It used to be that loyalty meant something to some businesses. Some industries even tout loyalty and advertise they will give you huge discounts when you are loyal to them. I have found the secret to demanding the loyalty you deserve from businesses for the loyalty you have given them.

Out of the thousands of wars I’ve had in my lifetime with companies that have taken my hard-earned money I thought I would have to dig far to find the best example of one. Searching for examples of horrible service only takes opening the mail and looking at the next bill.

Just this week we got a threat of going to collections notice in the mail from our home/auto insurer. Nothing gets my blood boiling worse than getting an un-deserved late payment notice. So I peel back the story to find we not only did not get a bill but after we had cancelled our service with _____ (Oh I SOOO want to put the name of this awful, horrid, worst in the world insurance company – but I will resist) they had given us a small refund for the service we had cancelled earlier. How are we now getting a collections notice?

I used to think if you stayed with an insurance company your rates would perpetually go down year after year because of loyalty. The commercials tell you about these great discounts you’ll get for loyalty and good driving records.

NOT!  Monkey tongue

There is zero reason in today’s insurance world to stick with any insurance company due to loyalty. Matter of fact, many of the insurers play the bait and switch routine on new customers. They lure you in with a great quote upfront, then raise the rates at the first opportunity.   While I used to think you should not shop around and ever change insurers, that rule of thumb is out the door. Annually when we get our renewal notices, we make a few inquiries to compare the latest rates and will switch if finding a minimum of 10% decrease. (it is not worth the hassle if just a few points lower).

I go to the online bill portal to try to find where this bill for insurance came from and what did we not pay.   Nothing to be found in the online system. I call the agent and find that we were billed for the new rate for coverage for our teen driver for 45 days.   I said, you mean we were billed for the service that I told you was outrageously high (more than double of any other insurer) which forced us to cancel our service and go elsewhere.   I was already fuming as I had already left several voice mails with the agent and received no return calls and no response to emails either. I finally got through after zeroing out and demanding from the receptionists to let me stay on hold until the ..fine young man could assist me.

I am a professional negotiator. I am a sales professional with 35+ years experience. I know how to talk to people and use every tactic there is to win an argument.   Here is the secret to getting what you rightfully deserve ….. don’t let them destroy your happiness!   You cannot win an argument with someone, some company, some boss, some business where they do not care. Even if you get what you want, if you do it with a tirade of expletives or even nice Christian tones, if it eats you up on the inside you lose every time.

I am lucky if I have come out on the positive in situations like this one with Elstinko insurance company in 20% of the cases. The first question to ask yourself before wasting 10 hours of time (which I did in this case as they sent me to Elstinko’s headquarters to appeal) is it worth the amount of money you have to pay to settle an issue?  Is it worth it to pack up the box of the broken device, find the receipt, wait in line, then have to argue to get a refund?   How much is your time worth?

I use a simple calculator on how much your time is worth:

  • If you make $100,000 a year, there are 50 paid weeks a year. 50/100k = $2K a week.
  • 40 hours in a week/$2k = $50 an hour.
  • So if you make $50k your time is worth $25 an hour, if $200k = $100 an hour.

Money wise, it may be better to scrap the whole problem and just pay it and save yourself the lost time/money value. The collection notice we got was for $184. By the time I got done losing the negotiation with Elstinko’s it added up to about 15 hours of lost time. Not only did I not win the tug of war, it cost me 15 hours of time.

Worst than all of that is a week later, I am still fuming on the inside over the whole ordeal.

Nelson Mandela said upon leaving prison after 27 years of confinement “Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me, I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go.”

The secret to demanding the loyalty, fairness, and just getting even a little respect, is to not let the anger destroy our lives and our character.

I’d love to say, I have this down totally.  But in fact it is a constant war as service and businesses are in don’t care mode.   After all I went through to get that demand payment bill taken care of  I still lost the battle.   I was forced to immediately call another number and paid the bill over the phone. Despite it only being 30 days since we got the first letter, on Saturday we got a letter from a collection agency. Elstinko’s sent our account to collections, even after we paid the bill.   Ahhhhhhhhh!

So, what is the real secret to being able to deal with this unfair world?




One of the hardest lessons taught in the Bible was from a conversation Jesus had with His 12 disciples. I believe the background of the story is they were having arguments with each other over something so important that the issue was not even mentioned. The teaching goes like this and watch the comeback from His pupils for a section in Luke 17:

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!   It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. So watch yourselves!

“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.  Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”

 The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”

 The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!

The Average Joe translation of this section is,

  1. It is guaranteed that not so pleasant things are going to happen all the time, Guaranteed (‘there will always be’).   God is going to take care of the ones causing the trouble for us, eventually. It is not our job to fix the wrongs of the world. It is our job however to have our character become more like that of the One who came to this earth and lived a peace filled, perfect life. The ‘stuff’ that happens builds our character.
  2. It is not our job as Christians to judge the world, it is already judged. Even Jesus said He did not come into the world to judge the world (John 3:17)
  3. It is however at times our job to tell, one on one, to other Christians when they have done something wrong (aka rebuke – which means in a gentle loving way to provide words of correction).   My wife provided a gentle rebuke to me after I calmed down after she heard the conversation on the phone I had with Elstinko Insurance Company. She said, honey, that was really good how you handled that conversation, I remember years ago how you would have cussed them up a storm and slammed the receiver down at the end of the conversation.   You have really grown (lol). But you might want to consider that the person you were talking to probably is paid minimum wage and telling her that the company she works for is a bunch of robbers, liars, and unethical, may have been a bit over the top. Her gentle correction let it be known to me although I’m getting better at these things, I still have ways to go.
  4. Forgiveness is not just once, it is again, and again, and again…   This is NOT for the benefit of the other person alone. It is more for us! Bitterness towards what happens to us, kills our inside spirit.
  5. It is not increased faith that makes us be able to forgive. Jesus said just the tiniest of faith allows us to do anything.   What is needed is our ability to use the tools He has given us to be able to forgive and not let what other people do to us to ruin our PEACE and literally our lives.

Remember the key component to my blog is pursuing peace. It is not easy by any means, but it is a worthwhile pursuit.  Not only for character reasons, but for health reasons as well.    Read this article on ways anger can ruin your health.

2 Tim 1:7 is one of my favorite statements   ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’ I especially love the part that this Spirit that was given to Christians helps deal with internal fear and timidity, giving us power.   It can be misconstrued though when we use that boldness to demand our way and demand that other people do what we think they are supposed to do.  Isn’t it my right?

But just as the disciples were asking for faith thinking that will solve all their problems, we too easily overlook that we were given a Spirit not just of extra power, but of love, and of all things, ‘self-control’.   Ouch, how is that secret being used in your life?

P.S. I share only what I know I know I need to learn to do better, not because I have it down. May it be a motivation the next time you have to pick up the phone or send an email to work out the next problem with Elstinko’s.