Previous posts have gone in-depth into the means that some companies use to go after annuitants, but scant attention has been paid to what the annuitants themselves have to say. As you can imagine, few have many nice things to contribute given the lengths that are taken to try and extract money out of them. They generally feel angry, bitter, and helpless.
Frequently, annuitants who have provided testimonials ask: “Why don’t they stop contacting me?” especially since every single one of them has demanded contact stop. Some know that the harassment is illegal and approach it in this way: “Why do they break the law?” they ask; just for potential profit? “Do they not know what we/I have gone through?” Others aren’t aware of the illegality of it, but still get the feeling that something’s wrong. They know they shouldn’t feel harassed and want contact to cease – they just aren’t aware of how to do it or why it started to begin with. We in the industry do know why; we know it simply comes down to money, and we know it started because they aren’t perceived as victims who are being further victimized by constant and unwanted contact, but clients who contribute to the bottom line. In other words, these people have been reduced to profit margins. But why does this matter? Businesses must turn a profit – and of course, no one disagrees with this, not even the annuitants. One annuitant who provided a testimonial, a salesman himself, commented (at length) that the tactics are – using a creative use of expletives – ultimately amateurish. He dealt with the harassment by threatening, consistently, to sue the offending companies. Thankfully, he was left alone after resorting to this tactic, though it is unfortunate that he had to resort to it in the first place. Anyone who must resort to illegitimate means for their profits clearly isn’t secure enough in their legitimate business to play fair.
Listed below are a variety select quotes from annuitants that raise important issues in and of themselves. Beyond the singular quote listed, please note that these experiences are far from unique. Nearly all of the annuitants that spoke echoed similar feelings.
- “We’ve gotten to the point, if a woman says ‘no’ it means ‘no.’ When a customer means ‘no’, it means ‘no.’ I keep saying ‘no’, so it means ‘no.’ These companies should lay off. I shouldn’t have to defend himself after I say no. I shouldn’t be constantly harassed.”
- “It’s like they don’t even do their research; they just keep calling and calling and won’t leave you alone. There’s not even any money left! They just don’t let up, even when there’s nothing left.”
- “Basically, once I’ve asked these people to stop calling… it should be something that’s honored. They shouldn’t keep calling. But they don’t. Thirty days roll around, oftentimes, and the same people call. It should stop the moment I say I doesn’t want the phone calls and services. Checks in the mail could really hurt me if I didn’t shred all the checks I gets per day. This is already hard because I’m disabled. I doesn’t see why this should be public knowledge…”
- “It’s very annoying. It’s very frustrating to get these calls ALL THE TIME. I’ve also got a cell phone, and they suck up my minutes constantly. I just ignores Florida calls now.”
- “If [Congress] can pass a law to keep this from happening, this is great. It shouldn’t be public record to begin with. This is a private matter and companies shouldn’t keep calling; they should respect that if you didn’t choose their company they should bow out gracefully.”
- “It’s a case of privacy… and it’s completely stolen. They know everything. They know the financial records. It’s wrong. I’m constantly harassed and they think it’s their right to come and get my money from me. They just don’t take no for an answer.”
These stories go on and on, but for sake of brevity, we’ll cut them off there. There are a few other stories that aren’t quotable due to the highly emotional – and therefore somewhat difficult to transcribe – nature of the conversations, but here are summaries of two:
An annuitant’s father, the primary caregiver for an otherwise troubled son, and the annuitant’s sister, both receive contact on the annuitant’s behalf. On two occasions this went above and beyond the typical means. For the father, an entire packet of information was taped to the front door of his home when he wouldn’t answer the door. For the sister, a medical professional, a representative went to her place of business to get a hold of her, and through her, the annuitant. The family’s response to this unwanted contact was unanimous dismay and disbelief; they didn’t anticipate that level of harassment.
Another annuitant, partially disabled in mind and body as a result of the incident which resulted in her structured settlement, receives calls around each meal of the day. Answering every phone call is difficult due to her disabilities, and having to go and answer the phone so frequently, dreading that it may just be another unwanted call, is overwhelming. It’s a constant stress and source of anxiety which negatively affects her more than the average person as a result of the existing neurological disabilities. Each phone call and subsequent argument to stop causes stress that she not only shouldn’t have to deal with, but can’t. She, like so many others, desperately try to screen calls to try and prevent the endless stream of contact. There is no good reason why this annuitant, her family, or any others should have to be subjected to this torment.
So what can we, as an industry, do about it? What should we do about it? This will be examined in detail in the next post.