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Progressive Clients Tweet Dissatisfaction, Cancel Insurance Over Treatment of Customer

Source: Dow Jones

Posted on 21 Aug 2012 by Neilson

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ProgressiveProgressive Corp. (PGR) didn't just lose a fight with a blogger last week. It also lost customers.

More than 1,000 people on Twitter claimed to have dropped Progressive as their insurer in a four-day span last week, an analysis by social-media tracking firm Crimson Hexagon shows. Another 1,600 or so expressed a desire to not do business with the company, according to the analysis, which was conducted at the request of Dow Jones Newswires.

The dissatisfaction with the company came after a blogger, Matt Fisher, ignited an online firestorm when he complained about the way his family was treated as they sought to collect on his sister's Progressive insurance policy.

The Fisher family sued the other driver in a crash that killed Mr. Fisher's sister, and Mr. Fisher wrote on his blog that he was angry to see a Progressive attorney in the courtroom who was sitting alongside the defendant and arguing that his sister was responsible for the crash.

Mr. Fisher's story went viral almost immediately. Crimson Hexagon, which provides a social-media analysis software platform, tracked 3,325 tweets about the blog post on Aug. 13, the day he posted it. Another 3,827 tweeted about it on Aug. 14. Crimson Hexagon also tracked 846 tweets on Aug. 15 and 558 on Aug. 16.

By the end of the week, Mr. Fisher's complaints about Progressive had also been featured on CNBC, "CBS This Morning" and Glenn Beck's radio show, among other outlets.

Crimson Hexagon said 23% of the tweets were spreading the news about the incident. Another 22% were classified by the analysis as expressing some variation of "Progressive is an awful insurer." The analysis said 19% expressed a desire to disengage with the brand, while 11% claimed the incident had already made them drop Progressive as their insurer.

On Thursday, Progressive said it had reached a settlement with the Fisher family. In a statement, the company said it participated in the trial because there were "credible conflicting eyewitness accounts as to who was at fault" in the car crash.

In response to the Twitter stats, Progressive spokesman Jeff Sibel said: "Our customers' concerns are always a priority and we will continue working to answer any questions they may have."

In the past year, Progressive has added about 56,000 personal-lines policyholders a month on average.