bureaucracybusters

Posts Tagged ‘THE LOS ANGELES’

BROWNSHIRTS WITHOUT UNIFORMS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on November 23, 2016 at 12:09 am

Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump are furious at Starbucks.

For starters, the company’s CEO, Howard Schultz, endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

Then, Starbucks “declared war on Christmas” by issuing a “less-festive” holiday paper drinking cup.

Starbucks releases its traditional red holiday cup each November. Past designs have included imagery such as snowflakes, snowmen and Christmas trees.

But in 2015, the company issued a plain red cup minus imagery, triggering a backlash among image-obsessed Christians, who saw it as an “attack” on Christmas.

[The Bible doesn’t give even a generalized date for Jesus’ birth. Nor did Jesus command his followers to celebrate his birth. At the Last Supper, he did command them to honor his death by taking the sacrament.

[Most of the traditions now associated with Christmas can be traced directly to the ancient Roman festival, Saturnalia, which celebrated the deity Saturn. These included feasting, drinking, gift-giving, hanging wreaths and decorating trees—which were not brought indoors.]

When Trump—then running for President—learned of the change in Starbucks cups, he was outraged.

“Did you read about Starbucks?” Trump asked supporters during a rally in Springfield, Ill. “No more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks. No more. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.

“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump told the crowd—as if, by becoming President, he could issue such an order. “That I can tell you. That I can tell you! Unbelievable.”

Donald Trump

Now that Trump is about to become President, his legions of Trumpsters aren’t waiting for an official order.

On November 17, a Trumpster using the screen name Baked Alaska came up with a new idea to intimidate Starbucks.

Going on Twitter, he advised fellow Trumpsters to proceed with “Operation #TrumpCup.”  All they had to do was:

  1. “Go to Starbucks & tell them your name is Trump
  2. “If they refuse take video
  3. “Pls share & spread the word”

One Trumpster subsequently posted on Twitter the following: “I got my Starbucks with Trump name. he yelled Trump get your drink 

Another one proudly tweeted: “@bakedalaska did this today. They didn’t want to, said it was too political. I reminded her the campaign was over & he’s our president now. pic.twitter.com/LHgi7Vqexh

This may seem wonderful to Trumpsters, but there are five serious flaws with it:

  1. By taking on the name of the man they idolize, they are obliterating their own identities.
  2. They are trying to impose their idol’s name on others, whether they admire him or not.
  3. This is exactly what the fanatical followers of all tyrants do.
  4. If there’s more than one Trumpster in a Starbucks, how will each one know which “Trump” is being summoned to get his drink?
  5. This is actually the opposite of a boycott. They’re making a “statement”—but they’re also putting money into Starbucks’ pocket while doing so.

Baked Alaska, however, intends to stick to his campaign. “We have a culture war to win,” he said in a Periscope video. He claimed that Twitter was suspending accounts of “alt-Right” [i.e., Fascist] users and that liberals were making whites—especially men—feel guilty.

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Baked Alaska with his Trump cup

Starbucks reacted by emailing the following statement: “Over the years, writing customer names on cups and calling out their names has been a fun ritual in our stores. Rarely has it been abused or taken advantage of. We hope and trust that our customers will continue to honor that tradition. We don’t require our partners to write or call out names.”

What’s past often turns out to be prologue.

Throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump relied on threats and insults. He used them against Republicans in the primaries, and against Democrats in the general election.  

On March 16, he warned his fellow Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination at the convention in July, his supporters would literally riot: “I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen.”

After Trump got the nomination, his surrogates continued to raise the specter of violence. Roger Stone, one of his advisers, told the Right-wing Breitbart News website:

“I think he’s [Trump] gotta put [Democrats] on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath….We will not stand for it.”

If Clinton had won, Trump’s followers would have remained—waiting for the next champion to voice their hatred and call on their votes. Meanwhile, they would have lost their energy as a social and political force.  

But Trump did win, and now they feel emboldened. And they will continue to draw encouragement from a steady stream of attacks by Trump and his surrogates.

During the general election, many Trump supporters openly threatened to wage armed rebellion against the government if Clinton won.  

What will they do after Trump becomes President—and starts blasting tweets at those who have offended his fragile ego?

Will they stand in front of Starbucks shops and refuse entry to customers–as Adolf Hitler’s brown-shirted Stormtroopers blocked customers from entering Jewish stores? 

And will intimidated local police stand by and allow it—as they did in Hitler’s Germany? 

“Operation TrumpCup” is only the beginning.

DENYING THE PAST: DAVID IRVING AND DONALD TRUMP: PART TWO (END)

In History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 25, 2016 at 12:10 am

On October 7, The Washington Post leaked a video of Donald Trump making sexually predatory comments about women. The remarks came during a 2005 exchange with Billy Bush, then the host of Access Hollywood

The two were traveling in an Access Hollywood bus to the set of the soap opera Days of Our Lives, where Trump was to make a cameo appearance. A “hot” microphone picked up their conversation–which has proved damning for Trump: 

Donald Trump: You know and I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her.

