Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How can this be said? Tactfully.......

We have been thinking a lot lately about why consumer complaints to the Chief Judge seem to go nowhere. Two warnings in two years; one written; one verbal. It is an amazing set of statistics. Either there is great consumer contentment with their GALs and they are doing a near perfect job, or there is huge, bigoted, unfair "bad sportism" about GALs that has to be weeded out with "tough love". The stories we hear from many consumers suggest that more than 2 GALs have done bad things and should warrant some form of corrective action. What gives?

Then we started to dig a bit. Who creates GALs? Who trains them? Who has worked with them in the courts? Who has worked with GALs in the legislature? Who acts on consumer complaints about GALs? As they say, "Three guesses and the first two don't count." It is analogous to asking the Director of General Motors to deal with consumer complaints about Chevrolets. Sure he knows a lot about Chevrolets, but how on earth can he keep his judgment fair, and avoid it being tainted by pride in his "product".

It is an amazing example of asking the manufacturer be exclusively in charge of consumer's rights, protection and consumer's complaints. How is the judge in this role to avoid a rampant perception of all consumer's complaints as evidence of consumers being "bad sports"? And ... viewing these consumer's complaints as a sort of temper tantrums? It leads to a "tough love" handling of perceived tantrums. It leads to minimal instruction/help in how to do a complaint, no identification of criteria for a complaint, no consumers at hearings. It leads to consumer unfriendliness in the final response. These responses are becoming notorious: terse one line responses to consumers after their complaint has been dismissed and they have poured their hearts out about lives that have been wounded by a GAL.

We sense that it is the pride of the "manufacturer" in his product that gets in the way of consumer protection. The manufacturer is a GAL's best friend!

Other states are moving the consumer complaint process away from the office of the manufacturer. We need to too.


  1. It looks like there is no consumer protection and lots of GAL protection, yet consumers can be forced by the courts to pay for this defective product.

  2. Thank you for your comment. There is 'consumer protection' in theory. In practice it is anything but. The consumer has to move mountains to prove that a GAL has been deficient in their role. We have seen GALs hide behind the protection that they have to avoid being reprimanded. You are also correct in stating that consumers are often forced to pay for the substandard service these GALs give.

  3. To get "consumer protection" you have to persuade the "protection" that you are not whining and that the GALs he has licensed and trained and set out upon the world are malpracticeing. You might as well complain about his wife and kids committing felonies.

  4. I wonder what the GAL complaint was like that got a verbal reprimand? It must have been serious!!! And the written reprimand must have been for major crime? Do these actions get posted anywhere for the public? It would give consumers warning.

    1. It is not know whether or not that information is posted on the JB website - or anywhere for that matter. It is doubtful that it is. It would be helpful for the public if it were and would offer a lo/no cost form of oversight.

  5. Still want my rights as a citizen to supersede those as a consumer. Courts are designed expressly to secure my citizenry, as opposed to my right to consume.

    Consumers make the choice to consume. Our position in these courts is as citizens before the law, not shoppers.

    This puts the onus squarely on the court to behave like a court, not a producer or provider. Big. Difference.

  6. We're talking GALs not courts. Because we purchase and contract for GAL services on a private basis, we are consumers of those services. A buyer is a consumer. Regarding the courts in Maine, they have (unofficially) delegated their hearing responsibility to GALs. What the GAL says almost always holds in court.

    Because courts appoint GALs, they are offering consumers a service product with no quality assurance, no protection.