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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Are people generally liars? (Page 0)

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Author Topic: Are people generally liars?
Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Noemon:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
They had god snacks at a good price, and I bought food there rather than brining it in.

Wait--are we talking about communion wafers here, or are we talking about ambrosia (and if it's the latter, do they have nectar on tap)?
LOL.....darn typo's, and the people who catch them....


Rakeesh, this conversation has talked about the difference between eating food you bring in and simply walking in without paying, as well as what constitutes theft. I was simply saying where the line is drawn for me on this subject.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Even if the theater says, "We ask that you don't eat outside food in our theaters," without having any sort of enforcement that overrides an individual's rights against unlawful searches?
Actually, if the sign says, "We ask..." then it's a mere request, not an element of an agreement.

quote:
And despite not having big clear signs up, everyone is agreeing not to.
Moreover, knowing that this is a theater's preference is NOT the same as agreeing to it - especially when theaters very often do not enforce their preference.

quote:
That's why we sneak food into movie theaters, and don't bring a cooler.
Actually, as I've already said at least once, I carry food openly into theaters quite often. I usually carry stuff in they don't sell there, and often that's something with chocolate or ice cream in it. Pockets + ice cream sandwich = teh suxorz.
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TL
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Mucus, if you have a history of calling fellow hatrackers liars when they tell you what they were thinking when they wrote a certain thing, or when they attempt to clarify a certain point they'd gotten across a little wrong-headedly at first -- I'm not aware of it. Or at least I wasn't aware of it until now.

I guess I now have a better idea of what to expect from you, and I will adjust my future interactions with you accordingly.

You don't know what's in my head, and your insistence that I mean what you say I mean, rather than what I say I mean, is just absolutely infuriating... You may consider me to have been successfully trolled. [Frown] Let's move on with our lives. Good job.

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katharina
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I looked up a description of "Chaotic Good" and I emphatically agree with it. I try to be good, but I don't consider Other People's Rules to create a moral obligation in me. I'll decide if they are good and follow accordingly.

I probably "get away" with a lot as a result, but this does come back to bite me. Mostly because I disagree with parking tickets. The City of Alexandria is harsh. Texas is not. Then again, this is the state that came up with $2000 traffic tickets. Friggin avaricious nanny state.

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Rakeesh
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Well, OK then Dag, "By purchasing this ticket you agree to...", let's say that sign is up there. I do agree that if the sign says 'request' or 'ask' or something, it's not the same.

I missed where you said you carry food openly into theaters, my mistake. But I think you'll have to agree that you're in a very small minority in that area.

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JennaDean
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
I wanted to comment on something back on the beginning of the first page but got caught up in the movie theater thing. I thought Samp's post on little white lies was interesting. On one hand, I wonder what life would be like if literally no one lied and we always told the truth 100% of the time. I use lies that have no real consequence all the time, like when someone asks me if something bothers me and I say no when it does to be polite, or I lie if someone asks me if I want to do something and I say no but fudge the reason why. Lies like that are like grease on the skids of life. I don't think they are necessary for a functional society, but I think they're mostly harmless enough and they make nearly everyone happier. I like honesty, and sometimes I think lying like that can actually be harmful, though the only specific instances I can think of involve romantic relationships and how lies can actually lead to a lot of disappointment and pain down the road. But I consider that a separate category.

Read "The Truth Machine" by James L Halperin.
I just finished reading "The Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs. He tried for a year to live literally every single commandment and teaching of the Bible. It drove his wife crazy when he had to be completely honest all the time. He couldn't tell "white lies" to their toddler anymore to get him to do what they wanted, had to tell the complete truth, and the toddler would go into a meltdown. When new friends said they ought to go out sometime, and he had no intention of going, he had to say so and made everyone feel awkward.

I had no idea how much I lied until I read that book.

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Threads
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TL, you never explained how you intended it to be taken. Most people consider lying to be immoral so most people will be offended if you call them a liar. This is especially true when you use an unconventional definition of dishonesty (namely, that you can be dishonest without entering into a verbal or written agreement).

Furthermore, your posts seemed hostile towards not just the idea of sneaking food into theaters but also towards people who do so.

Ex:
quote:
It goes without saying, I'm sure -- but sneaking in food to movie theaters has basically the same effect as shoplifting; the business has to charge everyone else more to offset the cost of your dishonesty.

I always get aggravated when this subject comes up, because people just flat-out, with no evidence to the contrary, simply refuse to believe the truth. Or they choose to deny it so they can continue to keep up the self-justification.

