Absurdly Driven usually looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Not every company is managing this crisis as it should.
Why, San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently felt forced to limit the amount delivery apps like UberEats, Postmates and GrubHub could charge restaurants.
Somehow, these delivery apps didn't instantly leap to reducing the 30 percent commissions they charge devastated restaurants, so the mayor had to instruct them that 15 percent was quite enough.
I was especially moved, therefore, by the actions of an industry that's trying to as if it's being kind. The auto insurers.
With shelter-in-place orders dominating the U.S., people simply aren't driving as much.
So, instead of profiting (too much) from the fact that there'll be fewer accidents and therefore fewer claims, auto insurance companies such as State Farm, Progressive and Allstate are giving customers a refund.
Unlike, say, governmental small business loans customers are asked to do nothing. They may get an average 25 percent discount.
Of course it's the right thing to do. And of course it'll take finely-tuned accountants to see how much profit these companies still might be making during this time.
Still, it's clear this isn't pure generosity. It isn't something for nothing. First, the auto insurers are using this gesture to reinforce their brand values.
State Farm, for example, is using the legendary agent Jake (from State Farm), as well as other agents, to express the message from their homes.
Clearly, it echoes the essence of being a good neighbor, State Farm's longstanding promise.
Progressive has taken things further, in some senses. It's created a program that commits $1 billion not only to customers, but to employees, communities and even its agents.
The voiceover there is Progressive's CEO Tricia Griffith.
When you consider some large companies are swiftly claiming their bailouts, while not necessarily being proactive toward customers -- United Airlines is but one example -- there's something hugely intelligent about auto insurance companies' approach.
I wanted to think them heroic. Or, at least, paragons of decency.
Then again, I stumbled upon a report from the Consumer Federation of America. This places a slightly darker tone on the picture of auto insurers' apparent generosity.
It gives State Farm -- and American Family -- an A grade for their proactive stances.
Then again, it gives Warren Buffett's GEICO a D-. The CFA's view is scathing:
GEICO, which has promised over $2 billion in relief is requiring customers to renew their policies before seeing savings, so only those renewing over the next two months, about one-third of GEICO's policyholders, will see any savings during the Stay at Home orders currently in effect.
That does seem less than magnanimous. Moreover, the CSA noted that around 18 percent of auto insurers have offered no refunds at all.
Too often already, consumers believe some insurance companies will do anything not to pay out when there's a claim. I'm worried, therefore, that some of these companies may be trying to do some good in order to mask other areas of their business where they may not show as much generosity.
Why, world-renowned chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry is currently suing his insurance company -- Hartford Fire -- claiming it should be covering coronavirus losses his restaurants have sustained.
I am suing my insurance company, the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, because right now, when we need them, they won't help us.
Hartford is helpfully offering its auto insurance customers a 15 percent refund. (A C+ from the CSA.)
However, currently on Hartford's website is this:
We're Here to Help People Achieve Amazing Things.
Be careful with those promises if you're not willing to keep them when you're most needed.