What approach do you take to terms and conditions? In the business world I have mentioned how I have broken terms, conditions and rules to get to goal, so I am no stranger to doing so, but in doing so I also had my own set of ethics that I followed. I might go so far as to say that I view my own underlying set of moral and ethical guidelines as the baseline rule, regardless of legality.
While that may sound odd, it is actually pretty common. There are many people, particularly those in the lower-to-middle class that just don’t feel ‘comfortable’ with acting fully within their legal rights on matters, typically when they are looking into leveraging loopholes that the very rich have embedded into the system for their own benefit.
When it comes to terms and conditions and finding loopholes I see two main camps – and I don’t really know which one is better than the other… maybe you can tell me?
- In the blue corner we have those that will exploit a legal error or omission for their own good. Specifically they will have no qualms whatsoever in abusing the heck out of a program or system even if they know if it is ‘wrong’ or a ‘mistake’ on behalf of the company. These folks would be willing to challenge a company in court based purely on rule of law, knowing full well they were getting away with something that perhaps they shouldn’t.
- In the red corner are those that don’t pay any regard to the Terms and Conditions at all, they just do whatever they like, to their own moral compass.
Ironically, I think that many people might consider the guys in the Red corner to be villains, but the guys in the blue corner to be honorable. I think it is a trend of the litigious nature of our society that allows this thinking to flourish. In truth, perhaps neither of these groups are right, or wrong for that matter.
I am clearly in the red corner. And it makes me react strangely to other people’s actions. For example yesterday I saw a tweet from someone asking @americanairlines if they were allowed to use an AA gift card to pay for taxes on an award flight. I own several AA gift cards, paid for with good money (well OK, they were paid for by using up my Amex Plat $200+$500 statement credits… against their terms and conditions…) and as far as American is concerned they got paid and I got a gift card.
So anyway, I am holding an AA giftcard and they slam me with Taxes and Fees on an award ticket, of course I should be able to pay those fees with it, why the hell not?
- I gave AA Cash, they deposited it in the bank (and benefit from an interest free loan from me)
- They gave me a promissory note for the equal value.
Sure, taxes and fees are often collected on behalf of someone else aren’t profit for the airline, but so what? You got my money, you had your fun with it, now I am cashing it in and you need to go pay the fees Mr American.
A clause in the Terms and Conditions that prohibits that is in my opinion unfair. So, what I would do is not ask @americanairlines if it was ‘allowed or not’ I would just go out there and try to pay with a gift card. If there wasn’t a place to do so on the website I might even call in and try for a manual override- then eventually I would give up, and probably be snarky.
You see, us ‘reds’ know that if the Ts&Cs say one thing, it doesn’t mean that the system underlying it knows that. Frequently people who code the payment systems aren’t able to understand the pages of legalize that companies produce so there is a disconnect. As a red, at times like this, should a disconnect appear I wouldn’t feel bad about using it.
What do you think? Are you a blue or a red, or is it all black and white?