You did point out that there are exceptions where dishonesty is not necessarily bad but you didn't comment on whether or not those exceptions applied to sneaking food into movie theaters. That would have been an easy way to clear up this nonsense.
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Glenn Arnold
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Dag,

I went to a theater tonight and there was a big sign directly over the ticket counter that said "outside food and drink not allowed in theater." (Also, tickets at this theater are usually $2. Tuesdays is dollar night.)

From what I've read, your position is purely based on your own experience, in which the sign is not posted so that it can be seen before you purchase your tickets. What would your take on this theater be?

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Mucus
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TL:
I'm a little lost. If it is indeed your assertion that there is nothing immoral about a label of dishonesty, then you seem to be rather upset about me even implying to someone else that you may have believed something other than what you wrote. Especially, if you consider that I explicitly said "intended/intends" which perfectly covers you changing your mind or being "wrong-headedly."

Also, keep in mind that I have noted early in the thread that I agree with the general notion that "most people are generally liars" and have noted many examples of perfectly moral lying. I think I can accurately label 90%+ of Hatrackers as liars. (and this is not a moral judgment [Wink] )

However, if playing the victim and considering yourself as being trolled gives you personal satisfaction, far be it for me to take that from you.

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BannaOj
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
No. My objection is to the idea that a business's policies creates moral obligations in others to follow those policies as a general matter.

Those policies can create moral obligations, but something other than their mere existence and publication is required. For example, a request to leave coupled with a ticket refund creates a moral obligation to leave in most circumstances. So does agreement with the policy during contract formation. In each case, something beyond a statement of the policy is needed to create that obligation.

I don't quite get it. If the law gives businesses the right to control the bringing of food on their premises, and the business chooses to exercise that right, and clearly state that outside food is not allowed on the premises, then if you bring outside food into that business, you are breaking the law. If they attempt a private search, then they are breaking the law too. But if the food is openly visible then they have no need to conduct said search in order to determine that you are breaking the law.

To me, the moral obligation is not to break the law. I'm not Chaotic Good, because even though I do speed, I feel guilty about doing so.

Dagonee, I'm sorry, I'm sure I'm missing some nuance of what you are saying, I don't mean to be dense. Please tell me where the flaw is in my train of argument, because my brain is out of practice with these sorts of conversations.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by BannaOj:
quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
No. My objection is to the idea that a business's policies creates moral obligations in others to follow those policies as a general matter.

Those policies can create moral obligations, but something other than their mere existence and publication is required. For example, a request to leave coupled with a ticket refund creates a moral obligation to leave in most circumstances. So does agreement with the policy during contract formation. In each case, something beyond a statement of the policy is needed to create that obligation.

I don't quite get it. If the law gives businesses the right to control the bringing of food on their premises, and the business chooses to exercise that right, and clearly state that outside food is not allowed on the premises, then if you bring outside food into that business, you are breaking the law. If they attempt a private search, then they are breaking the law too. But if the food is openly visible then they have no need to conduct said search in order to determine that you are breaking the law.

To me, the moral obligation is not to break the law. I'm not Chaotic Good, because even though I do speed, I feel guilty about doing so.

Dagonee, I'm sorry, I'm sure I'm missing some nuance of what you are saying, I don't mean to be dense. Please tell me where the flaw is in my train of argument, because my brain is out of practice with these sorts of conversations.

Bringing food into a business which prohibits such action via a policy which they are allowed to enforce legally is NOT the same thing as breaking a law.

I'm trying to think of an analogy...having a hard time. I give up.

The businesses' rights are about choosing to do business with people and permitting a use of their property. Those rights are not "laws" which can be broken.

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TL
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Threads, your point is well-taken. I consider the act of intentionally sneaking food into a movie theater when you know it is not permitted to be an innate act of dishonesty, in and of itself, with no other qualifiers; it is simply a dishonest act.

I am neutral, and always have been, on the question of the morality of this activity. I never intended to make any moral judgements, and was surprised when the topic came up -- simply because morality, as an issue, wasn't on my mind at the time of my ranting, and it still isn't.

I did come at the topic with too much passion in the beginning, but that doesn't mean I said anything that I now think is untrue. Just that I didn't probably say it with very much tact. For example, "self-justification" was probably the wrong hyphenate. At the time I wrote that, I did not suspect that the issue of whether or not the act was dishonest would be the subject of controversy; I assumed we would all agree that it was.... I don't suppose that you must necessarily self-justify an act you don't consider to be dishonest.

Mucus, it does not provide me with a sense of personal satisfation to "play the victim"; when one feels that they have been victimized, one rarely feels good about it. Your refusal to accept any meaning other than the one you imagine is not a failing on my part, nor does it represent a changing of my position. I am doing my best to engage, clarify, converse; sometimes I don't communicate the shades of meaning I intend, and so I reserve the right to explain myself later on. I think everyone hits against this issue from time-to-time, and it works better if we give each other the benefit of the doubt.