She was married. No this was–and I moved on her very heavily, in fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married.

Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

[At that point, they spot Adrianne Zucker, the starring actress in Days in Our Lives.]

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful–I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.

And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

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Donald Trump

When the Washington Post broke the story on October 7, the reaction was immediate–and explosive.

The Trump campaign quickly released a statement: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course–not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”  

During the second Presidential debate on October 9, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump: “Have you ever done those things?”  

Trump: “And I will tell you–no I have not.”  

On October 12, The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times and People all published stories of women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Trump.

Mindy McGillivray told the Post that Trump groped her buttocks when she visited Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2013.  

In December, 2005, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Donald and Melania Trump for a first-wedding-anniversary feature story.  

During a break in the interview, Trump said he wanted to show Stoynoff around his mansion. There was one “tremendous” room he especially wanted to show her.

According to her account: “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

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Natasha Stoynoff

Fortunately, Trump’s butler soon entered the room, and Trump acted as though nothing had happened. But as soon as he and Stoynoff were alone again, Trump said: “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”  

Stoynoff asked her editors–and received permission–to be removed from writing any further Trump features.

The Times reported that, more than 30 years ago, Trump had made equally unwelcome advances toward businesswoman Jessica Leeds, then 38.  

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Jessica Leeds

She said she was sitting next to Trump in the first-class cabin of a New York-bound flight when Trump lifted the armrest, grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.  

She fled to the back of the plane.

Another woman who spoke to the Times was Rachel Crooks. She was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2005.

One morning she came face-to-face with Trump outside an elevator in the building. Knowing that her company did business with him, she introduced herself. They shook hands. But instead of letting go, Trump kissed her cheeks, and then “kissed me directly on the mouth.”

On October 11, questioned by a Times reporter about the women’s claims, Trump shouted: “None of this ever took place.”

He accused the newspaper of inventing accusations to hurt his Presidential candidacy.  And he threatened to sue for libel if the Times reported the women’s stories. 

On October 13, Trump used Twitter to deny the allegations in the Times and People.

On October 14, at a rally in North Carolina, Trump attacked the character of the women accusing him.  

Of Stoynoff, he said: “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

Calling Jessica Leeds “that horrible woman,” he said: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Whoever she is, wherever she comes from, the stories are total fiction. They’re 100% made up. They never happened.”  

At one point during his lengthy outburst, Trump–who’s been married three times and often boasted of his sexual prowess–asked why President Barack Obama hasn’t had similar claims leveled against him.  

By October 14, at least 12 women had publicly accused Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior.

DENYING THE PAST: DAVID IRVING AND DONALD TRUMP: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 24, 2016 at 12:22 am

“Certain things are true,” says the American historian Deborah Lipstadt in the newly-released movie, Denial. “Elvis is dead. The ice caps are melting. And the Holocaust did happen.

“Millions of Jews went to their deaths in camps and open pits in a brutal genocide which was sanctioned and operated by the leaders of the Third Reich. There are some subjects about which two points of view are not equally valid.”

On September 5, 1996, the British author and Holocaust denier David Irving  (Timothy Spall  in the movie) filed a libel suit against Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) and her British publisher Penguin Books.

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In 1993, in her book, Denying the Holocaust, Lipstadt had called Irving a Holocaust denier and accused him of distorting evidence and manipulating historical documents.

Irving had authored a series of books about the Third Reich and World War II. Among these: The War Path; Hitler’s War; The Trail of the Fox (a biography of Erwin Rommel); and The War Between the Generals (on the infighting among the Allied high command).

Of these, Hitler’s War (1977) was–and remains–the most controversial. Although Irving admitted that the Holocaust had occurred, he claimed that Hitler hadn’t ordered it–or even known about it. He blamed Reichsfuhrer-SS Henirich Himmler and his number-two deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, as its architects.

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David Irving

For decades, Irving boasted that no one had ever found a written order from Hitler ordering the Holocaust–and offered to pay £1000 to anyone who could find such an order.

In later years, Irving completely denied that the Holocaust had occurred. He claimed that gas chambers had never been used to exterminate Jews and there was no officially-sanctioned Third Reich plan to slaughter European Jewry. 

But Irving claimed that Lipstadt’s labeling him a Holocaust denier had tarred him as a disreputable historian–and had thus damaged his professional reputation.

Irving sued in a British court because the burden would be on the defendant to prove that s/he had not committed libel. (In American courts, the plaintiff must not only prove s/he has been libeled, but with actual malice.)

Lipstadt faced a second hurdle: Her lawyers ordered her to not take the witness stand. They wanted to put and keep the focus entirely on Irving–and to make his virulent anti-Semitism the issue in the case.

In her 2005 autobiography, Denial, Lipstadt described the agonies she endured in preparing for–and sitting through–this trial:

“For four years I immersed myself in the works of a man who exuded contempt for me and much of what I believed. I lost many nights of sleep, worried that because of some legal fluke Irving might prevail.”

