Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How can we say this? Tactfully...........

We have been thinking a lot lately about why consumer complaints to the Chief Judge seem to go nowhere. Two warnings in two years; one written; one verbal. It is an amazing set of statistics. Either there is great consumer contentment with their GALs and they are doing a near perfect job, or there is huge, bigoted, unfair "bad sportism" about GALs that has to be weeded out with "tough love". The stories we hear from many consumers suggest that more than 2 GALs have done bad things and should warrant some form of corrective action. What gives?

Then we started to dig a bit. Who creates GALs? Who trains them? Who has worked with them in the courts? Who has worked with GALs in the legislature? Who acts on consumer complaints about GALs? As they say, "Three guesses and the first two don't count." It is analogous to asking the Director of General Motors to deal with consumer complaints about Chevrolets. Sure he knows a lot about Chevrolets, but how on earth can he keep his judgment fair, and avoid it being tainted by pride in his "product".

It is an amazing example of asking the manufacturer be exclusively in charge of consumer's rights, protection and consumer's complaints. How is the judge in this role to avoid a rampant perception of all consumer's complaints as evidence of consumers being "bad sports"? And ... viewing these consumer's complaints as a sort of temper tantrums? It leads to a "tough love" handling of perceived tantrums. It leads to minimal instruction/help in how to do a complaint, no identification of criteria for a complaint, no consumers at hearings. It leads to consumer unfriendliness in the final response. These responses are becoming notorious: terse one line responses to consumers after their complaint has been dismissed and they have poured their hearts out about lives that have been wounded by a GAL.

We sense that it is the pride of the "manufacturer" in his product that gets in the way of consumer protection. The manufacturer is a GAL's best friend!

Other states are moving the consumer complaint process away from the office of the manufacturer. We need to too.

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