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Dagonee
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quote:
If the law gives businesses the right to control the bringing of food on their premises, and the business chooses to exercise that right, and clearly state that outside food is not allowed on the premises, then if you bring outside food into that business, you are breaking the law.
Actually, this is simply not true. One is usually not "breaking the law" by violating a sign posted by a private party (there are some exceptions). Failing to leave when asked is usually breaking the law, whether there was a sign up or not. Of course, if there wasn't a sign, making a person leave might be a breach of contract, which I wouldn't characterize as breaking the law, either.

quote:
Dagonee, I'm sorry, I'm sure I'm missing some nuance of what you are saying, I don't mean to be dense. Please tell me where the flaw is in my train of argument, because my brain is out of practice with these sorts of conversations.
I'm pretty sure it's not you - I think I've left out a crucial step somewhere (really, just assumed it), and I don't know quite how to clarify at this point.

It's related to a question of moral dominion. A person visiting a private place incurs moral obligations to follow the host's rules. In some sense, the host's wishes create a moral dominion over the guest. This dominion extends pretty far.

The same is true of businesses who open to the public. But the extent of that dominion is significantly less than the moral dominion extended over guests to private homes.

One common dominion is the right of exclusion. With few exceptions, one has a moral obligation to leave another's property upon request of that other. This gives a business a means to enforce its wishes that are not part of the moral dominion it extends. But that's different than creating a moral obligation in the visitor not act against those desires.

The formation of a contract - and here, I mean a legally binding promise, whether written or not - can also extend one's moral obligations. In general, I think it's wrong to take advantage of "loopholes" in the law that allow one to break a promise with no legal repercussions. But, when dealing with a business - especially one represented by counsel - the ground rules of mutual expectation are those technicalities surrounding contract formation. In fact, many businesses get away with things consumers consider wrong because of those ground rules. That's the playing field, and I use those rules as a guideline for deciding whether the moral dominion has been extended.

Note that this whole argument assumes that there is a moral dominion that exists to visitors to businesses that is not created by action of law. A small example: it's still wrong to lie to a business, even if that lie does not amount to actionable fraud.

I'm aware I've left undefined the idea of moral dominion and haven't justified the reason for the difference. Just realize I haven't attempted to do either in this post. If I can think of a way to express it later, I will. In the meantime, I'm aware of the impact this has on how convincing my argument is.

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Kwea
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TL, to be honest Mucas hasn't really seemed to go after you. You two may disagree, but that is fine.

I honestly thought that you WERE discussing morality, as questioning peoples honesty is in and of itself a moral judgment most of the time. I understand your clarifications, and as we have not had any bad exchanges in the past I don't have any issues with them....we have all tried to clarify position before, and it is hard to do so without looking like a flip-flopper.

Just ask John Kerry. [Wink]


But you also didn't call me out specifically. I am far more likely to listen to your arguments now, while we discuss things rationally, than I was at the beginning of the thread when you came across angry, confrontational and judgmental.


BannaOJ, just because someone has a right to exclude something within the framework of the law doesn't mean refusing to follow their wishes against the law. They may have the right to ask you to leave, and will be within their rights to do so, but bringing the food in is not against the law, merely against their wishes. There is no law saying "No food".

That is one of the significant differences between the movie example and retail companies insisting they have the right to check your receipts at the door as you leave. There IS a law regarding unreasonable searches and seizures. The way they get around this is to challenge people directly, and most people allow them to do it. By allowing them you waive your rights, and no law has been broken.

If you keep walking and they physically stop you (which has happened to me twice) then they HAVE broken a law....perhaps more than one. As long as you are NOT a thief they are screwed. I asked for the police the last time, and then filed a police report against the store, because of course they found I had payed for everything.

[Smile]

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BannaOj
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Dagonee, I need to re-read your post a couple more times, but what you clarified definitely helps me see where you are coming from. I don't know whether I agree or not yet, but it helped.

On the search and seizure thing. I was mulling over Costco. Since it is a private membership-only club, do you waive your right when you join? Admittedly they *only* check the stuff in your cart, and it is always for additions rather than ommissions, but that seems like it might be a fuzzier line on the search and seizure thing too.

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scifibum
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Try breezing by the person checking your stuff at Costco, see what happens. I'll bet they'll notice and try to get you to stop, but won't physically restrain you. Do it frequently enough and they might decide they don't want you as a member anymore and stop letting you go inside the store. [Smile]
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Dagonee
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quote:
Since it is a private membership-only club, do you waive your right when you join?
When I joined up at a similar store, my contract specified agreeing to the receipt check/search at the door.
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Kwea
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It would completely depend on the membership agreement you signed. But even so, refusing to allow them to do so isn't breaking the law. It COULD be a violation of the membership agreement, but their only recourse at that point would be to either call the police...and if they are wrong they are screwed....or revoke their membership.

