Saturday, 5 May 2012

Saturday Story Time – Heavy Metal

We weren’t expecting anyone at that time up on the 10th floor of the Executive Building in Edmonton.  When the buzzer went off, I checked the appointment book, and asked my boss if he was expecting anyone.  Where I would normally see a face in the window of our security door, there was a leather vest, and the ends of a long head of hair.

When asked why he was there, this fella’ explained that his insurance company had sent him for an estimate.  Most people called for an appointment but this big scary-looking biker-dude had not.  We let him in and I worked with him to estimate the length, weight and karat of a chain he lost while in a motor vehicle accident.  The chain he compared it to was a curb-link about 24” long and weighed maybe 25 grams.  In the crash, a segment of the chain was found and he would subsequently bring it in so that we could confirm the details.

The lesson to be learned is that client descriptions; particularly when describing lost items is sketchy at best.  I always tried to take that into account when working with insurance claimants.  Whether it’s and insurance claim or a client looking for something specific; take this advice:  SHOW THEM STUFF.  Show them piece after piece and let them say, “no, it’s wider than this,” or “it’s twisty like this except a little higher.”  Seeing is believing.  The client will try to verbally explain, but be quick to move to three-dimensional jewellery in order to refine client descriptions.

When my biker-dude returned a few days later, he showed me a section of fine box-link chain that would have weighed less than a quarter of what he had described to me previously.  I didn’t know what to say, but I did revise my quote to the insurance company, and received no grief for doing so. 

No matter what the fella’ looked like, I assumed that he was embellishing his insurance claim.  His willingness to show me the actual piece of the original chain and his equanimity at my revised estimate made me think that he had little ability to recall details about his original jewellery.  Maybe there are just some people who “can’t picture it” until it’s in front of their face.

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