Goodwill And Hospitality Theft Continue To Drive Up The Cost Of The Holiday Season

from the 'silent-night,'-my-infringed-upon-ass dept

Original concept and co-writing by Techdirt community member Nick Dynice.

This holiday season many lawyers, executives, lobbyists, and politicians will have their relatives, friends, and family members stay in their households. With the economy slumping, some out-of-town visitors can’t afford to stay at hotels. When money is tight, these visitors know they can count on the hospitality of family and friends, who will welcome them in with open arms and good cheer.

However, these hosts need to remain vigilant and avoid being swept up in the general goodwill of the holiday season. In the rose-colored fog of the Christmas-to-New Year’s festivities, it’s easy for these situations to get out of hand. Guests have a tendency to get too comfortable very quickly and before you realize it, it’s nearly February and a variety of house guests have begun to refer to you as “Dad” or “Grandpa” and you’re on the hook for video rentals, dry cleaning bills and dental appointments. Your vehicle is now referred to as the “family car” (often by non-family members), your house has become a combination day care/animal shelter and your walk-in closet is now home to a family of Guatemalan refugees.

What starts as selfless “giving” swiftly becomes one-sided “taking.” These interlopers are not only stealing the relatively priceless* time of their hosts, but also their unbillable goodwill. While “goodwill” would seem to be in infinite supply during the latter part of December, the available supply dwindles at a rate inversely proportionate to the number of hours the “family car” has been missing.

*Not actually “priceless.” Billing for used time runs anywhere from $400/hr. [lawyers] to $55,000/hr. [executives] to $20+ billion/hr. [politicians].

The result of this goodwill “piracy” is nothing short of tragic. As time and goodwill are swiftly “stolen” by house guests, the host’s direct family often finds itself having to do without. At best, they can only hope to have a few moments between meals and Immigration raids to angrily discuss efforts to block the rogue infringers, perhaps by seizing the guest bedroom and posting a sternly-worded warning on the door.

Fortunately, someone is doing something about this rampant thievery, and by “something,” we mean making concerned noises and crafting acronyms. Harry Herman, chairman of PARFF (People Against Rude Family and Friends) noted that theft of hospitality is causing an estimated $300 million in losses to American families, resulting in fewer presents and lower quality meals.

“And that’s just the stuff we can quantify,” Herman said. “We have also noticed a distinct decline in the ‘quality’ of ‘quality time’ spent with originating family members as overstaying guests continue to erode the remaining goodwill. Did you know that 1 out of 10 ‘tweens’ will be expected to cobble together an understanding of the ‘birds and bees’ using only 1970s back issues of National Geographic and filtered Cinemax? And that 4 out of 10 children under the age of 10 will spend nearly 400 hours over the holiday season being raised by the internet? It makes you fear for the future of humanity.”

Chris Dolt, spokesperson for the AIL (Anti Infringement League) adds:

“The encroachment of friends and family during the holidays is the true Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Some of January. These infringing ‘guests’ are as much a threat to family harmony as the VCR is to the woman home alone. It starts out with too much bourbon-spiked eggnog and before you know it, Uncle Joe has committed ‘goodwill’ robbery in broad daylight, briefly aligning himself with the protesters uptown by hanging an ‘#Occupy The Robertson’s’ sign on the den wall before passing out under the Christmas tree. Industry estimates have concluded that hosting rarely-seen family members during the holiday season is equivalent to removing two presents from under the Christmas tree and throwing them into the fireplace.”

Dolt continues:

“Not to sound heartless, especially during this joyous time of the year, but when it comes to ‘goodwill infringement,’ there are no ‘innocent’ infringers. Uncle Joe may claim that his drunken antics are a ‘victimless’ crime, but sooner or later, the hosts will find their previously innocent children raiding the liquor cabinet to spice up their Nesquik. The best choice is to take action against the infringer as quickly and harshly as possible. For the well-being of all involved, your best bet is to throw Uncle Joe into the fireplace, thus returning the ‘goodwill’ back to the long-suffering hosts, who can now observe first-hand that the uncle that is twice as drunk burns half as long. For more handy tips, please see my simple 41-step G.E.T.O.U.T. plan (General Efforts To Oust Unwanted Tenants).”

For suffering hosts whose goodwill, time and energy is in short supply, there is good news. 90% of all goodwill infringement is only temporary, ending by January 3rd at the latest. Both spokesmen caution against hosting mothers-in-law, second cousins, and lazy grandparents, noting that for these risk groups, ‘overstaying their welcome’ can often occur within minutes of their arrival, resulting in unprecedented amounts of “goodwill theft” with no sure measure of recourse.

The lesson for this holiday season? Good guests don’t infringe.

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Comments on “Goodwill And Hospitality Theft Continue To Drive Up The Cost Of The Holiday Season”

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Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:


You forgot ripple effects.

Everyone will suffer if this hospitality piracy isn’t stopped. Lost jobs at hotels from “pirate guests” staying in homes. Lost jobs at restaurants from “pirate guests” eating family meals around the dinner table.

Just think of the advertising executive who works at the company that makes those Holiday Inn commercials. Won’t someone think of the advertising executives?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

If parents had been rich throughout their offspring’s childhoods, the children would have grown up socializing with other rich people and thus would have connections in order to get good jobs working for lawyers, executives, lobbyists, and politicians.

So parents, please consider being rich if you want your children to succeed without really trying.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you have these sorts of guests, it’s really easy to cure.

You tell them their time is up. You don’t mind helping folk that want to help themselves but will not stand to be taken advantage of.

If it’s a free meal and lodging, it’s time for them to visit the nearest homeless shelter as the parking meter time for ‘home’ has run out. Or they can always head for their ‘home’ which isn’t where they are now.

Grow a pair and tell them it’s time to leave.

Dave (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Having to tell the Hospitality theives to leave places an unfair burden on the provider. This is obviously a job for more regulation and a special division of the FBI should be created to deal with this theft of services.

In fact, we should create Hospitality attaches that will be trained and installed in every embassy and will work with hospitality providers to enforce fair hospitality practices throughout the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Obviously part of the burden should rest on the furniture, home appliance, and car manufactures since these hospitality thieves are spending most of their time using technologies they made available. The wild wild west days of the living room need to end and the only way we can do that is if we create legal liabilities for these third parties if they don’t include ass filtering technology for couches or eyeball filtering technology for TVs to filter out non-immediate family member asses and eyeballs. Frankly such technology would be so trivial to implement it’s a blessing we don’t hold them all accountable right now for not including it in the first place.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I knew a hotel GM who’s favorite promotion was giving away little yellow rubber ducks (yes the kind for the bathtub). He was most amused by the businessmen in three piece suites demanding their ducks at checkout.

/sarc on
So my recommendation is to pass on the t-shirts and get some rubber ducks. Business folks are so easy to satisfy.

/sarc off

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