Over at LewRockwell.com, Charles Goyette makes an interesting point in the wake of the passenger that was thrown off a United Airlines plane:
Nobody books a flight and pays for it and is then told by the airline that it will honor the ticket only when it deems it convenient. But that is the practical effect of the “contract of carriage” fine print.But I have always thought of all this legalese as a corporation saying:
Most of the commentary reasonably objects to the bloody treatment of the passenger, but otherwise it too often defends the airline’s right — not its judgment in doing so, but its right – to unilaterally rescind the purchase and bump its passenger. Some explain in needless detail all the reasons that airlines overbook flights. Those reasons are compelling for airlines, but they are a needless and irrelevant sidebar...
But the issue that goes mostly unaddressed in the many defenses of United’s contractual rights is one of casuistry: the clever use of lawyerly reasoning or the exceedingly fine print of legal language and contractual minutiae to subvert the plain meaning of the purchase of a seat on an airline, a new home, or anything else.
Nobody here is arguing against a close reading of terms and contracts in complex business deals and agreements. But must we go through the principal activities of our daily lives — shopping, traveling, and all the rest – needing to have a lawyer on speed dial or Black’s Law Dictionary in our hip pockets? Have you read the fine print that goes with your brokerage account? Have your assets – which you plainly think are yours – actually been pledged, repledged, hypothecated, or re-hypothecated by the brokerage house? When you clicked “Yes” in the box to download a piece of software, were you really agreeing to be Bill Gate’s towel boy?
Here’s an entry on casuistry from the Oxford English Dictionary: “Casuistry destroys by distinctions and exceptions, all morality, and effaces the essential difference between right and wrong.”
In the spirit of the Easter season I prefer the words of a higher authority who said of such casuistry that it ladens men “with burdens grievous to be borne.”
No matter what they slip into t,e fine print.
Look, we will do this exchange with you but if there is any outlier issue we have major league, high-priced lawyers who will back us up and you are not going to win.I believe this is how most people think of the situation and there is nothing wrong with this. If you don't like that you are being required to agree to fine print, you are free to not do the exchange.
I readily sign such agreements that have such fine print and unless a lot of money is involved I never read them, especially since I am a student of economics and know that value scale adjustments override fine print.
By this, I mean that fine print can mean one thing or many things but the key is to "adjust" the value scale of the person attempting to enforce the fine print.
Often outlier issues don't even fall nicely under the fine print.
In most cases at the start, anyone attempting to enforce fine print against you really has little concern for how you view the situation and a correct reasonable interpretation of the situation. Their concern for you on their value scale is near the bottom if it exists on their value scale at all.
What you need to do is make concern about you a high priority on their value scale.
Sometimes this is as easy as charming a person, Other times it takes more effort.
When someone is a bit of an authoritarian I find addressing them seriously with respect works by saying:
Look, I am in a jam. I know you have the power and authority to fix this.By saying this I have placed on the mini-authoritarian's value scale the opportunity to show me his power. It really is an open sesame.
Depending on the specifics of the situation an indication that they are making a mistake that could cost them their job might work, but it can't be a weak threat. No Donald Trump type bluster here. You have to show them how their calculations of the situation are way off.
Also asking for a superior can work. A superior is more inclined to make an irritant go away, especially if it is clear you are going to stay an irritant if the matter isn't resolved. Occasionally, I have to climb high up the corporate letter to get my problem high on the corporate value scale. I do this, of course, only when something is very important to me. On minor stuff, I just take the "fine print" hit if I can't move value scales quickly.
Many years ago, I had a problem with Hilton Hotels and couldn't get anyone to budge. I was finally successful in getting Barron Hilton on the phone. At the time he was trying to get a gaming license in Atlantic City, using Wenzel logic I explained how I was going to be a major problem in his getting his license if my little problem wasn't taken care of. Resolving my problem scooted right to the top of the Hilton Hotel value scale.
Something similar happened to me with ATT, I had to get to the general counsel of ATT before the firm understood that the resolution of my problem needed to be at the top of ATT's value scale.
My proudest achievement was the time I had a problem with a major Silicon Valley company. I was getting nowhere with customer service and, as you all probably know, it is impossible to get contact information for any high-ranking official at this type firm.
So I did the next best thing, I started calling members of the board of directors of the firm until I got a very competent, high-ranking assistant to a board member that recognized that my problem should be the top priority at the Silicon Valley firm.
The problem was fixed pronto but more important, a top executive at the Silicon Valley firm called me and she gave me her personal cell phone number for any future problems.
I had reason to call her about three months later for a minor problem. It turned out she was on the on the road when I called.
Her response was:
"I am on the highway. I am going to have to pull off to the side to take this information down. I will call you right back."
Now, there's an executive who understands exactly where the resolution of my problems should go on her value scale!
I have plenty of other "adjusting value scale" stories I can tell but the point is this:
Fine print is the legal way of corporations telling you they are in charge. Employees go along with this even when the fine print doesn't cover your specific outlier. The only way you can change that is if you know how to adjust corporate employee value scales.
The more you study and think about how to adjust corporate employee value scales the better you get at it. Fine print is for the masses.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics, on LinkedIn and Facebook. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on iphone and stitcher.