Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's A Fine Thing

What empowers a business or institution, outside of the legal system, to fine, charge a fee or otherwise penalize people for mistakes or tardiness? What are the criteria?

Does the government issue fee licenses? And if so, what’s the fee to get one? Whatever the case, I want one.

For weeks I listened to a coworker make phone calls trying to get her son’s school records transferred from New York to Florida. Apparently there was some slipup at the previous school and now the new school wants the kid to repeat some classes.

This clearly wasn’t the woman’s fault; the school did not fulfill their obligations. Why can’t she fine them for each day that the problem remains unresolved? (Yeah, yeah, I know, we’d just end up paying more in taxes for schools. But the bastards aren’t motivated to get things right!)

I want to fine my apartment complex every time they’re late on a maintenance call, or fail to even acknowledge my request until I call them a second time – which is more frequent than I care to mention. Not that it’s ever happened, but they’d charge me for being late on rent, correct?

Penalties aren’t always financial, however.

I once showed up a few minutes late to a doctor’s appointment because I was stuck in a meeting at work. When I arrived the receptionist told me my appointment had been cancelled and I would have to reschedule. So, in the future, when I am sitting in the waiting room well past my scheduled appointment time, what kind of penalty can I impose? Nada.

True, some places have a “satisfaction guaranteed” policy. Like some video stores penalize themselves if they run out of stock of a new movie. But they penalize themselves on their own terms. When you get to determine your own punishment, you usually give yourself the minimum. A true deterrent should be placed in other hands.

Nor is goodwill toward the customer like one sometimes encounters in a store (as above) a prevalent practice in the business world. It’s time to spread the power around to where both sides have responsibilities and both sides pay penalties. I'm talking in a very real and binding way.

I guess at the core I am just ticked that we're expected to forgive the mistakes of others because they are "human," yet we cannot expect them to show us the same consideration. Didn't know you weren't supposed to park there because there was no sign? Tough titties!

So, I’m calling “foul” on the one-way street of one-sided penalties. Transgressors of the world, get your asses in the box, lest I be tempted to put your “pretty little head(s)” in there!


Bird said...

hahahah - you go penalize 'em bogs. while you're at it - can you penalize the graduate studies office at my college? because they posted my MA late on my transcript i was unable to receive my pay raise during the summer -thus received less moola for teaching summer school than i deserved (well, hell, even with the pay raise, i woud have still rcvd less $ than i deserved.)

by the way - i tried charging my doc's office once for my wait time (private doc, private insurance, appointment made and i waited 45 minutes - not 'cause some other patient had an emergency, but cause my doc overbooked). the front office people looked at me like i was crazy and my doc just shrugged and smiled.

Bird said...

PS - by the way bogs - i hoisted a few asian beers on your behalf on my trip. cold beer on a hot afternoon in thailand is exquisite.

Pete Bogs said...

bird - those are great examples... we ought to work on this thing!

thanks for the shout-out from the East!

Hellpig said...

Bogs I once owed my former employer cash for a draw I took out.But we parted ways,I was fired...but they had me come all the way to work wasting an entire day of mine...I went to get final check..boss wanted me to cash at the store right then and there to pay off draw.I handed him a bill that I typed up @ $65.00hr exactly what I charge per hour in my side business and told him I expected payment in full in 30 days....never heard from him but I also never paid draw either.

Paddys_Gal said...

I think you are on to something, Pete.

Pete Bogs said...

man, I've just written about it, while some of you guys have done it... awesome!

the closest I've come to this is when I kept getting a bill I had already paid... I kept sending them back with notes saying they already had their money... eventually, I wrote "FINAL NOTICE" in big letters on the outside of the envelope... lol

liberalbanana said...

I know exactly what you mean! I hate the doctor's office one-way penalty thing the most. When are they EVER on time?!? SO frustrating.

The Flabbergasted Heathen said...


Damn it Bogs, come up north and run for office. I'll sure as hell vote for ya!

Pete Bogs said...

banana - I want to pull a "Norma Rae" on this and demand my rights...

flab - I may just do that - it's hot as hell in FL right now...

Solitaire said...

beautiful! I wish I could fine those companies that are free to fine me... turn about it fair play is it not???

Have a great week!

CROAK said...

This is a great post.
So much frustration and so little recompense.

Suggestions gratefully received!

Good one bogs