I don't have an issue with BJ's or CostCo doing it as I agreed to it when I joined...but even then I have a finite amount of time I am willing to wait.

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Try breezing by the person checking your stuff at Costco, see what happens. I'll bet they'll notice and try to get you to stop, but won't physically restrain you. Do it frequently enough and they might decide they don't want you as a member anymore and stop letting you go inside the store. [Smile]

On multiple occasions Best Buy customers have been physically restrained for refusing to show their receipt.

http://www.die.net/musings/bestbuy/

There was another recent case where the police actually came to the scene and, as I recall, arrested the shopper for also refusing to show ID to the police, but I'm having trouble googling that one right now.

Also, Home Depot: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/02/27/home-depot-customer.html

EDIT: Found the case with the arrest. It was Circuit City, not Best Buy. http://www.michaelrighi.com/2007/09/01/arrested-at-circuit-city/

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Kwea
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As a retail manager, trust me...this could complicate things, but you do NOT have to stop. None of the stores want you to know that though.


Once the police are there I would produce my ID, because the reason I need them there is to verify both that I was stopped without cause and to verify the contents of my bag to prove that I didn't steal anything.


I will need that statement from the police officer as evidence for my police report, and for my court case.

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scifibum
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That is some interesting reading, MattP. All the sources seem to be in agreement that bag checks are voluntary and detaining someone solely for refusing to comply with the bag check is illegal (according also with what Kwea says).

Mayhaps I'll try to exercise my right to leave without a search one of these days. It'll have to be at a time when I'm feeling less stress generally, though, as it looks like it can turn into quite a circus.

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manji
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Don't forget about this one:

http://www.bwcitypaper.com/1editorialbody.lasso?-token.folder=2006-11-16&-token.story=179621.112112&-nothing

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Audeo
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It's not true everywhere that the merchant can't search your belongings. I used to live near Idaho, and when we went to the mall across the state line (in Idaho) there were signs to the effect that the merchant (or his agent) could detain you if the suspected you had shoplifted. I searched Google and found the relevant section of Idaho state law
quote:
48-704. AUTHORIZED ACTIONS OF MERCHANTS. (a) Any merchant may request a
person on his premises to place or keep in full view any merchandise such
person may have removed, or which the merchant has reason to believe he may
have removed, from its place of display or elsewhere, whether for examination,
purchase or for any other purpose. No merchant shall be criminally or civilly
liable on account of having made such a request.

This gives the merchant the right to search through your stuff to make sure it isn't stolen.
quote:
(b) Any merchant who has reason to believe that merchandise has been
taken by a person in violation of this act and that he can recover such
merchandise by taking such a person into custody and detaining him may, for
the purpose of attempting to effect such recovery or for the purpose of
informing a peace officer of the circumstances of such detention, take the
person into custody and detain him, in a reasonable manner and for a
reasonable length of time.

And this gives them the right to hold you if they suspect you.

I always wondered if these laws held up constitutionally, but they are still laws in that state.

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Dagonee
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(a) doesn't say that the customer has to comply with the request. (b) only applies when the merchant has "reason to believe" (which I bet has to be something akin to "probable cause") that the person has stolen something. Refusal to comply with the request doesn't give rise to a reason to believe that shoplifting has occurred.

My big objection to receipt checking is that, if mandatory, it allows a store to detain you (not letting you leave until the receipt is checked) AFTER you have already taken ownership of your goods.

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Seatarsprayan
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I don't mind having the cart checked at Costco, because I agreed to that when I joined.

I do mind everywhere else and I regret now I ever used to let people stop me. Of course now I'm older and probably look less thiefish so no one does stop me anyway.

I never buy food at the theatre. Too expensive. I used to bring it in, in my pockets, and justified it by (1) knowing I was *never* going to buy it no matter what and (2) not leaving any trash.

Which brings me to question how many food-bringers really never buy food vs. would buy it if the alternative was hunger? Because on those people, failing to enforce a no-outside-food rule *would* result in the theatre losing money.

Furthermore, anyone who brings in outside food and leaves a crumb of it on the floor is making them pay people to clean up after them, so that's pretty lame.

Of course I also wonder if movie patrons weren't such slobs if they could save enough on cleaning staff to lower the cost of the food somewhat. Perhaps all along its the moviegoer's fault stuff is so expensive; they are the ones leaving their trash and spilling their popcorn!

As an aside, I HATE it when people come in to clean the theatre for the next showing and the movie isn't over. The credits are part of the movie. Sometimes there is even another scene after the credits. I don't appreciate the noise and distraction. I feel much more ripped off by that than by the $4.50 Junior Mints.

