Sunday, August 03, 2008


There was a time when companies attempted to win our business with superior customer service and high quality products. These days companies just try to win business by selling cheap crap cheaper then anywhere else. Who cares if it breaks right? You can buy more cheap crap later. We are so obsessed with the psychological side of shopping that it doesn't even matter if we buy something we need or if it will last. It is more about the endorphin rush then the product itself.

There are still plenty of companies bucking this trend. Businesses that are carving out niche markets and going head-to-head against Big Box stores and holding their own. As a personal example, my wife and I had our home and car insurance with one of the big banks for years when we lived in Toronto, a large Canadian urban center. When we moved out to the country 3 years ago we went to ensure our new house and the bank wanted to charge us rates that were triple what we were paying in the big city.

I couldn't understand why, since the house we bought cost nearly $80,000 less then our house in the city. I figured it was an error or something. We had been customers for years, both home and auto, and it really seemed like they just didn't want our business.

I eventually figured out they had valued our home at over a million dollars. This had to be a mistake I thought, so another round of phone calls were in order. In the end the bank wouldn't budge, the value of the home was set and the premiums we were going to pay were a reflection of that.

Now I should mention I didn't pay anything close to a million dollars. Hell, I didn't even pay $200,000 for the house. This is rural SW Ontario. This is farming country. Now, if my 2800 square foot house (and more importantly my 75' x 130' lot) was located in Toronto it may just be worth a million bucks, but out here it is worth what I paid for it. The bank still wouldn't budge.

In the end it was clear the big banks were just not used to dealing with rural properties. I spoke to some folks who live in the area and more then one had similar experiences with the "big city banks". Eventually a fishing buddy of my father-in-law told us about a small insurance company that deals exclusively with farm and rural properties. One phone call later I had a quote that was both reasonable and fair, and learned that there are plenty of alternatives to the big banks. If it wasn't for that word of mouth advertising I don't know what we would have done.

Last week a friend pointed me towards the Home Insurance widget from Having access to something like this 3 years ago would have saved me a lot of time, money, and stress. You simply type in the details and you are provided multiple quotes from different insurance companies, and not just the big banks. You can re-calcualte and customize options including the deductable (increasing your deductable is an easy way to save money).

1 comment:

Robert Campbell said...

I'm selling a CORO sapphire flower brooch on eBay that I found at the St Lawrence 'Sunday Market'. I remember you wanted me to tell you about anything I sold on eBay. You were right - its easy.