Deborah Lipstadt

For Lipstadt, more was at stake than the possibility of losing a big chunk of money.

Above all, she feared that an Irving victory would give anti-Semites a legal precedent for “proving” that the extermination of six million Jewish men, women and children hadn’t occurred.

The case was tried in a London court from January to March, 2000.

Entering court on the first morning of trial, Irving assured the assembled reporters that he would be victorious.

Asked where his legal team was, he said he had chosen to represent himself: They might know the law, but he knew the topic–Hitler and the Third Reich.

The outcome was a disaster–for Irving.

Among the expert witnesses testifying on behalf of Lipstadt was Richard J. Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge University and author of a three-volume history on the Third Reich. In his examination of Irving’s work, Evans found:

“Not one of [Irving’s] books, speeches or articles, not one paragraph, not one sentence in any of them, can be taken on trust as an accurate representation of its historical subject.

“All of them are completely worthless as history, because Irving cannot be trusted anywhere, in any of them, to give a reliable account of what he is talking or writing about. … if we mean by historian someone who is concerned to discover the truth about the past, and to give as accurate a representation of it as possible, then Irving is not a historian.”

Judge Charles Gray found that:

“Irving had for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence” and that “for the same reasons, he had portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews.”

The judge also found that Irving was “an active Holocaust denier; that he was anti-Semitic and racist and that he associated with right-wing extremists who promoted neo-Nazism.”

Irving was discredited as a historian and ordered to pay all of Penguin’s costs of the trial, estimated to be as much as £2 million ($3.2 million in American currency). When Irving didn’t pay, he was forced into bankruptcy and lost his home.

Asked by a reporter, “Will you stop denying the Holocaust on the basis of this judgment?” Irving replied, “Good Lord, no.”

Denying the truth about the past didn’t work for David Irving. Soon America will discover if it works for Donald Trump.

KGB AIRWAYS: PART EIGHT (END)

In History, Law, Self-Help, Social commentary on November 24, 2014 at 12:00 am

So you’ve decided to sue the airline you believe wronged you.

One option is to do so in small claims court.

A plus is you don’t need an attorney. In fact, you’re barred from bringing in an attorney. You represent yourself, which means you don’t have to pay an attorney–either up-front or at the end of the case.

Another plus: It will cost you far less to represent yourself than it will cost the airline to send a representative.

If you file in California and the airline is headquartered in New York, it will be expensive for them to send a rep to attend the proceedings. If the airline fails to send someone as its representative–which is highly unlikely–it loses by default.

A minus is that you may not be the confrontational type.  You may also feel intimidated by the legal process–and afraid of looking like an idiot if you lose.

Another minus is that each state sets a different amount you can win in damages.

To learn about the rules applying to small claims courts in your state, consult the following link:

Click here: 50 State Overview of Small Claims Rules | Nolo.com.

A second option is to take your case to civil court.

A plus is that the dollar-amount you can obtain at this level is far higher than in small-claims court.

A minus is that you’ll definitely want to retain an attorney.

True, you can legally represent yourself.  But aviation law is complex.  The airline will definitely have an attorney, so if you don’t, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.

If you can find an attorney willing to represent you on a contingency fee basis, you don’t have to pay him unless you win.  His fee will then come out of your settlement amount.

Another minus: If you can’t find an attorney willing to take your case on this basis, you’ll have to pay him by the hour, after first putting up a retainer fee, which can be quite large.

A third minus is that the courts are clogged with cases, and it can take months or even years before yours will be heard.

And remember: The vast majority of cases–civil and criminal–are settled outside of court.  In civil cases especially, judges strongly urge both sides to reach a compromise rather than duke it out in court.

And both sides are usually willing to do this, since there’s no telling how a jury might rule.

Finally, there’s the option of filing a class-action lawsuit.

A plus to this is that you’re not alone in your charge against the airline.  Other passengers who have been similarly wronged are seeking damages, and so the spotlight is not on any one plaintiff.

A minus is that such cases are extremely complex and must be handled by experienced attorneys.

Typically, federal courts are thought to be more favorable for defendants, and state courts more favorable for plaintiffs. Many class actions are filed initially in state court. The defendant will frequently try to remove the case to federal court.

Another minus: If your side prevails, the amount of money each plaintiff receives will be far smaller than if the award were to be divided between a single plaintiff and his attorney(s).

Finally, even if you win, you can be certain the airline will appeal the verdict.  Such appeals can go on for literally years.

On a more far-reaching basis, you can demand that your Congressional representatives support passenger rights through legislation.

Protections are especially needed when a single airline official–such as a steward–kicks a passenger off an airplane for reasons that have nothing to do with security.

Examples:

  • Two women kissing;
  • A steward demanding whether a woman is wearing underwear;
  • Another steward taking offense at a passenger’s request for help.)

During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Congress overrode only one of his 44 vetoes.  In that case, Congress put a cap on the rates cable TV companies could charge.

They did so because their constituents had made clear their rage about high-priced cable fees.

