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It’s Bad Enough When One Person Catches You…

, , , , , | Legal | August 17, 2022

This story begins about ten to twelve years ago. I was in my late twenties and I had bought a secondhand car at a car dealership. For a while, everything seemed fine, but then the car started revealing some issues.

First, after about a year, there was a wheel bearing problem (they were worn out) that I had to pay to have fixed. I was a little annoyed that those got worn out so soon after buying the car, but worse was yet to come.

About three years after buying the car, alert lamps started going off on the dashboard. I brought the car into a local workshop, and they diagnosed it as an ABS module failure. Basically, the control unit for the ABS brakes had to be replaced.

At this point, I should explain that in my country, we have a very good Consumer Rights law. Among other things, it states that if a product has a longer life expectancy than two years, then you can automatically expect it to last at least five years. If it doesn’t, the seller (if it’s a business) will be obliged to either repair the item for you or give you your money back. This applies to most items that cost a certain amount of money, and cars are certainly on the list. Not everything is covered (for instance, normal wear and tear), but something that is expected to last the car’s lifetime is.

Knowing this, I decided to contact the dealership to arrange for them to repair the ABS module. I drove for three hours and entered their shop, found the seller, and explained the problem.

Salesperson: “Well, that’s not really our problem, sorry.”

Me: “But… it’s only been three years since I bought the car. I bought it from here, and you’re a business. That means issues like this one are covered for five years.”

Salesperson: “Sorry, we can’t take responsibility for that.”

And that was pretty much the end of the conversation. Talking the matter over with my dad, we were both sure that we were right and that the seller was trying to pull one over on me.

I went back home (another three-hour drive) and double-checked the law. Then I wrote a very lawyer-like email to the dealership, quoting the correct sections of applicable law, which also specified that the seller of a faulty item needed to repair it with little to no inconvenience or cost to the customer. Obviously, travelling for hours would be quite inconvenient and cost me a bit of money, too.

I ended the email by saying that since I had already been to see them and been dismissed, I could get the car fixed myself and send them the bill. This would be much more costly for them, but that wasn’t my problem. They’d had their chance.

The next day, I got a response — not from the salesperson but the company manager. It was a full retreat, claiming that there had been a misunderstanding; they thought I was talking about a different car. I suspected they were lying. There was no way they didn’t know which car I was talking about; I had only bought one car from that company and they have complete records of all the cars they buy and sell. Still, the manager offered to have the issue repaired post-haste, as soon as I could make my way back there. I decided not to press the issue, as I was essentially getting what I wanted (even though I should have been given it earlier).

I went back a while later and they fixed the issue without any cost to me. The car had several other problems later: the ESP module went, and the servo pump also needed changing… but the dealership never tried to argue with me again.

A few years later, I saw the salesperson on TV. It was one of those shows that help people who are struggling with legal issues. Apparently, this particular car dealership had been trying to cheat lots of customers for years using the same sort of tactics they had against me. They were telling customers who reported problems that it wasn’t their responsibility (despite the law saying otherwise), hoping to get away with it if the customers didn’t know their rights. The TV journalist tore the salesman a new one, listing case after case where they had broken the law, forcing the company reps to make a meek apology. They looked pathetic. On national TV.

I had already cut ties with the dealership at this point, never doing any sort of business with them again. My dad (who had previously bought four different cars from this dealership) also blacklisted them. The dealership is still in business, but from what I’m told, they made some changes to their personnel after that TV show’s visit.

Know your legal rights, people!

Please Observe Our Looks Of Disdain

, , , , , , | Working | August 12, 2022

Back in the 2000s, I was a soccer referee. One year, there were several of us from the same club who travelled to one of the biggest kids’ tournaments in the world to officiate matches over a period of days.

One of our members had suffered a stroke some years earlier. Luckily, he had made it through; he was in fine physical health and his brain also worked fine. His speech centre had taken a hit, though, making him speak very slowly and sounding a bit strange when he talked. That still didn’t make him a bad referee; he had passed all the tests and officiated matches on a regular basis, so doing so at this tournament shouldn’t be a problem.

At this tournament, there were observers as well as referees. These observers would watch matches and report back to the organizers on the quality of the referees. That way, the organizers could screen out the bad ones and let the best ones get the finals — kind of the same process as in professional soccer.

One day, our referee friend was officiating a match when the observer on site suddenly took it upon himself to walk onto the field, blow a whistle, and stop the match. Both the players and the referee seemed confused and ended up standing around the observer, trying to figure out what was happening. The coaches of both teams also wandered onto the pitch and approached the observer.

Coach #1: “What’s going on?”

Observer: “This referee is not fit to officiate the match.”

Coach #2: “Uh… why? The organizers sent him here, so he must be.”

Observer: “It’s clear that he is not fit. He can’t talk properly.”

The two coaches looked at each other and both shook their heads.

Coach #1: “Listen, pal, we’ve been playing for twenty minutes now, and he hasn’t made a single mistake. You, on the other hand, have: observers are only here to observe and report. You do not have the authority to stop the match.”

