Insurance provider AAMI has been feeling the heat after a Youtube star took it to task yesterday over an ad that was presented in a format of a bill, prompting some members of the business community to call for clearer invoices.
Comedian Natalie Tran asked the insurer to explain itself on Twitter, sharing an image of a promotion for an insurance upgrade that was addressed to her, but for a vehicle her partner owns.
— natalie tran (@natalietran) August 1, 2017
The letter says, “It’s easy to switch your CTP green slip to AAMI”, and offers a quote for a compulsory third party green slip should the customer wish to switch their insurance, reminding the addressee that they would need to take up the offer before their car registration expires.
However, as Tran pointed out to AAMI on social media, the ad is formatted to look like an invoice, with an “total amount payable” box listing a $728 bill, and she almost paid the amount.
however I was about to pay it because I didn’t think and saw it as a bill. My poor parents get these too. It’s an ugly way to advertise.
— natalie tran (@natalietran) August 1, 2017
In response, a social media representative for AAMI said “we hear you loud and clear”, but not before several others weighed in about the impact of confusing bills in an age of constant email communications.
We hear you loud and clear! We’re following this up for you now, Natalie. – Stacey
— AAMI Insurance (@AAMI) August 1, 2017
Speaking to news.com.au, a spokesperson for AAMI said the message was an offer to potential customers to switch to one of the insurer’s policies, and that it had been approved by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority.
AAMI told SmartCompany it had not heard concerns about the formatting before.
“We have been sending out notices like this for many years as a service to our valued customers. We are not aware of any similar customer complaints received during this time,” a spokesperson said.
However, business owners tell SmartCompany it’s incredibly easy to mix up official bills and documents with promotions or even scams, given the volume of communications they receive each day.
Founder of business management consultancy edgelabs, Simon Spencer, says despite best efforts from his team to create systems to weed out confusing or malicious messages, the only foolproof solution is to “eyeball” everything that comes across his desk each day.
“The problem is if you’re going to really filter things out, the chance is that you actually end up missing something,” Spencer says.
“We’ve tried to put systems in place to filter all these things out, but even these systems get defeated.”
The edgelabs team have tried a number of options, including creating new inboxes for invoices or communications that don’t include the company’s name in hopes of weeding out spam and unsolicited material — but Spencer says unwanted messages were hitting those accounts, almost immediately.
With the small business community on alert for potential scams, and at a time when even big brands like banks and energy companies are having their names misused in scam emails, Spencer says it’s disappointing to hear of businesses like AAMI issuing offers that could be confused as bills.
“I think it’s a case of somewhat misguided marketing. I think all companies have a responsibility to be keeping their invoices really clean and clear,” he says.
One problem with the fight against confusing or malicious messages is that SMEs just don’t have the time to get across the avalanche of invoices they are sent, Spencer says.
Some commentators suggested AAMI should be reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over concerns its promotion could amount to a “billing scam”.
— Cyborg Nick (@nkav) August 1, 2017
However, the AAMI social media team assured customers on Facebook this morning the promotional document was only sent to customers with existing AAMI accounts, and the copy on the letter does explain the ad is an offer.
The invoicing space is an area of focus for the consumer watchdog, with “false billing” the third most widely-reported scam in the country. So far this year, 6,558 reports have been made about potential examples of false billing.
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