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives will respond to constituent demands:

  1. If enough voters make their specific demands known; and
  2. If those voters make clear that ignoring their demands will guarantee defeat at the next election.

There are consumer rights organizations now pressing for vitally-needed passenger protections.  These organizations need support–both in terms of members and money.

Only then can they counter the legalized bribes (known as “campaign contributions) the airlines offer to members of Congress.

An example is Flyers Rights, which can be reached at: FlyersRights.ORG – Largest Non-Profit Airline Consumer Organization.

Above all, remember: Airlines are run by corporations.

Their foremost concern is not your comfort or even safety as a passenger.  It’s with further enriching their key executives.

You must be willing to stand up for your own rights–because the airline couldn’t care less about them.

KGB AIRWAYS: PART SEVEN (OF EIGHT)

In History, Law, Self-Help, Social commentary on November 21, 2014 at 12:22 am

You can’t get the airline to take your complaint seriously but you don’t want to file a lawsuit.

So now what do you do?

You could file a complaint with one or more consumer complaint websites.  Just remember:

  • What you say online can hurt you.
  • Accuse someone of criminal or shameful behavior, and you can be sued for libel.
  • Threaten someone with exposure or financial ruin unless he pays you money and you can be privately sued and/or criminally prosecuted for extortion.
  • And once you click on the “Send” button, there’s no recalling your email.

Review the guidelines offered in Part Six of this series on how to safely craft your letter/email.

Below is a partial list of consumer complaint websites.  No endorsement is implied by this listing.  It’s offered simply to illustrate the variety of such websites available.

Your first impulse will probably be to file your complaint with a a website like one of these.

Don’t do it.

Instead, try to resolve your problem (assuming it can be resolved) with the airline.

Why?  Two reasons:

  1. You may be able to obtain what you want at that level, without having to do anything more.
  2. If you don’t give the airline the chance to address your grievance, you will be accused of pursuing a vendetta.  This will be especially true if you later sue the airline.

Use websites like these as a fallback option–in case you’re unable to can’t resolve your problem with the airlines.

And, frankly, there’s a good chance you won’t.

In its September 3, 2009 issue, Time magazine warned that calling the airlines’ customer complaint lines would likely prove a waste of time.

The major carriers have, quietly, made it steadily more difficult for customers to reach a person with their complaints. “The airlines don’t want to talk to their  customers,” says John Tschohl, a consultant to businesses on customer service.

Even the few airlines that still have customer-service numbers bury them deep within their websites.  Finding them is often as much a matter of luck as persistence.

So as advised in Part Five of this series:

  • Don’t waste your time with the Customer Service line.
  • Go directly to the topmost official(s) of the airline and make it clear why it’s in their best interests to resolve your problem. 
  • Then, if you can’t find a workable solution, file your complaint with as many consumer-protection websites as possible.

You can also file complaints with one or more federal agencies that hold jurisdiction over the airlines.

If your complaint is safety related, address it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at:

Assistant Administrator for System Safety ASY-100

Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20591

Phone: 1-866-835-5322

Click here: Contact the Aviation Safety Hotline

If your complaint involves security, direct it to the Transportation Safety Adminisration (TSA).

You can reach this by phone at 866-289-9673 or by email at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov.

A final option is to sue the airline.

For most people, bringing in a lawyer is like bringing up the heavy artillery.  When should you do so?

Christopher Elliott, author, consumer advocate and journalist, outlines “five times when you should consider skipping the complaints process and going straight to court:

  1. When they’re playing games.
  2. When they’ve broken a contract.
  3. When they’re being dishonest.
  4. When they’re ignoring you.
  5. When they aren’t listening to reason.

Elliott’s webpage contains a wealth of practical advice for those who’ve had their fill of airline arrogance.  It can be accessed thus:

Click here: See you in court: 5 times when you should just sue ‘em.

Yet another must-read for those wondering if they should file suit:

Click here: Lies the Airlines Tell Us – ABC News

Assuming you decide to sue, there are three ways to do this:

  1. In small claims court.
  2. In regular civil court as an individual claimant.
  3. As part of a class-action lawsuit.

Each approach has its own series of pluses and minuses.  I’ll explore these in my next–and final–part of this series.

KGB AIRWAYS: PART EIGHT (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law, Self-Help on December 16, 2013 at 12:18 am

So you’ve decided to sue the airline you believe wronged you.

One option is to do so in small claims court.

A plus is you don’t need an attorney. In fact, you’re barred from bringing in an attorney. You represent yourself, which means you don’t have to pay an attorney–either up-front or at the end of the case.

Another plus: It will cost you far less to represent yourself than it will cost the airline to send a representative.

If you file in California and the airline is headquartered in New York, it will be expensive for them to send a rep to attend the proceedings. If the airline fails to send someone as its representative–which is highly unlikely–it loses by default.

A minus is that you may not be the confrontational type.  You may also feel intimidated by the legal process–and afraid of looking like an idiot if you lose.

Another minus is that each state sets a different amount you can win in damages.