I wouldn't mind a dining/nondining ticket to openly bring in food, while it would only cost me, since I don't leave a mess anyway, it would fairly compensate for the cleanup the theatre has to perform.

I personally don't take food at all anymore, I just learned to do without it. Apart from candy the food they serve there isn't stuff I would want to eat anyway.

I do dislike the "cheap ticket to get them in, then hike up the prices once they're here" mentality. I hate surcharges and stuff because they're always dishonest. Just tell me the real price! It's an attempt to make people think things are cheaper than they are. It's just leverage, and I hate it.

Can you imagine if other businesses tried what movie theatres do though? Supposed Microsoft sold their Office software for $10 per CD, and after you paid for it, informed you that you could only use Microsoft Tech Support, which cost $50 per call. You can do without tech support, if you want, but if you get into trouble you can't get a local computer repair guy or ask your neighbor's son that knows all about computers, no. That is Outside Tech Support and is Forbidden...

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fugu13
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I know that 'reason to believe' has been interpreted, at least in the policies of many stores, to mean 'saw someone take it off the shelf and then physically leave the store with it, never letting him or her out of sight'.
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Dagonee
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quote:
I know that 'reason to believe' has been interpreted, at least in the policies of many stores, to mean 'saw someone take it off the shelf and then physically leave the store with it, never letting him or her out of sight'.
That's well beyond probable cause. It doesn't surprise me that some (maybe even most) stores have a policy that errs on the side of searching fewer customers than they legally could.

I wonder what the constitutionality of a law that authorized detention or search on less than probable cause would be? It would be an interesting research problem.

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MattP
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quote:
Furthermore, anyone who brings in outside food and leaves a crumb of it on the floor is making them pay people to clean up after them, so that's pretty lame.
I worked at a theater for several years and the staff that clean the theaters are very efficient. The presence of outside food was rarely a significant factor in clean-up time. One messy patron with a official movie theater tub of popcorn could create a lot more mess than the family that brought in Subway sandwiches.
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scifibum
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<tangent> I got fooled on the Dark Knight thread (fie upon ye pranksters) and thought there was a stinger at the end of the movie so I was staying through the end. Apparently at this theater the cleanup crew has been instructed to stand to the side and wait until all the patrons are out before cleaning up - but it didn't help much. They talked and even announced loudly that "there's nothing after the credits" and then audibly made fun of the few of us who stayed to the end of the credits as we were walking out. It was pretty harmless, not to the level of something I felt the need to talk to the manager about, but still, I'd have preferred them to be working, quietly cleaning up, instead of loitering and talking and not working. </tangent>

On the subject of escalating receipt checks or requests to check bags into detention: I think the problem is as much with people that enjoy petty tyranny as it is with store policies. It's clear from some of the stories MattP and manji linked above that door watchers sometimes get off on power trips.

I see this all the time in ostensibly customer service-oriented positions: company reps who think the company's policies bestow some kind of prestige and power upon them, the Grand Peons who get to tell the customer "no" or "this is what you have to do." It baffles me sometimes that the mid-level management fosters and reinforces the little tyrannies of customer support in many cases - my point of view is that if you want to deal with a customer, you should never, ever be less than polite. And if you don't want to deal with a customer, cut the interaction off. Don't deal with them. Don't make an attempt to lord it over them, with the magic words of "policy" and "process" and, worst, "fair."

The weirdest thing, IMO, is how reluctant businesses are to say "no, because we won't make any money that way." Why is it a secret that they are trying to make money, and the reason they can't/won't do what the customer wants is because it's too costly? I think honest answers like that would be far preferable to pointing out "our policy is that we can't accept returns after 30 days, even though you didn't open the package."

</rant>


And yes, I know my parenthetical HTML is poorly formed and doesn't conform to any specification. [Razz]

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Kwea
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If the company does detain you because of suspected shoplifting, you CAN sue for damages in civil court as they have just slandered you by accusing you of theft. I doubt that state law would hold up, to be honest, as a person's individual rights take precedence.
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imogen
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
(Also, tickets at this theater are usually $2. Tuesdays is dollar night.)

$2??? No wonder they have to rely on food profits.

Tickets here are usually around $14-$16. Cheap tickets are about $9.

