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Pardons and Quality Signals Without Consumer Referral

Article by Drew Williams

Branding through word of mouth is commonly regarded as one of, if not the best promotional tools and indicators of quality in existence. People trust the opinions of those closest to them far more than any others, and it is both human nature and completely logical to put more stock in claims coming from a wide range of non-colluding non-stakeholders than from someone who has something to gain or lose via misrepresentation of an object (e.g. a business and its product). For most firms in most industries, achieving rabidly positive and widespread word-of-mouth implies guaranteed success. However, what happens when a) customer retention is not possible and b) the product/service offered is such that previous customers (hereafter ‘alumni’) actively try to disavow having ever used it? We will study the case of pardons to break down a separate kind of signalling effect for quality when alumni review isn’t available.

To begin, we must first go over how pardons firms operate. In exchange for a fee higher than the cost of simply applying for the pardon oneself, the pardons firm agrees to provide its expertise in coordinating the application process with the many different bodies involved (courts, police stations, bureaus, etc.) to help ensure that the pardon is received by the end consumer as quickly and with as little difficulty as possible. In this way, the essence of the service is the speed with which the pardon is granted relative to the speed in which it could be granted. Here, the speed is a real-valued multivariate function with inputs SDS, SDC, SFP, BC where

SDS = speed of document shipping (from bureaus to consumer, from consumer to pardon processing agency)

SDC = speed of document completion (on the part of the consumer)

SFP = speed of form processing (on the part of the pardon processing agency)

BC = bureau coordination (efficiently managing the resources of each input into the pardon process on the part of the pardons firm)

An appropriate measure of quality for such a firm would be the cost of the service divided by the time taken to receive the pardon.Next we must examine the essence of the product and determine what about it makes customer retention and word-of-mouth advertising impossible. The entire point of a pardon is to remove the evidence of a criminal past from a person’s official record. Since pardons must be granted for all convictions simultaneously, it is easy to see that a consumer will only ever need or want one, hence eliminating the prospect of retaining customers.

In order to propagate word-of-mouth, alumni must tell others positive things about the product/service, thus encouraging them to use it. However, this necessarily entails the alumni admitting to having used the product/service. As mentioned above, the entire reasoning behind requesting a pardon is to remove oneself from the stigma and legal restrictions arising as a result of being identified as a convict. From this we can see that pardons alumni are unlikely to engage in word-of-mouth because they will once again be identified as a criminal, which defeats the entire purpose.

How then does the market signal quality to potential consumers when alumni disavow all knowledge of the product/service? There are the other traditional signalling effects of price and presentation but those are entirely controlled by the firm itself and can be easily manipulated to give off fuzzy signals. The answer is that prospective consumers signal quality to each other via negative, failed interactions. If the ‘sale’ is not completed, then the consumer maintains their criminal record and has a window in which to signal their discontent. Whether or not this is an accurate or effective signal for pardons firms is another matter entirely.

About the Author

Drew Williams studies economics and areas of Canadian law related to pardons and US criminal waivers. He loves to hear feedback, positive or negative, about his writing.

BANGKOK, Oct 17 – The government are trying to delay the royal pardon process for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a core leader of the anti-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) Chatuporn Prompan charged Saturday. Mr Chatuporn, a member of parliament from the opposition Puea Thai Party, told the UDD demonstrators gathering at Government House that the demonstration of the so-called Red Shirt protesters on Saturday was meant warn the government not to ignore its claim that at least 3.5 million have petitioned in support of Mr Thaksin, who fled Thailand last August to avid a two-year jail term for corruption being served. However, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga earlier denied UDD charges that the government was delaying the petition process. He said the UDD should have submitted its petition to the corrections department which he said is responsible for considering the issue, not the prime ministers office. The premiers office was forced to send the document to the office of the permanent secretary for justice which then passed it to the corrections department, wasting time. He said considerable progress had been made, but the delay was caused by the UDD submitting the petition to wrong office in the first instance. The UDD said it convened the demonstration at Government House to mark the passage of 60 day from when its petition seeking government action toward a royal pardon for deposed ex-premier Thaksin as its deadline has

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