[conspire] But it's standard practice. And nobody's ever mentioned this before.

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 30 15:16:44 PST 2006

Two anecdotes, with a small unifying theme:

1.  Today, I go over to the on-site health club at $CLIENT's campus, and
wait for the club manager to get off the 'phone.  Resulting dialogue,
closely paraphrased:

RM:  Hi.  I wanted to thank you folks for arranging those 'flu shots,
last week, and make a suggestion for how it might be improved in the

Mgr:  OK.

RM:  When I made the $25 cheque out to ClubOne -- you guys -- I probably
should have guessed that another firm would be doing the actual

Mgr:  That was surprising?

RM:  No, not really:  On reflection, it makes sense you'd have an
outside firm doing it.  The surprise came the following day, when I
checked in and was told immunisations would also require that I sign a
liability waiver absolving some firm I've never heard of, of
responsibility for substances injected into my arm.  My suggestion is
that you show customers the liability waiver, at the time they sign up
and pay.

Mgr:  We've had [firm] come by for several years, and there's never been
a problem.  This is the first anyone's raised this matter.  

RM:  I'm sure -- and the convenience is appreciated.  Without this
offer, I'd have had to find time to go to Kaiser Foundation.

Mgr:  I'll definitely check to see, but I'm pretty sure the waiver is

RM:  It isn't standard at Kaiser Foundation, nor at any number of
independent doctors -- who run the risk of being sued if they screw up 
injecting things into you.  I could have gotten a 'flu shot at Kaiser for 
a $5 office fee rather than $25, with no liability waiver -- but that's
not the point:  it might be fine if our people _just_ know it's coming,
rather than having the form sprung on them by surprise -- from a firm
they've never heard of -- a day after you've taken their cheques and
they think they have an agreement with _you_.  

And personally, I'd _love_ to have signed liability waivers from all and
sundry -- but, alas, the norm is I'm legally accountable for what I do
for a living, and nobody's going to be happy if I shove waiver forms at
them _after_ I've accepted their money.

Mgr:  Surely [firm] is still accountable?

RM:  Possibly to the extent civil liability cannot be totally
disclaimed, and there's criminal prosecution in extreme cases, but the 
point remains.  Let me give you an analogy:  I go over to Safeway, and
pay them for 3 lb. of pork chops.  They tell me to pick them up in back.
There, I'm told that Peninsula Pork Chop Company (whom I've never heard of) 
will hand over my steaks only if I separately sign away my right to sue
them if I get trichinosis.  Does all that seem entirely right?

Mgr:  It's an interesting thought.

[Points hereby granted to the manager for diplomacy.]

2.  Several years ago at $FIRM, the largest manufacturer of Linux
hardware, I was telephoned by a guy who identified himself as Sergeant
so-and-so of the Sunnyvale Police Dept.

Sgt:  We've recently recovered some gear burglarised from businesses
here in Sunnyvale, and it includes a $FIRM model 2230, S/N [blah].  
We were hoping you could look up the purchaser for us.

RM:  Thank you for calling, and I'll be happy to look that up for you --
but I'll have to call you back.  I assume you can be reached through the
Sunnyvale PD main switchboard?

Sgt:  Let me give you my direct number....

RM:  Thank you, sir -- and, no offence, but if you'll pardon my saying
so, you're so far just a voice on a telephone.  I need to call you back
via a number of public record, rather than one you give me, so that I 
have some confidence that I really am talking to Sunnyvale PD.

Sgt:  Huh.  Nobody's ever brought this up before.

RM:  I'm sure -- and your offer is appreciated.  I do however need to
take that extra step to protect our customers, and as due diligence.

[I also checked with Legal to make sure we were OK with giving out a
customer name, to help the customer recover a stolen server.]

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