Colleen Figg

Legal vs Moral

2008-10-13 09:07

Colleen Figg

Everyone knows the small print on service contracts is a means for the supplying company to wriggle out of certain obligations in the event of something going wrong.

Once you've passed the legal majority, signed your first contract and had a run-in when you have tried to cancel it because it is not providing you with what was promised, you are unpleasantly familiar with the slippery slope that is a company's actual legal responsibility to you.

However, back in the dark ages when companies first became established there was a tacit acceptance on the part of the supplier that his legal obligation was not the only one he actually had to his customers.

There was the much more subtle, yet equally important, moral responsibility which has become something of a dirty word in today's money whoring business world.

A moral responsibility exists to fulfil a contract to, or understanding with, your client. Hence, if you recommend that he uses a certain kind of flooring that is absolutely intolerant of rainy conditions when he lives on a flood plain, you would have a moral obligation to replace his damaged floors after the first flood, at no charge.

Today's "businessmen" want no truck with such nonsense: you signed the contract, you promised to pay, now cough up - is it his fault you had rains for two weeks? Is he God? Quite clearly not, so fork over and shut up about it why don't you?

In fact had you read the terms of the contract you would have seen that he specifically exonerated himself from any obligation concerning flood damage! More fool you. Why don't you get with the programme?

A moral duty

The double whammy here is that not only are you shafted - almost literally and not in any pleasurable way - you are made to pay for the pleasure too! Unfortunately from a legal perspective the slimy conmen are quite right - it was on the contract and you did sign it.

The good news is that last week I discovered two gentlemen who do not fall into this morally reprehensible majority when I discovered that since I moved down here my wireless internet coverage does not work; well, I mean there is no coverage here.

The first few people I spoke droned on about contracts and legalities, fine print and signatures and would not let me upgrade my contract or change to another one.

But these two exceptional men realised they as supplier have a moral duty to me as a client, that far exceeds their legal liability and which may even outweigh the latter, in fact.

I'm not allowed to disclose any names at the moment, or any company names. Nothing has been resolved and they are still working to find a way around the situation that will help me, their client.

They are in constant contact with me via e-mail and phone, and the last thing one of them said to me today was that it completely defeats the object of his job to have an unhappy client who they could have helped if people were only interested in looking at a thing from a different angle.

Bravo, I say!

Send your comments to Colleen.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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