Oh dear, MORE TH>N, I’m afraid you’re much more than a disappointment these days

Of all the financial services brands I’ve had a hand in launching, none engaged me more than MORE TH>N.  It was partly because we had an inspirational client, the legendary Mike Tildesley.  It was partly because we had the biggest, most exciting and at the time most important of the agency remits available, brand advertising (remember Lucky the dog?).  But it was also because, within the mainstream of the general insurance market, I did actually believe that MORE TH>N intended to be a bit special, a bit different, a bit better.

How stupid.  For all the About Us rubbish on the website (for example, “It takes thousands of dedicated and talented employees around the UK to deliver the excellence of service and products our customers demand and expect”. – there’s loads more at www.morethan.com/aboutus) these days it’s just another grotty general insurance business, delivering rubbish service with the one hand and ripping off its loyal customers with extortionate premium increases with the other.

I had to speak to them on the phone to renew my travel insurance recently.  I wrote about this a few blogs back:  it took four calls and a total waiting time of nearly 100 minutes before I actually got to speak to someone. (I only had to give them a new credit card number and ask for a couple of minor policy changes – why the hell I can’t do this online I have no idea.)

After my 100-minute wait, I wasn’t very pleased to hear that with the minor changes, my premium would be going up from £302 to £684.   I did a bit of shopping around (the new business lines almost always answer nice and quickly) and found AVIVA quoting me a great deal less than MORE TH>N – £320, to be exact.  Not a difficult decision, really.

Out of touching and clearly misplaced loyalty to what was then a client, I also had my motor, building and contents insurance with MORE TH>N too.  Motor went a long time ago, for exactly the same reasons – shocking call waiting times and extortionate premium increases.  The buildings and contents I still have, but only till the next renewal – I know I’m being ripped off, and I don’t like it.

In all of this, I don’t suppose MORE TH>N is more than averagely useless and untrustworthy – I have no great faith in AVIVA, for example, beyond the point that over the coming 12 months they’ll save me £360 on my travel cover.

It’s just that my expectations were that little bit higher – partly because of my personal experience with the business in the early days, but also a little bit, I mist admit, because of that rubbish on the website.

Here’s another sample:  “The MORE TH>N brand is grounded in the values of modernity, individuality, perspective, purposefulness, clarity and integrity. It’s underpinned by the desire to go the extra mile for the customer, deliver more than words and treat customers as individuals.”  Absolute bollocks, every word of it.  Unless you have personal experience to confirm it, you still can’t believe anything that any financial services provider says to you.

A large portion of humble pie, please. With birthday candles on top.

A couple of blogs ago, I wrote a rather cynical piece about the likelihood (or more accurately, unlikelihood) of any of my household’s financial services providers demonstrating the personal nature of their relationship with us by doing anything to mark the big birthday my wife had yesterday.

I was wrong.  Among the inflow of packs, boxes, cards flowers and suchlike came an extremely agreeable box of very high quality chocolates, complete with card, from one of the firms we have a relationship with.  Judy and I are both duly grateful and impressed, and obviously humble pie is in order for me as a penance for my excessive cynicism.

The trouble with this damned cynicism, though, is that it’s awfully hard to get rid of.  I wrote the original blog on June 25th, and I couldn’t help noticing from the delivery note, enclosed with the chocolates, that the order was placed on June 27th.  It would be wrong to draw any conclusions from this, but I am just saying…