Friday, May 22, 2009

Job Creation in the Age of Unemployment

With all the news about recession, unemployment and dearth of job creation these days I thought I would weigh in with a job that needs to be created, pronto. The requirements: must be familiar with the English language, have a sense of subject, verb and direct object, and able to state an idea in less than 20 words. The job: rewriting those “customer agreements” that are sent with your credit card statement and utility bills.

Who reads those “agreements”? Well, I do. And here is a sentence buried in the fine print in section 8, letter a, on page 4 of one such agreement.

Therefore, except as set forth in Subsection 8b below, your monetary remedy for loss or damage caused by the provision, operation, or use of any Services or for the delay, malfunction, or partial or total failure of any Services, including such loss or damage caused by [XYZ Company’s] negligence, shall not exceed the credit specified in the applicable Tariff or Guidebook, or, if no credits are specified, shall not exceed the amount of the malfunction, or failure (except to the extent additional monetary remedies are provided for in Section 9).

Here is my translation:

So, if you are an idiot and use your phone to bean your mother-in-law over the head, we won’t buy you another one. Also, if one of our technicians totally effs up your wires, you are screwed. Suck it up.

These “service agreements” – and I can think of two things wrong with that description – are total bull manure. With all the laid-off attorneys these days jonesing for things to do with all that dormant talent, the credit card companies and utilities might want to think about cultivating an attitude of nervousness. For starters, these verbose, badly written directives discriminate against our large immigrant population, much of which is not familiar with the ins and outs of American legalese. Last time I checked, discrimination was more than bad manners; it was against the law. Let’s get a few attorneys named Hernandez, Szczęśniewski, Dizdarević and Abdelkadiri to start needling The Man.

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