To learn about the rules applying to small claims courts in your state, consult the following link: Click here: 50 State Overview of Small Claims Rules | Nolo.com.

A second option is to take your case to civil court.

A plus is that the dollar-amount you can obtain at this level is far higher than in small-claims court.

A minus is that you’ll definitely want to retain an attorney.

True, you can legally represent yourself.  But aviation law is complex.  The airline will definitely have an attorney, so if you don’t, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.

If you can find an attorney willing to represent you on a contingency fee basis, you don’t have to pay him unless you win.  His fee will then come out of your settlement amount.

Another minus: If you can’t find an attorney willing to take your case on this basis, you’ll have to pay him by the hour, after first putting up a retainer fee, which can be quite large.

A third minus is that the courts are clogged with cases, and it can take months or even years before yours will be heard.

And remember: The vast majority of cases–civil and criminal–are settled outside of court.  In civil cases especially, judges strongly urge both sides to reach a compromise rather than duke it out in court.

And both sides are usually willing to do this, since there’s no telling how a jury might rule.

Finally, there’s the option of filing a class-action lawsuit.

A plus to this is that you’re not alone in your charge against the airline.  Other passengers who have been similarly wronged are seeking damages, and so the spotlight is not on any one plaintiff.

A minus is that such cases are extremely complex and must be handled by experienced attorneys.

Typically, federal courts are thought to be more favorable for defendants, and state courts more favorable for plaintiffs. Many class actions are filed initially in state court. The defendant will frequently try to remove the case to federal court.

Another minus: If your side prevails, the amount of money each plaintiff receives will be far smaller than if the award were to be divided between a single plaintiff and his attorney(s).

Finally, even if you win, you can be certain the airline will appeal the verdict.  Such appeals can go on for literally years.

On a more far-reaching basis, you can demand that your Congressional representatives support passenger rights through legislation.

Protections are especially needed when a single airline official–such as a steward–kicks a passenger off an airplane for reasons that have nothing to do with security.

(Examples:

  • Two women kissing;
  • a steward demanding whether a woman is wearing underwear;
  • another steward taking offense at a passenger’s request for help.)

During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Congress overrode only one of his 44 vetoes.  In that case, Congress put a cap on the rates cable TV companies could charge.

They did so because their constituents had made clear their rage about high-priced fees.

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives will respond to constituent demands:

  1. If enough voters make their specific demands known; and
  2. If those voters make clear that ignoring their demands will guarantee defeat at the next election.

There are consumer rights organizations now pressing for vitally-needed passenger protections.  These organizations need support–both in terms of members and money.

Only then can they counter the legalized bribes (known as “campaign contributions) the airlines offer to members of Congress.

An example is Flyers Rights, which can be reached at: FlyersRights.ORG – Largest Non-Profit Airline Consumer Organization.

Above all, remember: Airlines are run by corporations.

Their foremost concern is not your comfort or even safety as a passenger.  It’s with further enriching their key executives.

You must be willing to stand up for your own rights–because the airline couldn’t care less about them.

KGB AIRWAYS: PART SEVEN (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Self-Help, Social commentary on December 13, 2013 at 12:31 am

You can’t get the airline to take your complaint seriously but you don’t want to file a lawsuit.

So now what do you do?

You could file a complaint with one or more consumer complaint websites.  Just remember:

  • What you say online can hurt you.
  • Accuse someone of criminal or shameful behavior, and you can be sued for libel.
  • Threaten someone with exposure or financial ruin aunless he pays you money and you can be privately sued and/or criminally prosecuted for extortion.
  • And once you click on the “Send” button, there’s no recalling your email.

Review the guidelines offered in Part Six of this series on how to safely craft your letter/email.

Below is a partial list of consumer complaint websites.  No endorsement is implied by this listing.  It’s offered simply to illustrate the variety of such websites available.

http://www.pissedconsumer.com/ Pissed Consumer (complaints only)

http://www.measuredup.com/ Measured Up (“Customers Review / Businesses Reply / Everybody Wins”)

http://www.complaints.com/ Complaints (post and research consumer complaints)

http://www.thesqueakywheel.com/ The Squeaky Wheel (submits your complaint to google)

http://www.consumercomplaintagency.org/ Consumer Complaint Agency (“Take [unspecified] action on your behalf”)

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ Federal Trade Commission (does not resolve individual consumer complaints)

http://www.complaintnow.com/ Complaint Now (complaints only)

http://hissingkitty.com/ Hissing Kitty (posts your complaint on Google, Yahoo, and Bing)

http://www.airlinecomplaints.org/ Airline Complaints (complaints only)

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement (U.S. Department of Transportation) (complaints)

http://www.airsafe.com/complain/complain.htm Air Safe (“critical information for the traveling public”)

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/airlines.html Consumer Affairs (complaints only)

Your first impulse will probably be to immediately file your complaint with a website like one of these.

Don’t do it.

Instead, try to resolve your problem (assuming it can be resolved) with the airline.

