Media in Trouble: All the news thats UNfit to print!: Acts of God...

"The information of the people at large can alone make them safe, as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom." --Thomas Jefferson 1810

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Acts of God...

I planned a camping trip for this glorious Memorial Day weekend. I planned on going with a bunch of friends and since I wanted to bring Sgt. Pepper along and the State Parks don't allow beagles (more from me on that here) we decided to camp at this place (whose name isn't even worth mentioning).

Now the campground charged me ahead of time for all 7 people who were supposed to go. At first I thought this was ok, but then people started cancelling and now the weather this week has been kinda poopy and perhaps will be poopier this weekend. Making mudd the primary substrate for all our activities. So the party has been reduced to 3 (Sgt. Pepper not included). I tried to cancel and was denied because I didn't give them 72 hours notice. I didn't ask for a refund I just wanted credit for future camping use.

The campground is explicit about its cancellation policy, so I won't argue the policy on its legal basis. Nay! My objective in this piece is to argue the ideology behind such legal protection of businesses from acts of god.

Owning a business is risky. It is inherant that anyone who goes into business for themselves assumes a certain ammount of risk. If you are in the camping business, you have to assume the risk of people not camping when it rains. As a business owner you have complete control over pricing, so you could assume a certain percentage of cancellation risk in your pricing. Hotels do this all the time. Hotels will allow you to cancel up to the day you are supposed to arrive in most cases.

Also this charging ahead of time is baloney as well. America is the only country in the world where you pay up front. Its bullshit. In the case of the campsite, I only asked for one campsite, apparently this campsite was big enough to accomodate my 7 person party and it is still going to be big enough to accomodate my 3 person party. So why charge me for extra people if there won't be any extra people? Why not charge me for however many people I show up with and however many people stay at the campsite after I check out of the campground?

SO MIT readers. Am I just insane? Should the person who cancels due to an act of god (as termed in legalese)? Or should a business which knows it is prone to divine interventions such as rainstorms etc. assume these costs as part of its cost of doing business? I think these costs should be absorbed by pricing of the services.

Think of the oil market and how it affects inflation. Somehow onions this month will be more expensive, not because onions are in short supply but because god (aka the free market, aka OPEC) has made the price of oil go up so that onions cost more to get a ride on a truck.