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Amanecer
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I work at an insurance brokerage firm that does benefits for large corporations. One of our clients is going through a dependent audit which means they're verifying that everybody that's claimed as a dependent on the medical plan is eligible to claimed as a dependent. It is amazing to me how blatantly people lie. We found several hundred false dependents. Several people claimed non-dependent relatives (such as cousins) or friends as being their children. One man even claimed his mother as his spouse. We discovered that over the past 18 months, these people have cost the company over a million dollars in medical claims. How people can justify that amazes me.
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TL
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quote:
I do dislike the "cheap ticket to get them in, then hike up the prices once they're here" mentality. I hate surcharges and stuff because they're always dishonest. Just tell me the real price! It's an attempt to make people think things are cheaper than they are. It's just leverage, and I hate it.
Well... but... did you understand that the studios take a percentage of every ticket sold, close to 90%? So there is no way -- there is no existing mechanism -- by which a movie theater could charge enough for the ticket to cover the costs of its operation. If a movie theater has to bring in $3.00 per customer to continue to operate, they would have to charge $30.00 for a ticket that actually covered the cost of providing the service to that customer.

Would everyone rather see movie theaters charging $30.00 for a ticket, or $4.00 for a large drink and $6.00 for a large popcorn, with everyone having the option to choose which products they want to buy, if any?

I suspect almost everyone would choose, under this scenario (which is the current reality), to let the theater sell the optional-but-expensive snacks, rather than $30.00 tickets.

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Mucus
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Assuming they're non-elective, medical claims can be pretty easy to justify [Wink]
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steven
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I was once detained for roughly 15-20 minutes at a local redneck Wal-Mart for stealing knives. There were at least 4-5 cops in the room, repeatedly telling me to confess, and telling me it would go easier if I did. They said they had me on videotape stealing the knives. I emptied my pockets. No knives. I let them search my car. No knives. I didn't steal the knives. I'm not even sure any knives got stolen that day. Their sole "evidence" was that a Wal-mart employee had seen me in the bathroom supposedly disposing of the knife cases. My toothbrush and toothbrush case fall out of my pants pocket as I am using the bathroom, and the guy decides that's a knife case? Whatever. Wal-mart went to Hades when the old man died, and his daughter is doing her level best to totally crap it up.

When did local sherriff's deputies start providing store security, anyway?

On an unrelated note, I got the Forsyth County deputies kicked out of their security jobs at Forsyth Tech for taking my student ID and making me leave campus. They did it because they didn't recognize me. Seriously, we've got some extra-dumb cops around here, it seems to me. LOL

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Tatiana
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I totally think business people will make up unlimited numbers of arbitrary self-serving customer-ripping-off rules if we let them. Customers who follow those rules just encourage them to make more. I completely support people who sneak food in to avoid paying exorbitant prices for cheap unhealthy junk food in parks, festivals, and theaters.

Our local music festival this year had the double policies of no pass outs, and no food or even water allowed to be brought in. This combined with the level of fare available inside, and the prices of both the entry tickets and the concessions, left me feeling completely ripped off. I'll never go again.

The first rule of capitalism is don't make your customers angry. Business managers are not being capitalists by sticking to their silly rules, they're just being foolish. I expect they'll follow the long tradition of companies who anger their customers and then go out of business. That's what makes capitalism great... all the poorly run companies end up going out of business. That's the only reason we have scores of excellent businesses to choose from in our society. It's harsh but it works. =)

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Enigmatic
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quote:
my point of view is that if you want to deal with a customer, you should never, ever be less than polite. And if you don't want to deal with a customer, cut the interaction off.
And if you are answering phones in a customer service call center, how exactly do you "cut the interaction off" without being less than polite? Hanging up on customers is severely frowned upon, both by the managers and the angry customers who call back a second later.

--Enigmatic

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quidscribis
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Get a different job.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by TL:
quote:
I do dislike the "cheap ticket to get them in, then hike up the prices once they're here" mentality. I hate surcharges and stuff because they're always dishonest. Just tell me the real price! It's an attempt to make people think things are cheaper than they are. It's just leverage, and I hate it.
Well... but... did you understand that the studios take a percentage of every ticket sold, close to 90%? So there is no way -- there is no existing mechanism -- by which a movie theater could charge enough for the ticket to cover the costs of its operation. If a movie theater has to bring in $3.00 per customer to continue to operate, they would have to charge $30.00 for a ticket that actually covered the cost of providing the service to that customer.

Would everyone rather see movie theaters charging $30.00 for a ticket, or $4.00 for a large drink and $6.00 for a large popcorn, with everyone having the option to choose which products they want to buy, if any?

I suspect almost everyone would choose, under this scenario (which is the current reality), to let the theater sell the optional-but-expensive snacks, rather than $30.00 tickets.

That's just ridiculous. Studios can't make money unless theaters show their movies. They should renegotiate the entire structure of ticket sales and what percentage they get. I think it's fair that they get a big percentage of sales, but I think there should be a cut off point at which they stop collecting, and every dollar charged over that cutoff point goes to the theater. Then they will be free to raise rates as they see fit in order to get what they need to make a profit without ripping people off at the concession stand.

