The whole thing seemed simple enough.
Then again, the whole thing involved an insurance company and a bank, so I probably should have known better.
The insurance company has been sending me dividend checks for many years now. Until recently, the company sent me one check at the end of each year. It wasn't a big check, but I always dutifully deposited it.
Earlier this year, the company informed me that instead of one check, it would be sending me four smaller checks each year, all adding up to the amount I used to get at the end of the year.
Oh, great, I thought -- now I have to find the time to schlep four checks to the bank.
One of the checks arrived some weeks ago, along with a note saying that I could arrange to have future checks direct-deposited into my account.
That was fine with me -- my payroll checks have been direct-deposited for years.
So I sent off the necessary paperwork, including my bank account number and the bank's routing number.
Last week I got a letter from the insurance company.
It said the direct deposit arrangement did not go through because of an error. It said my account either did not exist, or the company couldn't find it. It said I could complete an enclosed form with the "correct" information and start the process all over again.
Devout paranoid that I am, I immediately phoned the bank. Yes, they said, my account does exist. Yes, they said, the account number and the routing number I gave the insurance company are the correct ones.
So, I asked, what went wrong?
Ask the insurance company, they said.
The rep from the insurance company said that the account number and routing number, which the bank had just told me were correct, were indeed the numbers that the insurance company had on file for me.
So, I asked, what went wrong?
The rep's response (and do I really have to tell you this?): Ask the bank. They must have rejected the direct deposit application. In the meantime, we'll send it through again.
I called the bank, which denied rejecting the request and said they had no record of such a request. They said they'd have no reason to turn it down.
The insurance company said I could check back within "five to seven business days" to see if the second attempt worked.
We're not talking about a huge amount of money here, so I can't say the suspense is killing me.
But I am beginning to wonder whether I should be on the lookout for an insurance company that will indemnify me for the time I waste straightening out stuff like this.
And I've even come up with my own idea for an insurance company -- a business that would actually give you back the time you're forced to waste in so many everyday situations:
The person in front of you at the bookstore cafe who spends five minutes ordering a cup of coffee because he or she wants it just so, while all you want is a bottle of water.
The well-meaning older person in front of you at the store who never seems to realize that the store's cash registers have plenty of change and insist on paying for everything to the last penny, even if it takes five minutes.
People in front of you in line who take out a check and don't even begin to fill it out with information you'd think they already know (the store's name, their name, the date) until the cashier tells them the correct amount.
Better yet: people in front of you who buy a lot of stuff, take out a check, fill it out, then present it to the cashier -- who then opens a mysterious green box that has a list of People We Don't Take Checks From, and guess who's on it and whose purchase now has to be voided, and all 43 items have to be removed from the checkout counter before you can even begin to buy your own stuff?
(Yes, someone like this was in front of me once.)
And this is not to mention the folks at the medical office who, when you arrive right on time for your 2 p.m. appointment, aren't anywhere near ready for you yet because they're still finishing an in-house lunch hour that, from the sounds of it, seems maybe a mite too convivial.
How would my company actually get your wasted time back? Beats me -- I'm just an idea guy. I'll get some techie to do that.
In the meantime, I do have a name and slogan for this can't-miss venture:
Metaphysical Life -- Own a Piece of the Clock.