Coach #2: “We’ll be reporting this to the organizers after the match.”

It turned out that both coaches were actually referees in Division 2, the third-highest level in the country. The observer was dismissed from the tournament and sent home, while our referee friend kept getting matches.

And Now It Will Be Stuck In Our Head For At Least Seven Years

, , , , , , , | Related | July 7, 2022

We were travelling as a family in our car, listening to the radio, and the song “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin came on. I was perhaps seven years old at the time, and since English is not my first language, I didn’t understand all the words, but I liked singing along anyway. That, of course, meant I would often get some words wrong.

Me: “Take my bread awaaaay!”

My sister snatched my sandwich from me and we all laughed.

At Least They’ll Be Warm?

, , , , , , | Friendly Related | June 15, 2022

It’s 2020. My son is a very social young man — fifteen years old — and the world situation has made him turn to online services to keep in touch with his friends.

One of his friends is very religious and in a way where certain “ways of life” means you go to Hell. Over several weeks, if not months, my son comes down and tells me about conversations with this friend.

Son: “[Friend] says all nonbelievers go to Hell. And if you do drugs or drink alcohol, same. Stop!”

Son: “[Friend] says transgender people and gays get a hot ‘ever after’ when they die, too.”

Son: “[Friend]’s not talking to me anymore.”

Me: “Why is that, kiddo?”

Son: “Today, we talked about food, and [Friend] said [Friend #2] is going to Hell.”

[Friend #2] is from a different country, and apparently, his diet and religion means he is doomed. 

I tell [Friend] that with all these rules, Hell sounds more and more like a place I would prefer over Heaven. Then he says all my other friends will be in Heaven while [Friend #2] and I are in Hell, and we will be lonely.

And I say, “No, not by your account.” And now he has blocked me, as well as my son.

Me: “I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

Son: “Yeah, I guess. He’s been my friend for years, but it’s getting to be too much. I’m not going to say I’m sorry, because I’m not, but if he unblocks me and plays it off as if nothing happened, I’m fine with that.”

He stops to think for a while, before bellowing a laugh.

Son: “If not, I probably won’t see him again until Hell.”

And he walked off, laughing about his clever remark.

It’s now 2022 and they ARE talking. His friend is still very religious but better at accepting different cultures and religions and not so quick to judge others.

If Only He’d Saw The Solution

, , , , , | Working | May 27, 2022

When I was a student around fifteen years ago, I worked part-time in the fresh goods (meat/fish/cheese) department of a supermarket. One of the things we did there was using a bandsaw to cut up big chunks of bone and frozen pieces of meat into slices.

At the end of the day, one of the jobs was to clean the saw, which meant taking the whole thing apart, bringing it back into the dishwashing room, cleaning out most of the meat and gristle by hand, and then running it through the industrial dishwashing machine. Afterward, we’d put it together again. This whole operation would take about half an hour.

As there would only be one of us doing the late shift and closing up, there was a bit of a procedure to when we’d close the various sections. I couldn’t just stay in the back and wash everything; I also had to tend to whatever customers came in just before closing time. If we had been two people during the last shift, one of us could have worked up front while the other did all the cleaning, but our boss was thinking more about the bottom line than about efficiency.

I tried my best to be quick and efficient when cleaning and closing up, but because the supermarket remained open for an hour or two after our fresh goods section had closed, there would always be the odd customer coming over to us just before we shut down.

Back to the saw. Sometimes, customers would ask us to cut a specific piece of meat. No problem, as long as the saw was still open. Once I’d taken it apart, though, using it again would require it to be cleaned a second time. I, therefore, tried being efficient: if customers wanted a sliced leg of lamb, I’d have pre-sliced pieces ready. I always tried to make sure I had pork ribs, lamb, and other things already cut. That way, if somebody wanted something cut after I had started cleaning the saw, I could say, “Sorry, sir, the saw is being cleaned at the moment. I do however have what you want already made. How many slices would you like?”

This seemed to work okay, but once the boss found out that I dismantled the saw at least half an hour before my section’s closing time, he pointed out during a staff meeting:

Boss: “We always do what the customers want; keep the saw open until closing time.”

Me: “Okay, but you know it takes quite a while to clean, right? Waiting until the section is closed means I’ll have to stay longer.”

Sure enough, waiting until closing time before dismantling the saw meant I’d finish my shift about half an hour later than normal. There was nothing that could be done about that; it takes that long to clean. I tried being efficient, clearing the shelves and cleaning everything else, but even if the saw was the only thing left to do as the section closed, I couldn’t change the laws of physics. Then, this happened in a later staff meeting.

Boss: “The fresh goods section has been clocking out pretty late the last couple of months. Try to get things done quicker.”

Me: *Sigh*

In the end, I went back to doing things my way. It turned out that not reassembling the clean saw until after closing was the key, as customers would see for themselves that it was not in operation. That kept most of them from asking.