Why?  Two reasons:

  1. You may be able to obtain what you want at that level, without having to do anything more.
  2. If you don’t give the airline the chance to address your grievance, you will be accused of pursuing a vendetta.  This will be especially true if you later sue the airline.

Use websites like these as a fallback option–in case you’re unable to can’t resolve your problem with the airlines.

And, frankly, there’s a good chance you won’t.

In its September 3, 2009 issue, Time magazine warned that calling the airlines’ customer complaint lines would likely prove a waste of time.

The major carriers have, quietly, made it steadily more difficult for customers to reach a person with their complaints. “The airlines don’t want to talk to their  customers,” says John Tschohl, a consultant to businesses on customer service.

Even the few airlines that still have customer-service numbers bury them deep within their websites.  Finding them is often as much a matter of luck as persistence.

So as advised in Part Five of this series: Don’t waste your time with the Customer Service line.  Go directly to the topmost official(s) of the airline and make it clear why it’s in their best interests to resolve your problem. 

Then, if you can’t find a workable solution, file your complaint with as many consumer-protection websites as possible.

You can also file complaints with one or more federal agencies that hold jurisdiction over the airlines.

If your complaint is safety related, address it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at:

Assistant Administrator for System Safety ASY-100
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20591

1-866-835-5322

Click here: Contact the Aviation Safety Hotline

If your complaint involves security, direct it to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  You can reach this by phone at 866-289-9673 or by e-mail at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov.

A final option is to sue the airline.

For most people, bringing in a lawyer is like bringing up the heavy artillery.  When should you do so?

Christopher Elliott, author, consumer advocate and journalist, outlines “five times when you should consider skipping the complaints process and going straight to court:

  1. When they’re playing games.
  2. When they’ve broken a contract.
  3. When they’re being dishonest.
  4. When they’re ignoring you.
  5. When they aren’t listening to reason.

Elliott’s webpage contains a wealth of practical advice for those who’ve had their fill of airline arrogance.  It can be accessed thus: Click here: See you in court: 5 times when you should just sue ‘em.

Yet another must-read for those wondering if they should file suit: Click here: Lies the Airlines Tell Us – ABC News

Assuming you decide to sue, there are three ways to do this:

  1. In small claims court.
  2. In regular civil court as an individual claimant.
  3. As part of a class-action lawsuit.

Each approach has its own series of pluses and minuses.  I’ll explore these in my next column.

KGB AIRWAYS: PART EIGHT (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Self-Help on December 24, 2012 at 12:05 am

So you’ve decided to sue the airline you believe wronged you.

One option is to do so in small claims court.

A plus is you don’t need an attorney. In fact, you’re barred from bringing in an attorney. You represent yourself, which means you don’t have to pay an attorney–either up-front or at the end of the case.

Another plus: It will cost you far less to represent yourself than it will cost the airline to send a representative. If you file in California and the airline is headquartered in New York, it will be expensive for them to send a rep to attend the proceedings. If the airline fails to send someone as its representative–which is highly unlikely–it loses by default.

A minus is that you may not be the confrontational type.  You may also feel intimidated by the legal process–and afraid of looking like an idiot if you lose.

Another minus is that each state sets a different amount you can win in damages.

To learn about the rules applying to small claims courts in your state, consult the following link: Click here: 50 State Overview of Small Claims Rules | Nolo.com.

A second option is to take your case to civil court.

A plus is that the dollar-amount you can obtain at this level is far higher than in small-claims court.

A minus is that you’ll definitely want to retain an attorney.

True, you can legally represent yourself.  But aviation law is complex.  The airline will definitely have an attorney, so if you don’t, you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight.

If you can find an attorney willing to represent you on a contingency fee basis, you don’t have to pay him unless you win.  His fee will then come out of your settlement amount.

Another minus: If you can’t find an attorney willing to take your case on this basis, you’ll have to pay him by the hour, after first putting up a retainer fee, which can be quite large.

A third minus is that the courts are clogged with cases, and it can take months or even years before yours will be heard.

And remember: The vast majority of cases–civil and criminal–are settled outside of court.  In civil cases especially, judges strongly urge both sides to reach a compromise rather than duke it out in court.

And both sides are usually willing to do this, since there’s no telling how a jury might rule.

Finally, there’s the option of filing a class-action lawsuit.

A plus to this is that you’re not alone in your charge against the airline.  Other passengers who have been similarly wronged are seeking damages, and so the spotlight is not on any one plaintiff.

A minus is that such cases are extremely complex and must be handled by experienced attorneys.  Typically, federal courts are thought to be more favorable for defendants, and state courts more favorable for plaintiffs. Many class actions are filed initially in state court. The defendant will frequently try to remove the case to federal court.

Another minus: If your side prevails, the amount of money each plaintiff receives will be far smaller than if the award were to be divided between a single plaintiff and his attorney(s).

Finally, even if you win, you can be certain the airline will appeal the verdict.  Such appeals can go on for literally years.

On a more far-reaching basis, you can demand that your Congressional representatives support passenger rights through legislation.

