By Jordan W. Charness
I remember way back to my first day in law school, when the professor of our introductory course asked us all to say why we wanted to become lawyers. The vast majority of us answered, honestly, that we became lawyers in order to help other people; we truly felt that as lawyers we could protect people’s rights. We understood that laws are complex and that in order for people to benefit from them, they would need properly trained lawyers to assist them.
In my own little way, I’ve made a career of explaining laws to non lawyers and making sure that people understand their rights. In addition to representing people as a lawyer, my radio and TV shows and print and Internet articles are all ways of making sure that people do not have their rights infringed upon because they don’t know the law.
I guess that’s why I was so proud of my son’s girlfriend who stood up for herself when someone tried to take advantage of her lack of knowledge in an automobile related field.
When driving, Sarah noticed that her mom’s car was pulling to left. It’s a fairly new luxury brand vehicle that had never exhibited this type of behaviour before. She got out to take a look at her tires, and noticed that the one on the left seem to be considerably flatter than the one on the right.
She drove the car into the nearest full-service gas station in order to have someone put air in her tires and fill up her tank with gas. The gas station attendant told her that her front left tire did look a little flat and put some air in the tire inflating it to its recommended pressure. He then went and checked the other three tires and squirted in a little bit of air into each one of them.
He then told her that the fill up was $70 and that he was charging her an additional $20 to put air in her tires. He told her that his station charges five dollars per tire for air inflation! She told him that she thought that it was a full-service gas station and that putting air in the tires was part of that full-service. He answered that while they do indeed provide the service they also charge for it. There were of course no signs or any other outside indications of additional charges visible anywhere.
She told the attendant that she would pay him as soon as she returned from the washroom and asked him where the toilets were located. He pointed her into the building. When she got inside she asked to see the manager and asked him if he would be kind enough to come outside as she was experiencing a little problem.
When she got outside she asked the manager in front of the gas station attendant how much it costs to put air in her tires. The manager told her that it wouldn’t cost anything as this was a full-service gas station and this was one of the services that they provided in exchange for paying a higher price per litre of gas.
She then told the manager that the gas station attendant wanted to charge her five dollars per tire and was demanding $20! The manager was aghast. He assured her that it was free and gave her a $50 gas card for her troubles. He then took the gas station attendant aside for a chat.
Aside from the gas station attendant, everyone in the story did the right thing. Sarah stood up for herself, and knew enough to challenge a questionable charge. The manager apologized and did what he could to make it right and then no doubt disciplined the dishonest employee.
Knowing your rights, standing up for your rights; that’s what a proper application of the law is all about.