March 20, 2012

Why We Want the Government

Companion to earlier post "Why We Hate the Government"

I recently purchased an airline ticket for an international flight. The ticket was non refundable, and cost me to the north of $1000. A few days later, I received an email informing me that the flight that made the second leg of my itinerary was canceled. I was suggested to accept accommodation on another flight that was offered, that suddenly took my layover time from a comfortable 2.5 hours to 9 hours! Furthermore, I was advised to accept the offer fast, as the seats were limited in the new flight. If I failed to act in time, I was advised that, I might not have any flight to take, and that there would be no refund in any case....since the ticket I purchased was 'non refundable'!!


About a year ago, my cellphone began to malfunction. I had paid $200+ tax for this phone with a two year contract, and with an expensive, mandatory high end data plan. I called their customer support and they asked me to take the phone to their nearest station. I did so, and they changed the phone with a refurbished one of the same model. Price tag: $100. My protest fell on deaf ears that if I am locked into a contract, everything that is part of the deal has to work, unless I made a mistake with the equipment, or I should have the option of exiting that contract if the company cannot ensure that their part of the deal is working through the period of my lock in. The worst part: after another 9 months or so, the replacement phone too went bust, just wouldn't charge. A frustrated me, simply broke the contract, and switched phone and provider. "Per contract" I got slapped with another $50 as the pro-rata penalty.

We, the consumer, do not care for reams of compliance paperwork that companies have to fill every year. It creates only work for lawyers and file pusher professionals, rather than adding any value to anybody. Cut this paperwork, reduce cost, hassles and distractions of going into business by all means. Consumer protection does not need to be about paperwork. In fact, the ability that a Corporation builds up with respect to such nebulous legalities and paperwork processes enables it a position of strength in oppressing lesser mortal individuals: employees and customers.

As individuals we know that we cannot cause harm to other individuals and not have to pay for it. The law is clear what you cannot do. Nobody fills in compliance paperwork every year for it, yet we ~ stay in compliance. Corporate and consumer protection laws needs to be made in the same spirit and paradigm: Simple, Direct, Not needing any attorney representation or case writers to "comply".

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