They should all band together and change the way it's structured. What are studios going to do about it, not let ALL the theaters show their movies?

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fugu13
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Yeah, because that wouldn't be a huge potential violation of anti-trust law.

Not to mention, think about that cost structure for a second. If the amount of money studios can make on a movie is capped at a much lower level than before, there's no incentive to make movies that make more than that.

Why on earth would studios agree to a pricing structure that guarantees the only movies they have that make a lot of money can't make a lot of money? Why on earth would theaters argue for a pricing structure that gets rid of the blockbusters they sell the most concessions during in exchange for a cut of higher revenue the studios have little incentive to create?

Your idea would be disastrous for the movie industry. While not all pricing structures that win out competitively are optimal, there are often simple, logical reasons for them that are surprisingly hard to overcome with other approaches.

Especially when you see things requiring collective action, where even a single dissenter would have a huge advantage over the collective. Imagine if all theater chains make this offer. A theater chain that agreed to go without a cap could probably get a slightly higher percentage of total sales, and if the other theater chains continued to hold out, they'd have a hard time getting blockbusters (the movie studios would probably give them to them a bit later).

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katharina
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The percentage that the movie theatres take changes the longer the run is. The first weekend, they get 5% of the money brought in. By the time it is the eight weekend, they are getting maybe 20%.

This is part of why movie studios are gearing everything towards the big opening weekend. It makes a difference to the studio if a movie take one week or five weeks to earn 100 million dollars - if it is one week, they get almost all the money. If it is five weeks, then not even close.

Less than 10% of movie patrons buy concessions. The REAL source of revenue for movie theatres are the ADS. Which I hate. That's part of my lack of sympathy - they didn't ask me if they could sell my eyeballs to the local car salesman. I am not going to get their permission to bring in a box of candy.

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Lyrhawn
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fugu -

Charging $11 for a ticket instead of $9, for example would be disastrous for the movie industry?

You're going to have to elaborate on that one.

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fugu13
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First, I'm not sure what way it would be an advantage for consumers to have to pay $2 more for tickets. If the point is a better situation for consumers, why would we want theaters to charge more, unless people like the resulting situation at least as much more as they're paying?

Second, you're completely ignoring what I pointed out about the structure of the incentives. If movie studios cannot make more than $X per film (only so many theaters to show it, a cap on how much each theater will give them), where's the incentive to make movies that make more money? Theaters certainly seem to view the blockbuster movies as big profit opportunities: they're who're driving things like midnight showings. Why on earth would theaters band together to implement a pricing structure that makes movie studios less likely to make blockbusters?

Heck, you ignored several other points. I'll take a look later and see if you've responded to any of them.

edit: I might have misunderstood, you might have meant a cutoff point per ticket. As for that, I suspect the sum total of change you would see in how movie theaters price tickets is . . . around $0, overall. Movie theaters are setting ticket prices to be competitive with other movie theaters and available sources of recreation, in order to draw people in to eat their food and view their ads. If a theater decided to, say, charge a little more and forgo those sources of revenue, I suspect they would see a significant drop in revenue, because that's pretty much how it works in every industry. In some markets there are probably niches for theaters that have fewer ads/charge more for tickets, but they won't be large enough for most movie theaters.

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Lyrhawn
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Yes I did, because I have no idea how they are applicable to my idea. Currently if a theater charges $10 for a movie, $9 of that goes to the studio. I'm saying cap the amount they take a cut from at $10, and allow the theater to charge another dollar or two that only they get. Studios don't lose a penny, and theaters get more money.

If you want to try that again, I'll take a look later.

Edit to add (to address your editing): The theater I go to locally has the cheapest price around for a first run movie, and they allow outside food and drink. I was at the theater this past weekend with a friend of mine who used to work there. When she stopped to talk to the manager for a minute, I jumped in and asked what sort of drop off they'd had in sales since they changed their prices and allowed outside food, and the manager said they're actually making a bit more now, but that it's hard to tell if that is because of the change in policy or because of this year's crop of movies. So take it with a grain of salt I guess, but the current business model isn't necessarily the best.

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fugu13
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See my edit above. The increased costs to consumers point in my post immediately above is also quite relevant. Also, you didn't deal with it being an antitrust violation to try to do that collectively (and the reason we have antitrust laws is to protect consumers against actions that reduce competition in the marketplace, such as things that would raise rates to no particular advantage to consumers -- if theaters all did it successfully, then they could still show ads and forbid food, while charging more, and the only ones who would be better off would be the theaters).
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fugu13
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See where I said exactly that the existing business model isn't necessarily the best, but is often harder to work around than it seems. Note that the theater you mentioned is still paying the same percentage for each show.

