Dan Rattiner's Stories

How Much Snow? Weather Apps Gone Wild

Saturday morning was Valentine’s Day, and after exchanging gifts we remembered hearing that more snow would be coming to the East End beginning around one.

But how much? The weather app that comes with the iPhone doesn’t give accumulation totals, so I went to one of the other weather apps I have to try to find out. First one I saw was the Weather Channel app, the weather service that dominated forecasting on our TVs with disaster videos during the 1990s but which has been much humbled since apps took over weather forecasting on cell phones. I thought I’d give it a try.

When I hit Weather Channel app, I saw ALERT: BLIZZARD WARNING. And then a little further down I saw an ad that showed a cloud with snow falling around it and, in red, a message that read “DID YOU KNOW: If your car is over 3 years old, insurance companies hope you don’t know this ridiculously easy trick?” I tapped it.

“Welcome to LowerMyBills.com,” it read. There was a cartoon picture of a happy young lady holding a sleeping baby, then below the message “The government is forcing drivers to purchase auto insurance. Drivers who use this trick are able to get their insurance for as low as $9/week. Insurance companies hate the trick because if it got out, it would cost them millions. Don’t get ripped off by your auto insurance company, learn the trick. CONTINUE>>”

I tapped “CONTINUE>>.”

“No Login Required, Compare Rates!” it read. Then it asked me if I wanted state minimum, basic coverage, standard coverage, superior coverage. And it said, “Tap above to get your free results.”

I tapped “superior.”

Any incidents in the last five years? I tapped “no incidents.” Are you currently insured? I tapped yes.

What is your ZIP code? I typed my zip code. Select Vehicle Year. I selected 2008. Select Make. I selected Chevrolet. Select Vehicle Model. I selected Tahoe. Is the vehicle leased? I selected no.

My daily commute is about: I selected 6–10 miles. In a year I travel about: I selected 12,000 miles. My vehicle has airbags. I selected yes. My vehicle has anti-lock brakes: I selected yes. My vehicle’s security system: I selected audible alarm. My vehicle’s overnight parking: I selected garage. I own my own home: I selected yes. I am interested in further savings through bundling my car and home insurance: I selected no. My first name: I typed Badaboom. My last name: I typed Tyler. My date of birth: I typed 01, 01, 1990. My gender: I selected female. My relationships status: I selected single.

I have a valid U. S. Driver’s License: I selected yes. I got my license when I was: I typed 17. My license was suspended or revoked in the last 5 years: I selected no. I need an SR-22/financial responsibility: I selected no. My education: I selected high school. My job: I selected bartender, waitress. My credit: I selected good. My current insurance expires: I selected March 2015. It wanted to know my current insurance company, how long I’d been with them, my desired comprehensive deductible, my desired collision deductible. Then it wanted to know my main address, my telephone number and my email address which was just below, in little tiny print, this message:

“By typing your phone number and email address below you consent to consent to receive autodialed and or pre-recorded calls only from us and/or the providers that are matched to you.”

And it was at this point that I decided that even though I had lied about almost all of this, I had gotten far enough. If I continued, and even if I didn’t continue, they would probably drop a cookie on my iPhone. So I stopped.

“How many inches will we get?” my wife asked.

“I’m looking for a simple trick that insurance companies hate,” I replied.

I’m reporting this to the Weather Channel.

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