Protections are especially needed when a single airline official–such as a steward–kicks a passenger off an airplane for reasons that have nothing to do with security.

(Examples:

  • Two women kissing;
  • a steward demanding whether a woman is wearing underwear;
  • another steward taking offense at a passenger’s request for help.)

During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Congress overrode only one of his 44 vetoes.  In that case, Congress put a cap on the rates cable TV companies could charge.

They did so because their constituents had made clear their rage about high-priced fees.

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives will respond to constituent demands:

  1. If enough voters make their specific demands known; and
  2. If those voters make clear that ignoring their demands will guarantee defeat at the next election.

There are consumer rights organizations now pressing for vitally-needed passenger protections.  These organizations need support–both in terms of members and money.

Only then can they counter the legalized bribes (known as “campaign contributions) the airlines offer to members of Congress.

An example is Flyers Rights, which can be reached at: FlyersRights.ORG – Largest Non-Profit Airline Consumer Organization.

Above all, remember: Airlines are run by corporations.

Their foremost concern is not your comfort or even safety as a passenger.  It’s with further enriching their key executives.

You must be willing to stand up for your own rights–because the airline couldn’t care less about them.

KGB AIRWAYS: PART SEVEN (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Self-Help on December 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

You can’t get the airline to take your complaint seriously but you don’t want to file a lawsuit.

So now what do you do?

You could file a complaint with one or more consumer complaint websites.  Just remember:

  • What you say online can hurt you.
  • Accuse someone of criminal or shameful behavior, and you can be sued for libel.
  • Threaten someone with exposure or financial ruin aunless he pays you money and you can be privately sued and/or criminally prosecuted for extortion.
  • And once you click on the “Send” button, there’s no recalling your email.

Review the guidelines offered in Part Six of this series on how to safely craft your letter/email.

Below is a partial list of consumer complaint websites.  No endorsement is implied by this listing.  It’s offered simply to illustrate the variety of such websites available.

http://www.pissedconsumer.com/ Pissed Consumer (complaints only)

http://www.measuredup.com/ Measured Up (“Customers Review / Businesses Reply / Everybody Wins”)

http://www.complaints.com/ Complaints (post and research consumer complaints)

http://www.thesqueakywheel.com/ The Squeaky Wheel (submits your complaint to google)

http://www.consumercomplaintagency.org/ Consumer Complaint Agency (“Take [unspecified] action on your behalf”)

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ Federal Trade Commission (does not resolve individual consumer complaints)

http://www.complaintnow.com/ Complaint Now (complaints only)

http://hissingkitty.com/ Hissing Kitty (posts your complaint on Google, Yahoo, and Bing)

http://www.airlinecomplaints.org/ Airline Complaints (complaints only)

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement (U.S. Department of Transportation) (complaints)

http://www.airsafe.com/complain/complain.htm Air Safe (“critical information for the traveling public”)

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/airlines.html Consumer Affairs (complaints only)

Your first impulse will probably be to file your complaint with a a website like one of these.

Don’t do it.

Instead, try to resolve your problem (assuming it can be resolved) with the airline.

Why?  Two reasons:

  1. You may be able to obtain what you want at that level, without having to do anything more.
  2. If you don’t give the airline the chance to address your grievance, you will be accused of pursuing a vendetta.  This will be especially true if you later sue the airline.

Use websites like these as a fallback option–in case you’re unable to can’t resolve your problem with the airlines.

And, frankly, there’s a good chance you won’t.

In its September 3, 2009 issue, Time magazine warned that calling the airlines’ customer complaint lines would likely prove a waste of time.

The major carriers have, quietly, made it steadily more difficult for customers to reach a person with their complaints. “The airlines don’t want to talk to their  customers,” says John Tschohl, a consultant to businesses on customer service.

Even the few airlines that still have customer-service numbers bury them deep within their websites.  Finding them is often as much a matter of luck as persistence.

So as advised in Part Five of this series: Don’t waste your time with the Customer Service line.  Go directly to the topmost official(s) of the airline and make it clear why it’s in their best interests to resolve your problem.  Then, if you can’t find a workable solution, file your complaint with as many consumer-protection websites as possible.

You can also file complaints with one or more federal agencies that hold jurisdiction over the airlines.

If your complaint is safety related, address it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at:

Assistant Administrator for System Safety ASY-100

Federal Aviation Administration

800 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20591

1-866-835-5322

Click here: Contact the Aviation Safety Hotline

If your complaint involves security, direct it to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  You can reach this by phone at 866-289-9673 or by e-mail at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov.

A final optioon is to sue the airline.

For most people, bringing in a lawyer is like bringing up the heavy artillery.  When should you do so?

Christopher Elliott, author, consumer advocate and journalist, outlines “five times when you should consider skipping the complaints process and going straight to court:

  1. When they’re playing games.
  2. When they’ve broken a contract.
  3. When they’re being dishonest.
  4. When they’re ignoring you.
  5. When they aren’t listening to reason.

