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What's the primary factor keeping a consumer from handing out fees as liberally as corporations or small businesses do?

Can an individual, or more appropriately, what keeps an individual from being able to charge, fine or penalize a Business? If it could be accomplished, but at a high cost, let's assume it's based on principal and not monetary gain.

Restocking Fees: This is a poor example, but the only thing I could think of at the moment.

Wasting my time Fee: Returning an item which QuickMart backs and sells wastes a total of (x) hours in which I typically get paid (y) dollars. Here's a fee for (z), Quickmart. Because you've been in good standing, I'll waive the fuel usage cost of (FU).

Why can I not institute my own policy, fine the business and send them to collections when they don't pay?

No-Show Fee: This is another lousy example, because of the nature of the field, and I've only had it happen once... and my physician is awesome.

My PCP charges a $125 fee if I don't give (x) amount of notice prior to canceling an appointment. Yet I take a day off work and get a call the morning of my appointment explaining that, for whatever reason, I was going to have to reschedule my visit.

Lastly, let's say a 1-man Business [a contractor] goes to HomeMart to get tools or materials for a job he/she is in the middle of, a HomeMart snafu occurs and the contractor loses 3 or 4 hours of work because of something that was HomeMart's fault. Perhaps it upsets the contractor's customer and costs him/her referrals, etc.

I apologize for the poor examples, but I'm drawing a blank trying to think of the laundry list of them I've encountered over the years. I think I made my point though. And I'm sincerely curious, not masking a rant as a question. There're those who secure legal representation if a Company looks at them the wrong way, and I'm pretty certain it's people like that who've contemplated what I'm asking.

  • The question is interesting, but can use some clarification. Restocking? Not sure what you mean. Some stores charge this fee, but how can the reverse apply? Your best example is time, the doctor that cancels last minute. The cable guy that's a no show when you lost a half day's work. But what exactly is the question? Can the consumer charge this? Or should we try to? – JTP - Apologise to Monica Aug 18 '15 at 16:14
  • Yes, time is my prime example. To me, you can't put a price on my time. I try to leave ends slightly open to questions which will probably pertain to things I know nothing about. Law probably plays a part and I'm not a lawyer. I'm curious, and if I ask whether or not someone can hand out fees haphazardly I'll most certainly get a, "no". Asking "should we try?" will most certainly draw more fire for not being able to be answered. So, just rephrasing the same question, "What keeps people from going around handing out fees and penalties as liberally as a retailer, bank, health professionals?" – knivez Aug 18 '15 at 19:33
  • This is a matter of contract law. To charge that fee, you'd need to make it part of the terms of tne transaction. Even if you can persuade them to accept this, the exact wording can be critical and you need a lawyer to tell you what might stand up to chalkenge in your area.... tl;dr: Unless you're writing a contract for an amount large enough that they'll put up with it, forget it. – keshlam Aug 18 '15 at 20:34
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What's the primary factor keeping a consumer from handing out fees as liberally as corporations or small businesses do?

Power.

Can an individual, or more appropriately, what keeps an individual from being able to charge, fine or penalize a Business? If it could be accomplished, but at a high cost, let's assume it's based on principal and not monetary gain.

And have a legal entitlement to money back? No. You are of course welcome to send your doctor a letter stating that you would like $50 to make up for your two hour wait last time around, but there's no legal obligation for him to pay up, unless he signed a contract stating that he would do so.

Corporations also cannot simply send you a fine or fee and expect you to pay it; you must have either agreed to pay it in the past, or now agree to pay it in exchange for something.

  • No-show fee: You agree to pay this when you make the appointment. It is usually a criteria of giving you the appointment. Many doctors make you sign something agreeing to it.
  • Restocking fee: Companies here agree to take a return that is not due to their own fault, in exchange for 85% of the amount paid - ie, a 15% restocking fee. You're not obligated to take it back, but neither are they. In circumstances where they are obligated to take it back (whether it is because of their fault, or consumer protection laws), these restocking fees may not be applicable (depending on the laws). Of course, you also likely agree to the restocking fee when you make the purchase.

In these cases, the corporations have the power: you have to agree to their rules to play ball.

However, consumers do have a significant power as well, in well-competed markets: the power to do business with someone else. You don't like the restocking fee? Buy from Amazon, which offers free shipping on returns. You don't like paying a no-show fee from the doctor? Find a doctor without one (or with a more forgiving fee), or with a low enough caseload that you don't have to make appointments early. Your ability to fine them exists as your ability to not continue to patronize them.

In some markets, though, consumers don't have a lot of power - for example, cable television (or other utilities). The FCC has a list of Customer Service Standards, which cable companies are required to meet, and many states have additional rules requiring penalties for missed or late appointments tougher than that.

And, in the case of the doctor, if your doctor is late - find one that is. Or, try sending him a bill. It does, apparently, work from time to time - particularly if the doctor wants to keep your business.

  • You said "Power", which brought to mind something that happened to me a few years back. I purchased a burrito from 7-11 one morning, got outside and opened it. It was covered in mold. I went back in and the cashier gave me some line about not being able to do a refund because a manager wasn't working. I informed her that I was more-or-less being robbed and I'd go ahead and help myself to something of equal value. – knivez Aug 18 '15 at 21:09
  • Being charged a restocking fee after the fact makes it worse, because my time has already been wasted. The restocking fee defense might be countered by claiming, "they sold me crap. I've wasted time with this." That line of thought may lead to justifying gutting a $800 laptop and returning a shell filled with lead [for example]. They never sign anything saying it was in the same condition... etc. Anyway, your answer was fine, I'm just branching off into examples and scenarios as to how & why someone exploit a system, and maybe legally justify it on a larger scale. Thanks. – knivez Aug 18 '15 at 21:25

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