If I could ask a question, I'd ask about attendance. I suspect they're seeing more attendance because they're cheaper, now (both up front and effectively, with the food thing). Now imagine every theater in the area adopted the same prices and policies.

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fugu13
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Btw, that's related to the low price guarantee phenomenon. There's a simple game one can look at, where there are two kinds of people: some always go where the price is lowest (equally to all places with the lowest price), and some go to a place at random. If there are two stores in competition, each can (effectively) choose to offer a normal price, or a low price. If both offer the low price, they make very little money. If both offer the normal price, they both make a decent bit more money. If one offers the low price and one offers the normal price, the one offering the low price makes a lot of money, and the one offering the normal price makes more money than they would if both offered the lower price, and less money than they would if both offered the normal price.

More complex versions of that game have been found to be good explanations for the 'low price guarantee' phenomenon. If a store can cement in people's minds that they'll always be the lower cost place, then they can make a lot of money, and other stores will have no incentive to try to compete on price . . . because the best they can do, assuming the 'low cost guarantee' place stays low cost, is make less money than they are charging more normal prices.

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Lyrhawn
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If the theaters can charge more at the door to make up for concession costs and ads, then there will be a theater out there that can charge reasonable prices for their concessions and show movies without ads, which customers will find appealing and they could choose to frequent that establishment over the one with the jacked up prices and the annoying slew of ads before the movie.

It changes the competition, it doesn't eliminate it.

I think without surveying each moviegoer to ask about why they went to any specific theater, you'll never get a straight answer to most of these questions just by looking at sales. There's no way to tell if they stop going to the theater just because the movies suck or because of theater related factors.

Personally I don't have much of a stake in this, as I love my theater and their policies. It's not the nicest theater in town, for that I have to pay twice as much and forgo the snacks, but it's good enough, and it's a great deal. But I imagine some day when I no longer have access to that theater I'm going to grumble a lot about regular theaters, and I don't think the current scheme is fair to everyone. I guess it works, otherwise all the theaters would close down, but I still think it's stupid.

As far as the pricing goes, I think you might be overvaluing the effect of a dollar here or there for most people. Chances are if my local theater starts charging a dollar more because they get to keep that dollar from everyone, I'm not going to jump ship and go elsewhere because that involves driving an extra five or six miles. It's convenience as much as anything. If they really jack the price up and are the only ones to do so, yeah, that'd effect my choices, though it might be mitigated by a corresponding drop in concession stand pricing. People take a rise or drop of a dollar or so pretty much in stride for a movie ticket. Someone on here said they regularly pay something like $14 for a movie ticket, which is outrageous around here, but if you're used to something in the ballpark of that figure, you grin and bear it. Never in my life have I had a conversation with anyone I've been to a movie with where we decided to go somewhere else because it was 50 cents or a dollar cheaper if the places were equidistant and the concessions were cheaper at the higher priced ticket place.

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JennaDean
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That's a point.

I guess you'd have to call me converted ... if the choice is to have high concession prices or raise ticket prices, I'll take the high concession prices. I can deal with going to the movies and just not eating for a few hours. But if they raise ticket prices enough, they might not even get me through the door at all. When they're competing with better and better home-movie systems, I guess they've got to make it relatively cheap to get us through the door. Then there's always the chance that we might spend more once we're in there (but I don't, we never buy snacks, so they're certainly not getting their money's worth off of me). I guess that's the gamble they have to take to stay in business. It would work better if their offerings were more tempting.

Ticket prices have already gone up so much in the last few years that I only go to the movies about 2-3 times a year anyway, and we only take the whole family maybe once a year - or less. But there are still some movies that just have to be seen on the big screen, so I hope they can find a way to keep the theaters open.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Enigmatic:
quote:
my point of view is that if you want to deal with a customer, you should never, ever be less than polite. And if you don't want to deal with a customer, cut the interaction off.
And if you are answering phones in a customer service call center, how exactly do you "cut the interaction off" without being less than polite? Hanging up on customers is severely frowned upon, both by the managers and the angry customers who call back a second later.

--Enigmatic

I think you missed my point entirely. Obviously you can't cut off a conversation without being impolite. I'm saying that you make a decision: do I want this customer or not? IF you want them, you stay polite. If you don't want them (and this can become evident as a customer becomes unreasonable or too costly) then, drop any pretense of wanting them as a customer. This may be impolite, but it should be clear: we're not going to work this out to your satisfaction, so goodbye.

What I object to is the notion that you can rudely insist on policy and procedure to the evident displeasure of the customer and still call it "customer service." If you can't do what the customer wants, tell them and move on quickly. I don't object to responding to customers in kind when a customer is rude and obnoxious. Just be up front about it.

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