Elliott’s webpage contains a wealth of practical advice for those who’ve had their fill of airline arrogance.  It can be accessed thus: Click here: See you in court: 5 times when you should just sue ‘em.

Yet another must-read for those wondering if they should file suit: Click here: Lies the Airlines Tell Us – ABC News

Assuming you decide to sue, there are three ways to do this:

  1. In small claims court.
  2. In regular civil court as an individual claimant.
  3. As part of a class-action lawsuit.

Each approach has its own series of pluses and minuses.  I’ll explore these in my next column.

KGB AIRWAYS – PART SEVEN (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Self-Help, Social commentary on June 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

You can’t get the airline to take your complaint seriously but you don’t want to file a lawsuit.

So now what do you do?

You could file a complaint with one or more consumer complaint websites.  Just remember:

  • What you say online can hurt you.
  • Accuse someone of criminal or shameful behavior, and you can be sued for libel.
  • Threaten someone with exposure or financial ruin aunless he pays you money and you can be privately sued and/or criminally prosecuted for extortion.
  • And once you click on the “Send” button, there’s no recalling your email.

Review the guidelines offered in Part Six of this series on how to safely craft your letter/email.

Below is a partial list of consumer complaint websites.  No endorsement is implied by this listing.  It’s offered simply to illustrate the variety of such websites available.

http://www.yelp.com/ Yelp! (complaints only)

http://www.ripoffreport.com/ Ripoff Report (complaints only)

http://www.pissedconsumer.com/ Pissed Consumer (complaints only)

http://www.measuredup.com/ Measured Up (“Customers Review / Businesses Reply / Everybody Wins”)

http://www.complaints.com/ Complaints (post and research consumer complaints)

http://www.thesqueakywheel.com/ The Squeaky Wheel (submits your complaint to google)

http://www.consumercomplaintagency.org/ Consumer Complaint Agency (“Take [unspecified] action on your behalf”)

https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ Federal Trade Commission (does not resolve individual consumer complaints)

http://www.complaintnow.com/ Complaint Now (complaints only)

http://hissingkitty.com/ Hissing Kitty (posts your complaint on Google, Yahoo, and Bing)

http://www.airlinecomplaints.org/ Airline Complaints (complaints only)

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement (U.S. Department of Transportation) (complaints)

http://www.airsafe.com/complain/complain.htm Air Safe (“critical information for the traveling public”)

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/airlines.html Consumer Affairs (complaints only)

Your first impulse will probably be to immediately file your complaint with a website like one of these.

Don’t do it.

Instead, try to resolve your problem (assuming it can be resolved) with the airline.

Why?  Two reasons:

  1. You may be able to obtain what you want at that level, without having to do anything more.
  2. If you don’t give the airline the chance to address your grievance, you will be accused of pursuing a vendetta.  This will be especially true if you later sue the airline.

Use websites like these as a fallback option–in case you’re unable to can’t resolve your problem with the airlines.

And, frankly, there’s a good chance you won’t.

In its September 3, 2009 issue, Time magazine warned that calling the airlines’ customer complaint lines would likely prove a waste of time.

The major carriers have, quietly, made it steadily more difficult for customers to reach a person with their complaints. “The airlines don’t want to talk to their  customers,” says John Tschohl, a consultant to businesses on customer service.

Even the few airlines that still have customer-service numbers bury them deep within their websites.  Finding them is often as much a matter of luck as persistence.

So as advised in Part Five of this series: Don’t waste your time with the Customer Service line.  Go directly to the topmost official(s) of the airline and make it clear why it’s in their best interests to resolve your problem.  Then, if you can’t find a workable solution, file your complaint with as many consumer-protection websites as possible.

You can also file complaints with one or more federal agencies that hold jurisdiction over the airlines.

If your complaint is safety related, address it to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at:

Assistant Administrator for System Safety ASY-100

Federal Aviation Administration

800 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20591

1-866-835-5322

Click here: Contact the Aviation Safety Hotline

If your complaint involves security, direct it to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  You can reach this by phone at 866-289-9673 or by e-mail at tsa-contactcenter@dhs.gov.

A final option is to sue the airline.

For most people, bringing in a lawyer is like bringing up the heavy artillery.  When should you do so?

Christopher Elliott, author, consumer advocate and journalist, outlines “five times when you should consider skipping the complaints process and going straight to court:

  1. When they’re playing games.
  2. When they’ve broken a contract.
  3. When they’re being dishonest.
  4. When they’re ignoring you.
  5. When they aren’t listening to reason.

Elliott’s webpage contains a wealth of practical advice for those who’ve had their fill of airline arrogance.  It can be accessed thus: Click here: See you in court: 5 times when you should just sue ‘em.

Yet another must-read for those wondering if they should file suit: Click here: Lies the Airlines Tell Us – ABC News

Assuming you decide to sue, there are three ways to do this:

  1. In small claims court.
  2. In regular civil court as an individual claimant.
  3. As part of a class-action lawsuit.

Each approach has its own series of pluses and minuses.  I’ll explore these in my next column.

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