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STORY : Charles Seiverd EMAIL :
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Rick and Beth Heenan at the Village Baker
Conservatizing the Catsup
Washington, July 19th — Republicans unnerved by the liberal leanings of Heinz tomato ketchup and the thought that their condiment dollars may be used to finance the John Kerry Presidential Campaign, may now take solace in the alternative to the 57 varieties. Newly announced
for the “freedom fry” fiend is “W Ketchup,” a tomato paste promising to be “100% patriotic, 100% American.”
With a glowing memorial to Ronald Regan, who once proclaimed that, yes, ketchup can be counted as a vegetable, the company’s website is hardly indirect: “You don’t support Democrats. Why should your ketchup? ... W Ketchup is made in America, from ingredients grown in the USA. The leading competitor not only has 57 varieties, but has 57 foreign factories as well. W Ketchup comes in one flavor: American.”
The idea spawned a few
months ago when several GOP
members were sitting around, barbecuing in upstate New York,
and realized they had but one choice if they wanted to finish their burgers. Making the link between Heinz and Theresa Heinz-Kerry — the heiress to the ketchup fortune and major contributor to the Kerry campaign — the band decided it was time for action. After all, a long, hot, conservative tomato- deprived summer was on its way, and it was time to wrestle some of the profits out of an American, albeit left, institution. So the band banded together, became investors, began shipping tomatoes from California and processing them in the Midwest, using a recipe “uniquely American.”
In actuality, however, Heinz Corporation gave more money to GOP candidates in the last six years than it did Democrats, by a ratio of 4:1, donating $64,000 to the cause of the elephant. Theresa Heinz- Kerry’s stake in the ketchup fortune is only 4%, but as Limbaugh listeners are ready to point out, that equals close to $500 million.
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introduced to Beth and Rick Heenan, two industrious local bread makers who had seen their business blow up, literally, when a faulty oven exploded, almost seriously injuring their head baker one night. Luckily, they thought, they had bought an insurance policy that would protect them from calamities like this. Unfortunately, that was not the case. They were in for a rude awakening on how insurance companies are oft to treat their clients.
Over the course of several weeks, they tried in vain to settle with their insurance company — or at least get what had been promised them when they signed on to what seemed at the time, a reliable policy. Each month, they had paid their premiums on time, all the time. And now, when they needed it most, their insurance company was attending to them as if they had done something wrong.
Without an oven, Rick and Beth were in a critical situation. Their wholesale customers were dropping like flies, they still needed to pay the salaries of their employees, and they needed to make a big purchase really quickly if they were going to stay in business. They took out loans, they maxed their credit cards out, they borrowed money from relatives — all to buy another hearthstone oven that was capable of maintaining the quality of the artisan breads their customers had come to enjoy. The price tag: $43,000. But the brand new Zucchelli Forni still needed to be shipped, by boat, from Italy. The waiting time: another three weeks.
Meanwhile, their insurance adjustor was playing games. He would come in, act as if best friends, talk to them about his personal life, and re-assure them that the whole thing would be resolved shortly.
Suddenly, he wouldn’t return their calls without waiting a week or two. Then he told them they needed to rent a hearthstone oven, which was far from possible. Then, he referred them to another company who would “actually” be performing the adjustment.
A company representative contacted for this story, who wished to be unnamed, said this in response to the adjustor’s delay: “Policies are very, very complicated. Lawyers and insurance companies have been in business for hundreds of years trying to determine what is and isn’t in a policy.”
But unbeknownst to the Heenans,their insurance company was going through a massive overhaul. The company had opted to be re-insured, essentially selling off their liabilities to another company. The new company, investigated later, had changed their name and corporate headquarters twice within the past three years and had itself filed for “credit for reinsurance” under the financial code of 20 states. The company representative did not wish to comment on the findings.
“The whole system is set up in their favor. Always, always,” said Beth as she described the ordeal. The insurance company would drag their feet, consistently waiting until the last day of a deadline to respond, making things incredibly difficult for the Heenans to get back on their feet. “It’s so manipulative. There’s nothing honest. There’s nothing just straightforward. It’s just so frustrating.”
The oven eventually arrived, and it was onto the task of installing it, a painstaking chore that called for a professional to be flown in. Several accommodations to the storefront had to be made as well — such as lying a foundation for the oven and
installing vents in the roof — and the cost out of pocket was becoming exorbitant. But still no word from their insurance company as to when they might settle. The Heenans were losing patience just about as quickly as they were running out of credit. They were told to hire an attorney if anything was going to happen in a timely manner.
Rick and Beth took the advice and did the only thing they knew how: open up shop again and start baking. Even just four months after the incident, it was a struggle running around, reassuring past clients who had suddenly been cut off from the freshest variety of bread in town. Getting out the word to walk-in customers was even more difficult, as they had to sink every dollar into payroll and inventory, in lieu of advertising.
Weeks passed. Their lawyer was on the case. A glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon: the insurance company was finally going to reimburse the Heenans for the oven, albeit six months after originally filing the claim. But, as for the remaining $90,000 still outstanding in lost business, wages, and installation expenses, the Heenans were again swimming in debt, although maybe slightly shallower water.
Today, nearly a year and a half after the fact, the Heenans have finally accepted a settlement from the company that avoided all to pay up what their policy said would cover, and the amount still remains to be about $40,000 less than what the Heenans put themselves in debt to stay in business. But they are done.
Says Beth, relieved after receiving the call from her lawyer earlier in the week: “Our souls are still intact. We can look ourselves in the mirror every day. We don’t want to fight anyone anymore. But we are still checking the fine print.” <N>
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Arizona Annoyances & Contents
(JULY 2004)
10 • JULY 2017 | the NOISE arts & news |

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