OK, I admit it, I am old enough to have Saga bombarding me about holidays,
savings products, financial planning, motor insurance and home insurance.
My first reaction to an event this week was – this could seriously damage
the Saga brand. When you read about my dealings with Saga, I am sure you will
agree that this has the potential to be far more important than its impact upon
a mainstream brand.
This time last year, I took up Saga's offer to insure my flat. I paid the 387.75 premium with my debit card and relaxed in the knowledge that my building and contents were covered for another year.On the 16th November this year, I noticed that Saga had taken 540.76 (my renewal premium) from my current account and on the 17th and 18th, my wife and I had telephone conversations with them about it.
The renewal date is the 4th of December and using my debit card details retained from last year, they had taken the 2009/2010 premium, 23 days early, without giving me the opportunity to decide whether or not to renew.When challenged the first time, they simply apologised and agreed to credit my account with the 540.76 taken. Incidentally, the renewal documentation arrived on the 18th.
There are two issues here. They had processed a renewal that was a 39.5% increase from last year, without discussing it with me and taken the funds early, potentially putting me in an overdraft situation. What worries me, is that this could be a deliberate policy of the company to both improve the cash flow position of the company and, more importantly, to commit 'older people' to inadvertently renewing their policy, which could go unnoticed until it is too late. And at a 39.5% increase in cost too.
To compound the problem, when I put Saga under pressure to explain why they felt they could take the funds, as they had, they said that on the 9th November, they had discussed the renewal with us on the telephone and that we had been happy with it, No such telephone call took place.
I have asked Saga to arrange for the person who says he/she called us on the 9th November to call me again. I am still waiting for the call and the refund.
Please warn your parents and your grandparents that Saga may not be all that it claims or seems.
It is a brand manager's nightmare though – isn't it?