Customer relations…or horror show…you decide!

Vince M Blog, Rants...

This saga is dedicated to all the victims of MPI’s complete disregard for what is right and fair when it comes to their treatment of certain individuals and certain claims. The example I’ll use to illustrate my point concerns a young woman (to protect her privacy, we’ll call her Betty).

Betty bought a car in Toronto (through a family friend) and, shortly after, had it driven to Winnipeg by another acquaintance. The driver stayed in Winnipeg for a few days before returning home and while here, he borrowed the car to go to a local gym. While driving, for whatever reason (alcohol or drugs were not involved), he lost control of the car and hit a cement pole, doing serious damage to the front end of the car.

Betty filed a claim with MPI that should have been pretty straightforward…all her paperwork was in order (the car was still on temporary insurance) and her insurance was valid. All she needed was her claim settled as quickly as possible, because she needed a car to get to and from her two jobs.

What she got was 14 months from hell.

MPI decided that because the car was from out of province and on a temporary policy (until it could be registered in Manitoba), that Betty was a part of a “conspiracy”, to “total” the car and collect a settlement. For the next 12 months,  Betty was put through numerous highly stressful “interviews” (MPI’s term for interrogations)  with MPI’s special investigation unit. The investigators repeatedly insinuated that they knew the claim was a scam and that Betty was a part of it. Betty provided all documentation on the sale from the seller in Toronto, the payment (which her parents had given her) and any other info MPI demanded to prove hers was a legitimate claim. But that wasn’t good enough for MPI.

When they failed to find even the slightest proof to back up their accusations, they should have done the right thing and apologized and paid out her claim. They didn’t. Instead, they dismantled parts of the car’s engine and declared that the motor was “shot” (even though it had just been driven here from Toronto) and that the cost of repair would be over $20,000 and would not be covered. They went on to suggest that she should just “walk away” from the claim and take a $16,000 loss. Really.

Betty hired a local advocate to help her with her nightmare and, eventually, the advocate convinced MPI to pay her at least a portion ($6000) of the car’s worth, knowing the so-called “engine” issue was flaky at best and just MPI’s way of saying they still didn’t believe her and if they couldn’t “get her” on the scam, they’d get her another way.

Once MPI agreed to pay her $6000, however, the advocate moved the claim to arbitration, effectively taking it out of MPI’s hands and into an independent appraisal process. MPI’s appraiser, hired to represent them in the dispute, towed the company line and refused to increase the offer in arbitration.

The two arbitrators reached a stalemate and eventually agreed to appoint me as an umpire to settle the claim. As umpire, my job was to listen to both sides of the story, do my own inspection of the vehicle and decide a value that was fair to both sides and that each side had to live with. For the record, the car was in great shape inside and out, but, because MPI hadn’t bothered to put the engine back together, I was unable to hear it run. How convenient.

Betty’s advocate presented multiple examples of similar vehicles for sale in the marketplace, as well as additional resource info that supported a much higher value. MPI’s representative presented NOTHING. Not one document, not one example. Not even a phone call, email or text. It was obvious that he had nothing to support his (or MPI’s) position. MPI also failed to provide an independent assessment of the engine issue.

In the end, I concluded that MPI’s attempts to implicate Betty in a scam were baseless and, with only MPI’s in-house “inspection” of the engine to go on, the “shot engine” claim could not be taken seriously.

In the end, I decided that Betty would get $15,250 plus taxes for her claim (she had overpaid slightly when she bought it) and, fortunately for MPI, that ended the matter as far as my role in it was concerned.

If my role as umpire had allowed it, I would also have awarded Betty additional compensation. She went without a vehicle for over a year, she lost one job because it took hours to get there on multiple buses and she put up with false accusations and harassment for far too long and deserved to be paid for her additional losses. Unfortunately, the umpire’s sole responsibility is to decide the actual cash value of the subject vehicle. To collect what she deserved beyond that, Betty would have to take MPI to court and that can be time-consuming and costly.

Betty’s story is not unique. MPI treats some of their customers like this on a regular basis. And, in all fairness, sometimes their suspicions are right. Sometimes.

When they’re not, they should have the decency to apologize and try treating people with a little more respect.

Betty’s still waiting for hers.