Swiftian Complaint Resolution

Thursday, January 15, 2015

John Stossel writes about how differently the free market -- and improper government regulation -- attack minor consumer complaints. Stossel's example problem is hired drivers who nickel-and-dime their customers by taking circuitous routes. The difference in how these problems are dealt with is farcical. For starters, the effective, free-market solution, "[G]o to a different one," takes only five words to describe. Over most of the rest of his piece, Stossel contrasts this to four different, expensive, ineffective bureaucratic solutions. The fourth is especially amusing -- or it would be, if people didn't keep electing officials who want to make us live like this:

On to Plan D: a PDF. Bureaucrats love PDF's. Las Vegas asks you to print out a witness statement for people who have been taken on an overly long route and "complete the sworn affidavit in view of a public notary."

I like how [Firefox founder Blake] Ross sums up plan D. Just carry "a desktop computer, a printer, envelopes, stamps, a fax machine [and] notary ... note the driver's full name, permit number and physical appearance. If you don't have this information memorized for some reason, just ask the driver while you're locked in the car with him ... explain that you're trying to have him fired.

Ross actually bothered to try out the government's complaint system when he was ripped off, but he never heard back from any Vegas official. That's how government consumer protection typically operates.
Making a full case for limited government or considering why government responses in such cases usually end up looking like this are beyond the scope of Stossel's piece. Nevertheless, by highlighting such absurdity and reminding us that things don't have to be this way, Stossel does us all a great service.

-- CAV


1-16-15: Corrected some typos. 

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