Sunday, December 26, 2010

Business with unreliable partners

How can we communicate with a business partner at an unequal footing to ensure that they are keeping their side of the contract?

For example, say that you are flying with and airline company that claims that they closed the door on you for safety or other reasons. How can we verify that our seat on the flight has not been given to a standby passenger, and that this is not a lie? When they say that they tried to reschedule on another flight on the same day but failed, how can we verify that that is not a ure lie? When they say thay also looked at departures from other companies but that everything was full, how do we know it is the truth? When they claim that we cannot get our luggage back, or that the seats they are finally giving us are the last ones available on that flight, how do we know it is the truth?

When trust is gone, we need a way to make sure that the contract between company and customer is not breached by the side that has more power and a monopoly on information. How? Should air passengers unionize? Or is there some cryptographic procedure that would help verify the company's claims?

1 comment:

  1. Big companies act in their own self interest. (Not unlike customers.) The most plausible answer to all your questions is that the airline company is consistently lying and abusing its dominance. Unfortunately, I'm afraid there is not much that can be done with regards to air travel, as airline companies are, for the most part, in terrible economical shape — so much so that they can't afford to have the customer be right anymore. Case in point is the emergence of rude, low-quality but cheap air operators who trade quality of service for low fares.

    It used to be that cable companies were the bane of a regular person's life, now it seems to have become mobile phone providers. From personal experience, I can tell you that Orange in France resorts to blatantly grotesque and unlawful practices to rule in less monetarily interesting customers.


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