The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Friday, January 13, 2012

Paying for their mistakes

I was thinking about an old joke... "to err is human... but to really foul things up, you need a computer." Which is true but a computer only magnifies the mistakes made by a human. They are good scapegoats, though, I must admit. I always blame mine.

That got me to thinking about something else. We say that people pay for their mistakes and I suppose that is basically true. I feel I've paid for mine anyway. But there are some folks who do not. Instead, others pay for them. I am talking about lawyers and mechanics here, not so much ex-wives and co-workers/bosses.

As some of you who have followed this blog know, I have been dealing with lawyers over a stipend owed my mother by the estate of her late boss... a lawyer. [link] Unlike most lawyers I have run into, he managed to retain a conscience and a sense of loyalty. Over the three years(!) that this has dragged on, I noticed something. When a letter was not written as the lawyer wanted (or as I had asked), it would be "revised" and that revision would cost me money. I, therefore, paid for the mistakes made by the lawyer or his employee. If the lawyer does something wrong and causes a complication, guess who pays? The client. I am beginning to think "client" is an ancient term meaning "one who pays through the nose."

And then I recalled all the times I have dealt with mechanics. When I was young, I did much of any repair work needed on my car. There were two reasons for this. The first was that I had no money to pay someone else to repair it and the second the car needed a lot of repairing. My first car was a `52 Studebaker purchased in 1963 for $80. At the time, any car that ran was worth at least $100 so I figured it was a bargain. It had a lot of problems so I learned a lot of things about repairing cars.

Eventually, however, you find it more convenient to let someone else repair your car. And change the oil and do other bits of routine maintenance. Because cars got more complex, more full of alien technology. That is when I first realized mechanics expected you to pay for their mistakes. No, not when they damaged something in the process of performing maintenance or making a repair. When they misdiagnosed the problem.

You bring your car to the mechanic with a problem. You describe the symptoms (as you do with your doctor), the mechanic (or "service writer" at dealerships) says "Yup, sounds like the carburetor" and promptly charges you a jillion dollars to rebuild it. Nowadays, of course, you don't have carburetors so they say "Yup, sounds like the engine's computer" and charge you a jillion dollars to replace it. But the principle is the same.

Sometime around 1982, I got smart and started insisting they write down the symptoms where they used to write "rebuild/replace [whatever]". then, when the problem was not solved by whatever they overcharged me for, I would bring the car back and demand they fix it at no extra charge. When they would protest, I would brandish the work order and insist, pointing out that they did not fix the problem and so I would not pay for the mistakes they made. It worked more often than not, I was surprised to find out.

Not that I am recommending this... because mechanics may have caught onto the trick. So don't blame me if they no longer fall for it.

It's Friday the 13th... I probably shouldn't have talked about car repairs...


sightings said...

I always envied people who had jobs where they got paid even when they got things wrong -- such as lawyers, doctors, dentists, politicians, professors -- instead of a job where you had to go fix your mistakes for no extra charge -- writer, reporter. I remember I once hired an accountant to do my taxes. Later on, I realized she'd made several mistakes -- none of them major, just sloppy work -- but I had to pay her anyway. Now I make my own mistakes, for free.

Douglas4517 said...

I think that's why they are called "professionals"... they are very good at fleecing the rest of us.