Mr Benn has been in touch because he wants a right of reply to an article I wrote about my horse insurance.
Yes, I am aware that sentence makes no sense, but this is the world we live in. You may remember I was surprised to receive my insurance documents for Darcy the thoroughbred with a covering letter from the 1970s children’s TV character.
For reasons I could not make out, my insurers had gone from being a reassuringly serious-looking outfit called Equine and Livestock to being called the Insurance Emporium in big loopy letters with a logo that was a bowler-hatted, waving Mr Benn.
All things considered, the incongruity seemed fair game. So I cracked a few jokes about it in the pursuit of happiness.
And now the company has been in touch to explain itself in a lengthy, serious and extremely detailed three-page letter.
I cannot reproduce the response of the Customer Experience Manager word for word here as it would take up all of this page and several others.
This chap tells me his firm wants to ‘maintain an amicable relationship’ with me — so you can imagine.
On balance, even if there was room, I would refuse to burden you with an insurance firm’s full explanation of why they have branded themselves with a picture of Mr Benn.
However, in the interests of even-handedness, here are the edited highlights of its statement. Also, I do quite want you to see what I have to put up with every time I crack a joke:
‘Dear Ms Kite, I write to you following the publication of your article… The Insurance Emporium is the fresh face of E&L and a new way for you to protect the things you love. We know that people’s interests and hobbies are eclectic, so we wanted to offer flexible insurance that reflects that and offers freedom and ease to our customers.
‘In your article, you stated that you have reservations over our brand image and marketing literature, and you also questioned why we used Mr Benn as our figurehead. In your opinion his inclusion in our communication lacked professionalism.’ I think the way I put it was better, with jokes about lion costumes and the shopkeeper appearing as if by magic, but anyway: ‘It’s clear from your communication with our advisers that you have memories of Mr Benn.’ Well, I was being ironic about growing old and remembering the 1970s. But all right, have it your way. I insulted your marketing.
‘The reason we chose him as our brand ambassador is because his adventures reflect the spirit of our customers and the benefits that our insurance offers. The message here is that he (like our customers) can go on his adventures with reassurance that The Insurance Emporium are there to protect the things he loves, should the unexpected happen.’
You know what? I just don’t think there is any way this guy can make the link between horse insurance and Mr Benn, no matter how long this letter goes on.
‘Owning a horse is certainly a remarkable adventure…’ I would say owning a horse is certainly a remarkable expense. But let’s not split hairs, or the Hair Emporium will write to complain.
‘…and we want our customers to cherish the things they’re passionate about as much as Mr Benn does.’
I’m starting to wonder whether the Customer Experience Manager believes Mr Benn is a real person. It all hangs on his age, and whether he was around in the 1970s. If not, one explanation for the seriousness of his tone could be that he doesn’t know Mr Benn is fictional.
He goes on to explain that his firm is highly rated and won insurer of the year at the Yorkshire Financial Awards, before concluding: ‘However, when reviewing your current journey with The Insurance Emporium we can certainly appreciate that there have been setbacks…’
Ah now, I need to stop him right there, because I have not been nor am I on a journey with any insurance firm. I know most people like to be on a journey with everyone and everything these days but I’m adamant that the only journeys I go on are actual moving journeys in cars or on trains. I won’t do metaphorical journeys. Sorry.
But I need to cut to the end. Because at the end of the letter, he offers me a discount on my premium.
See, I never asked for a discount. I never angle to get cheap or free stuff. I get my kicks purely from poking fun at bureaucracy.
The discount is kind, but I want to make clear that I am happy to pay the full amount once they’ve read this and realised that I am not going to stop making jokes for however long jokes remain legal.
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