When LBJ was a Senator from Texas and famous for getting his way against strong opposition from fellow congressmen and government bureaucrats, he was asked to explain his negotiating secrets. He said to the questioning newspaper reporter:
“Son, it’s really simple. You grab ’em firmly by the balls. Their hearts and minds will follow.”
It turns out that what charms reluctant politicians works just as well on corporations . . . case in point, Fujitsu.
As reported in an earlier post, I filed a lawsuit against them last week. I sent them an email this morning advising them of it. Within hours I had an email, then a phone call, offering me a brand new computer to replace the one they’ve apparently lost.
We are now awaiting agreement on compensation for the hardware upgrades that I’d installed on the lost computer and confirmation from their legal department that they will accept my counter-offer to file a motion with the court to dismiss the lawsuit as soon as we reach agreement on those other issues.
Stayed tuned (and keep your zipper zipped.)
UPDATE: After a series of emails every few hours during Thursday and Friday morning, between me and Fujitsu’s chief legal counsel, some of them on each side as sharply worded as a Samurai saber and delivered as coldly as a gullet-to-groin slash, I demanded compensation for the damages suffered as a result of the loss of the computer. Fujitsu rejected any responsibility for those problems.
I kept my demands reasonable and avoided talking about cash, which I knew they would never lay out. I said I would accept nothing less than a new computer, with a full new-computer warranty for one year, plus the optional extended screen damage warranty that would provide two free screens (parts and labor) per year if they are needed, plus a replacement of the RAM upgrade I’d installed, plus the WiFi upgrade they had installed when the first WiFi card was defective.
I demanded it all be shipped by overnight express, Saturday am delivery guaranteed at their expense.
The first version (Monday) of the settlement release they wanted me to sign turned out to be overly broad, basically preventing me from ever suing them again for any reason on any issue, even if this new computer turned out bad. I rejected it and said I was insulted that they would think I could be gulled that way.
In the next tendered version, the language was ambiguous about when the new computer would ship. So I rejected that version too.
Each time I rejected it, the offending condition was removed and the settlement agreement modified appropriately, all without argument from Fujitsu. And each time, something newly offensive to me was added. While they may not have intended it as such, I had the impression it was something of a game, a legal tennis match, serve and return.
On Thursday afternoon, after four days of this, I said either the replacement ships within 24 hours for Saturday delivery, or negotiations are over and I will take my chances with the court.
By Friday Noon I rejected what they labeled a “Final Offer of Settlement” text regarding the two warranties (the basic and the extended screen coverage) based on the purchase date of the old computer. Those warrenties would have expired in less than 4 months from now. I said we were done playing games; one full year or it’s over.
If Howie Mandel had been there he might have said, “Deal? . . . or no deal? Open the case.”
Their response? Deal!
Despite my screwing up by putting a typo in the shipping address, which delayed delivery until Monday, I now have my new replacement laptop and I’ve spent this past week restoring all the software and work projects (backup, backup, backup).
Also noted, after they created so many emails and alternative “Final Offers” they screwed up. The final document offered spelled out a full THREE YEAR warranty – and that’s what we both signed.
Other lessons learned:
1) always document the most casual and innocent transaction. Get receipts and signatures. Without the one from Fujitsu in Sydney, I doubt I’d have a new computer today.
2) keep all such records and receipts in a common folder – and know where it is.
3) when you are right, don’t back down. Be assertive and – if they make you – be aggressive and even threatening. But don’t threaten unless you mean it.
4) Corporations NEVER do anything they don’t want to until you actually file the lawsuit, as was the case here.
5) finally, always remember that conflict resolution advice from LBJ.