What a GREAT Girl
When Dorothy Green needed to contact her insurance company, she encountered the sort of frustration familiar to millions.
|One-gran demo: Mrs Green with her placardDozens of phonecallsfollowed over several days, during which she was kept on hold for a total of three hours, but got nowhere.|
When others might have given up in despair, this 79-year-old grandmother refused to surrender to faceless bureaucracy.
The retired primary school teacher, who has just lost her husband to cancer, wanted to know why the £56,400 value of her life insurance policy had been halved.
Despite being 'very frightened', she travelled 130 miles in the snow from her home in Peterborough to the York office of Norwich Union chief executive Mark Hodges.
Staff refused to let her speak to the boss but, undaunted, Mrs Green returned three days later, only to be arrested after police were called.
Mrs Green spent several hours in a cell, but the next day she pressed on with her battle. After again being told Mr Hodges would not see her, she reported him to police - as a missing person.
In the end, bosses at the insurance giant decided they could ignore her no longer and promised to honour their original settlement. Mrs Green said they told her it was a 'misunderstanding'.
Her story has echoes of the 1989 film Roger and Me in which maverick director Michael Moore relentlessly pursues General Motors boss Roger Smith who closed the plant in his hometown.
Mrs Green was sold a life insurance plan in 1994, guaranteeing a payout of £56,400 when she died.
But over the past six years, Norwich Union has reduced this to £26,000, she said. A letter last month saying the new sum would be introduced unless her premiums soared left her 'shaking' with anger.
After drawing a blank with her phone calls, Mrs Green made her first visit by train to York on January 30, spending several hours in the offices.
She said staff initially claimed Mr Hodges was on holiday for a month and later that he was 'in a meeting'. Distressed, she returned home, only to return three days later. This time, the reception desk called the police.
'I was taken away in a car in a police cage,' said the pensioner. 'They didn't treat me badly, I just talked to a doctor to see if I was loopy. They decided I wasn't.'
She was released without charge and stayed the night in a hotel. 'The next day I went back to the offices one last time to ask if I could see Mr Hodges, but I never did.'
During this final visit, she posed outside the office with a placard around her neck reading 'Dorothy Jean Green' in a desperate attempt to attract attention.
Tragically, the day after her return home her husband Paul died.
However, Mrs Green now has the peace of mind of knowing the full amount of her policy will go to her four grandchildren on her death.
'But it has taken nearly six years of worrying, two-and-a-half days in York, six hours on the telephone and sitting in a police cage,' she said.
'I just wanted to ask Mr Hodges why they kept asking for more money and trying to reduce the payout. It's not really about the money. I think something should be done to make things fairer. I have asked Norwich Union to come to my husband's funeral as a goodwill gesture.'
A spokesman for the insurer said: 'A director has spoken directly with Mrs Green and resolved her complaint.'