Monday, February 02, 2009

Coat Check, General Disclaimer.

Cindy from Ontario emailed me last week. The subject was very surprising. “They stole my COAT!!” Well I certainly felt that help was needed.

So here is what happened. Cindy was out during an office Christmas party. The group of revelers went to a club district establishment, to sew the night together with a few night caps. The club required all coats be checked into their coat check. Cindy gleefully complied, handed over a couple dollars, her jacket, and received her claim ticket.

When the night was over, Cindy went to collect her coat. After standing in line for a few minutes, she handed over her ticket. Some surly overworked, underpaid staff member said.

“We can’t find it; you need to wait till all the other coats are gone. Someone will bring it back”.

After nearly an hour of waiting, and being the last “civilians” in the joint, no coat. Cindy asked very nicely, “Where is my coat, and when will I get it back?”

The manager was called and he advised that she return the next day. Cindy returned the following day. No luck. Her jacket was still missing. The manager explained to Cindy, that their policy is clear; they are not responsible for lost or stolen goods. So they will keep her number on file and if a jacket is returned they will call her. Other then that, she is out of luck... So she thought.

That’s why Cindy asked for my help.

Cindy, you do have a right to be compensated by the club. You contracted with them to hold your coat, until the end of the night. This is called a bailment. In Ontario if the club takes your coat, and then damages or loses it, they need to prove that they were not negligent, or at fault. Otherwise they are responsible for the replacement value.

In some locations there is a set value for lost items under certain bailment conditions. This is called a capped liability, or statutory maximum, say $200 or $300. The general principle is the same. You let your coat with someone who says they will take care of it, and they don't, you may have recourse.

The clubs policy, or “disclaimer” does not mean they are not responsible. You had an expectation that your coat would be there. You paid for the service, and they need to honour it. The biggest problem in a situation like this is convincing the club they are responsible. They will stand fast behind their policy because they just dont know any better.

So Cindy, I have written a letter on your behalf to the club, outlining the facts, in a very straightforward, and polite way. We have asked for the replacement value. To show what I asked for is reasonable, I found a few types of this jacket on eBay, and have used those prices as a ball park.

After a few phone calls back and forth, the club agreed to pay up to a maximum of $200 for a replacement to be bought. The club was very stubborn at first about their very clear policy. I asked if they could show, even in a convincing manner that it was not their fault.

I asked them to review the security tapes from the coat check area and then they realized my argument was solid. Unless they could prove they did not make a mistake, I was not going to leave them alone.

In the end Cindy decided to buy a new coat, and the club honoured their agreement and gave Cindy $200 towards the purchase.

There are times when a disclaimer does not apply. There are times that it does apply.

If the company has total control of a situation, then a general disclaimer usually won’t work

When you pay for something to be done, and they fail, a general disclaimer wont usually work.

When you are entitled to have something replaced, it is the replacement value, not brand new. Try to work with those that you feel are responsible in a respectful and polite tone. And always remember. A well written letter can be a saving grace.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

No comments:

Post a Comment



Trace AnyoneTrace AnyoneTrace Anyoneplay race car gamesFree Links Direct