A letter to State Farm:
Our story begins and from the look of things will end on the South Side of Chicago. It really revolves around one, maybe two main points loyalty and Fleetwood Mac. Its 1977 and our parents Troy and Brenda Hall, have a house, one child (another follows a few years later) and 1976 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. ‘Rumors’ as a five year old, this album had little to no impact on my life at the time. My parents, aunts and uncles however, it was blasting on every radio channel in Chicago. A couple of years earlier is when we started our relationship with State Farm. Our agent then is the same agent now. For those doing the math it has been 42 years, not quite the golden anniversary but almost. A lot has happened it those 42+ years:
- We move out to the burbs
- Dad starts a new career.
- An addition to the family.
- Four houses.
- High school graduations.
- 14 cars.
- Three small business.
- College graduations.
- Two weddings.
- Grandchildren (including a set of twins)
That is the Cliff notes of the Hall Family. There are of lot of different things going on those 42+ years, however there is one thing that is constant and that is State Farm being our Insurance Provider for everything and almost everyone. Loyalty. Dad’s new career was in insurance, New York Life. Despite working for a competitor, we never left State Farm. As a matter of fact our dad had a chance meeting with Mr. Rust Sr. back in the early eighties. He was at a function downtown Chicago, happen to run into Mr. Rust, told him how great our agent was. Told him that he was working for a competitor, but we still had our polices with State Farm. I believe Mr. Rust thanked my dad, and jokingly told him “that when he wanted to work for a real insurance company to let him know”. In 2017 I know that brand loyalty is almost non-existent. Those of us who grew up with Baby-Boomer parents understand, that being loyal actually meant something. It’s where I learned it, which was reinforced while I was serving my county in the U.S. Army. About that time is when I was reintroduced to Fleetwood Mac again. This time via CD, helped me get through Basic Training. When a Drill Sergeant is in your face, and you need something to motivate you, I recommend ‘Don’t Stop’ off that 1977 Rumors album. My dad did not stay with the insurance business, after 10 years he had a life moment. His great Uncle passed and he went back home to Arkansas for the funeral. Upon arriving at the funeral he is given the obituary reflecting his uncle’s life. Looking at it, he is amazed at the lack of quality and detail of the obituary. Irritated that this is how his Uncle is going to be remembered, he makes a life decision, from that life moment. He could do a better job than this, especially once he learned how much the family paid. What started off as Graphics Dynamite, has evolved to Inremembrance Printing. No family wants to see us, but they are happy that we provide a crucial service during what is most likely a stressful time. Make no mistake business is business. Sometimes though one just needs to do the right thing. Getting a hug from a grieving mother, who just laid their child to rest is payment enough. Families don’t always have the funds to pay for our services. Is doing the right thing payment enough? Loyalty. Our business makes money from those on the South Side of Chicago. You can’t take money from a community who has been loyal to you and not return that in kind. In February of this year we had a fire at our store. We began the long road to getting back in business. Our first calls after the fire dept and our Funeral Home Owners and was to State Farm. Things initially started off like one thinks it should. Our claims adjuster responded and gave what was the start of many instructions. Will try to give full disclosure here so as to show why we are in our current plight.
Our policy comes down to three main areas
- Equipment Loss
- Income Loss
- Extra Expenses
After waiting for the Equipment Loss paperwork to process, we received our first proposal of $110,000. Keep in mind that is half of what our Printing Presses cost, not to mention all the other equipment in the store. Receiving more instructions from our Claim Adjuster we submitted more information and received another proposal that was more in line with replacing our equipment. Once we received our check for the equipment loss, we were told we would receive Income loss until our place was ready for us to move back in. The time allotted is up to 12 months or a reasonable amount of time for the rebuild. The last part is very important. Originally we were told we had until June for the restoration period. That seemed a little quick, but our claims adjuster informed us that it was a very reasonable amount of time. This is when things start to go downhill, our landlord does not get his check from State Farm until June, how do you complete a rebuild if you don’t have the funds? So State Farm did a very reasonable thing, they extended that period of income loss until October. So let’s do some quick math. You are told you will receive a check every month from February to October. We took what looked like the average of what we would be getting and came up with $270,000. We felt with the equipment loss and the income loss should be enough to get us back in business. However our monthly income loss checks came sporadically at best. Let’s just say during that eight month period, we had two windows of sixty plus days where there was no loss of income payments. Now to be fair we did eventually receive the funds. That last window though was closer to 3 ½ months of no funds, which was really tough, but we would have been fine. “Would have been”, because during that period of time State Farm worked on some new numbers, which we were aware of. We were told by State Farm that these new number were to ensure that we were receiving all were entitled, which could be even more than we were receiving currently. So the first four months averaged 33,000 per month, after the new numbers it went down to 19,000, an addition they retroactively deducted from the pervious for months. This whole time we are operating with not only our same expenses, but we are taking a loss every month because we have to outsource our print jobs. During that 3 ½ month period not once did State imply, inform, or communicate that this was going to happen. So instead of receiving what we had added up back in February we received 100,000 less than we had anticipated. Also this just happens to all go down in October, remember that month. It is when our shop should be ready, well it isn’t. Actually not much work had been done at all really. The fire debris has been removed and the place has been cleaned. Why is the Landlord trying to screw us? Well he is not, in fact we have kept him in the loop for almost every step of the process since February. He is more than a little worried that we have not received our funds, particularly the last 3 ½ months. He knew that we were relying on these funds to help move back in and for operating expenses for the first few months until business traffic was back to or coming back to normal. I believe that it is very reasonable for our landlord to hold off on the custom rebuild, until he was certain that we would actually be able to fulfill the terms of a new lease. However, even if he did not have that space available he was willing to give a temporary space next door. He actually asked the pastor of the church next door if she was willing to move her public aid office so that we would have a place to move. Which should have happened. Except when we reached out to State Farm, we were informed that the $100,000 shortage was accurate, despite no communication from them during that almost four month time period. In addition to the short we also were informed that State Farm will not continue the income loss past October. So to quickly recap, February we are told we will get an income loss check once a month, which did not happen. Based off the first four months of funds received, we had no reason to believe that the next four months would be less. In fact we were told that it could be more. We were never informed in any way that our income loss would end in October. Our landlord did not think that is was reasonable to continue with a rebuild if it were possible that we would not be able to move back. Not receiving any communications from State Farm, or funds for 3 ½ months. During our eight month period we took a loss of about 10,000 per month, numbers that State Farm was aware of, since we have to provide financials every month.
What is Loyalty? My dad, his last ten or so years in business started to get like everyone else is today. Caring less about brand loyalty, because the brand often shows little to no loyalty to the customer. Despite that I can say and show there were three things that he never wavered from,
Datsun/Nissan, those 14 cars, 12 of them have been Nissans.
Spam, every Sunday, the one day he took off work he would have Spam and crackers.