Obviously everything has changed since I last posted here. Unless you’ve been in a cave you have a good idea of what is happening in the Gulf and if you did just come out of hiding or hibernation, read the front page of this site for a little while and you’ll get caught up.
In a nutshell: A BP leased oil rig blew up and two months later is still fouling the Gulf with millions of gallons of crude oil.
When the fishery closure moved far enough to the east to put our own fishing business, which mostly targets deep water grouper, on the skids, we decided to jump on the “free money” bandwagon and file a claim with the BP Claims Office. When we went in and told them we wanted to be paid the value of our IFQ allotment, which a month earlier had a very real value and now has virtually none, they looked at us like we were speaking Cantonese. We spent a couple of hours with the claims adjuster we’d been assigned and after the first fifteen minutes he called in the manager of this claims office who agreed with the adjuster that he had never heard about what we were telling them but it certainly sounded to them like we had a very legitimate claim.
So far so good.
They submitted the claim, which got pushed up to the “Large Claims” division because it was for quite a bit more than the $5000 ceiling for a small claim. The Large Claims adjuster assigned to the case knew as little as the locally deployed adjusters did and after a few days of being brought up to speed he started asking for more paperwork to substantiate the claim. We were (easily) able to supply all the paperwork and verification he wanted and were told we were well on our way to getting approved.
Note: That’s “approved” not “paid”.
A bit more than a week ago we were told we had indeed been approved. The large claims adjuster guy spent quite some time patting himself on the back for “getting this done for you” and told us we would be receiving a check quite soon.
We called to check and spent a few days in “oh, we’ll have him call you back” hell, at one point actually being told “he is in a room with no phones, we can’t call him and will just walk over there and tell him to call you”. My wife, who has a bit more time and a lot more patience than I’ve had lately, has spoken to these people almost daily for well over a week. I have actually spoken to the local people more than the remote “large claims division” (which I have a vague idea is in Houston but that could be very wrong) but I have spoken to our Big Claims adjuster twice. The first was a few days ago when, after hearing for ten minutes how successful the guy had been in getting our claim approved (which as it is a legitimate claim I’m not all that impressed by) I finally said “You know, this is all well and good but with all due respect you have yet to do a single thing that has actually benefited me one little tiny bit.” More apologies, more “we’re working on it and it is a top priority”…
My wife spoke to Houston We Have A Problem again today. To my amazement they told her to go to the local claims office and speak to the office manager and have him write us a check for $2500 to cover the overdue bills and BP would take care of the bookkeeping and deduct that from a future payment. Yeah right. You can’t get past the cop at the door of the claims center without an appointment. You can’t get an appointment without a new claim number. Round and round in circles we go. Even if I were willing to pursue this avenue of evasion (which I’m not) we still would eventually get nowhere and end up in the same place we are now.
So I call the number we’ve now got for the Large Claims adjuster feller. My wife has tried it four times today with either no luck (busy signal) or other no luck (voice mail that NEVER gets returned). Amazingly my call went through immediately and the guy answered. When he found out who I was, the hemming and hawing began anew.
“Umm, err, well, yes, we are working to get you paid as soon as possible.”
Me: “When does that mean?”
“Umm, err, well, yes, as soon as I can get them to write the check”
Me: “What’s the hold-up?”
“Umm, err, we,, yes, I’m not sure, it is pretty much out of my hands but you have been approved and you will be paid.”
“Umm, err, well, yes, I’m doing everything in my power to make it happen for you”
Me: “That would make me fell much better if it weren’t the exact same thing you told me last week”
Continue on in this vein for a few more minutes….then:
Me: “OK, well give me the number of the next guy up the line”
“Umm, err, well, yes, well that would be a different department.”
Me: “OK, well give me the number of that department”
“Umm, err, well, yes, well, I just have to give them your phone number and have them call you back”
Me: “When will that happen?”
“Umm, err, well, yes, err just as soon as is possible.”
Me: “When does that mean”
“Umm, err, well, yes, we are trying to figure out how to get you a check”
Me: “What does that mean?”
Are you seeing a pattern developing here?…I was.
Finally I tell the guy….”Look, BP has promised the people of the US and the Gulf Coast that they will pay all legitimate claims…they aren’t. BP has promised Congress they won’t hold up people’s payments while people’s lives are being negatively impacted by this mess….they are. BP has promised President Obama they won’t nickel and dime the people of the Gulf Coast to death…but that is exactly what they are doing right here right now.”
The guy says; “Umm, err, well, yes, I can see what you mean and I assure you I will move this up right away and someone will contact you to let you know when and how BP will be able to pay this claim”
BP so far has one huge, and growing, mess and an awful lot of empty promises from where I stand.