in one case arriving at a destination only to find the booking wasn’t made. While I may have to pay a small fee, I use travel agents to book my trips. That way when things go south, as they sometimes do, I have someone to call and fix things for me.

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