Friday, December 5, 2008

Business Agreements

begin rant...

I will relate three tales from today that Hilary and I would like to gripe about. I think you will find that, in each case, it appears that a business agreement doesn't carry the same weight it used to.

First. We have an arrangement for an apartment in Concord, where H will be spending the next few months on an away rotation. We came to the arrangement with our future landlord nearly a month ago. I thought I was risking their ill will when I realized a week later that I'd forgotten to send the security deposit - something I quickly fixed. I guess I needn't have worried about it too much: the rental agreement has yet to arrive. (For the record, we have done the necessary checks, we aren't being scammed). As far as I can tell, they have sent it twice - the last time over a week ago. Each time I confirmed the address. Meanwhile our deposit check has been cashed, and the agree-upon lease start date will pass this weekend.

The thing that really gets me is that they cannot account for where their two missives are. Why? Because they sent them through the regular post. No tracking, no delivery confirmation, no return receipt, nothing. I sent the security deposit via registered mail, specifically so that I would have a record of it being sent and received. One would think that a contract such as a rental agreement should merit at least as much protection and care.

Second. We made an arrangement for a moving company to come by the house, tally up what we plan to send to Concord, and quote us a price. I left work at 3:30 to make the appointment - Hilary being tied up with a patient. The arranged 4:00 time came, and went, kept on going well past 5:00 with no show. Meanwhile, Hilary's cellphone, which she couldn't answer while seeing her patient, rang four times and left messages:
"It's 4:00 now and I just wanted to let you know that I'm running about 15 minutes late."
4:20 "I'm just calling to confirm that we're still on. I want to make sure that there's someone home before I drive across town."
"I really hope that you've just forgotten or something, and that you're not waiting at home with your phone turned off by accident. Call me and I'll come over."
"I've got a spot around 4:30 Monday, give Paula a call and we'll set that up."

In short, this guy unilaterally decided that, because he couldn't get in touch with a client he was already late for, he would call the thing off. I would say that, in the absence of contravening information, he should assume that the agreed-upon plan was still in force. He is trying to get our business, after all.

Third. I posted on craigslist to sell my old laptop. After some wrangling, I arranged to meet a guy halfway between here and St Paul to make the transaction. I left the house at 5:30 (no show from the movers, of course), and arrive at the arranged location - a McDonald's in Cannon Falls - shortly before the agreed-upon time of 6:30. I snag a table, set the computer out, and start surfing on my iPhone to kill time. When I pull up my email, I see a message from the would-be buyer:
6:17 "Due to weather it has taken us an hour to get 20 miles i cant find your number can we reschedule? We wont make it tonight"

I'll note that 20 miles would have put him more than halfway there. I can attest, both from my own experience and from checking the weather, that it was NOT snowing that badly. I would chalk it up more to Friday evening rush hour traffic getting out of the city. I'll admit that, lacking any other way to contact me, he had few options. Still, it would have been nice for him to wait a bit for a response. In any event, I emailing him back to let him know I had arrived, gave him my number, and hung out at McDonald's for nearly an hour - just in case. Even now, some four hours later, I have yet to hear from him.

So, in a single evening, Hilary and I have been snubbed on three business agreements. True, they weren't contracts; they were agreements. But I like to think that we took them seriously enough. What's their excuse?

The rant ends...

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