Adobe Acrobat Reader
But Your Honor . . .
By George Porter
Whenever you hear someone begin a sentence with the words,
"but your honor," he is generally learning a very expensive
lesson. I've heard several stories about this form of education
and it might be worth a few minutes of your time to read through
them and see if they can possibly reduce your tuition in the school
of hard knocks.
I received a call one day from a person in the local area asking
me if I could possibly help with a legal problem he had. He said
he had sold a customer a home and had stated very clearly on the
contract that she could have either central air conditioning or
footings beneath her double-wide. The customer chose the air conditioning
by marking the "X" and putting her initials there and
was now suing him because her double-wide was falling apart. This
dealer could not understand for the life of him why the judge
sided with the customer. She had clearly made her choice and that
was that. I tried to explain to him that things of equal value
are not necessarily of equal importance and that setting a multi-section
on top of the ground when the frost line is 24" deep was
a very big mistake. Sadly, none of this made any impression on
him whatsoever and he went out of business grumbling about how
unfair life is and how stupid people are.
I also knew a fellow who couldn't understand why he had a problem.
It seems he made a deal with the customer that the customer would
make the foundation and basement for the home he was selling them.
When the time came to deliver the home, he noticed that the basement
was 4" shorter than the house, whereupon he decided it was
not his problem and put the house on it anyway. When the end of
the house started to fall off and sag, the customer then sued
the dealer, and the dealer said, "But your honor, the customer
built the basement. That was our deal." And his "honor"
replied "but Mr. Dealer, you put the house on top of that
bad basement when you knew it wasn't right. So all the damage
to the house is yours."
Making deals with customers is very hairy business. One should
be extremely careful because when push comes to shove, you will
be considered the expert and the customer will be the poor, innocent
deprived person who knew absolutely nothing and was taken advantage
of by you. Boiled down to its simplest terms, if you know you're
doing something wrong and do it anyway, you can just about always
expect to end up being held responsible for it.
How many customers have said, "I'll take care of clearing
the lot myself. You just bring the home." When you get there,
the lot looks almost exactly as it did the first time you ever
saw it and the customers telling you how hard he worked to get
it in this great shape. What you end up doing if you want to do
it right is doing all the work yourself all over again and that
big discount you gave that customer is out the window. Of course,
you might just want to install it on that customer's ill prepared
mud pie and suffer the consequences of that decision for a long
time to come. Can't you just hear yourself saying "but your
honor, the customer was in charge of fixing the lot." And
his honor says again, "but Mr. Dealer, you're the one who
put it there in that mud pie and that's why the house is sagging,
settling, leaking, creaking and rotting. Besides that, you're
the expert, not him."
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you will lose these little
battles and my suggestion for you would be to stay away from these
problems as much as possible. Do you what you've got to do right
up front. It's cheaper and it's a lot easier on the nerves.