Argue the representations made on their website were misleading and induced you into using the service. That due to the unequal bargaining power, any ambiguities in their Terms must be resolved in your favor. Research precedent, including anything judges have said about click-wrap vs browse-wrap agreements in your jurisdiction.
Maybe you can find a sympathetic lawyer from a prestigious firm who's willing to write them on your behalf on their firm's letterhead. All this might simply scare them into settling - it's far cheaper for them than paying a lawyer to litigate (and less toxic publicity), and eliminates the risk that if you manage to win (small-claims is a bit more unpredictable than big-boy court) it sets a precedent that could come back and bite their business model.
We are launching a new insurance product for our owners: the KitSplit Theft Protection Owner Guarantee. It’s something we’ve been considering for a while, and with this latest theft it’s clearly time.
The Owner Guarantee means that KitSplit owners will be covered in all scenarios, whether damage, loss, or theft. To make good on this promise, we’re starting by reimbursing the Yohahn and the other owner.
We are the first rental platform to offer coverage of this kind. It fills a major insurance loophole, and it’s the right thing to do for our customers.
You are welcome to read more about the problem and how we’re fixing it here. https://blog.kitsplit.com/announcing-kitsplit-theft-protecti...
Reminds me of a quote from Fight Club -
"Sometimes you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette" ~ Tyler Durden
Yes, it was a huge oversight, but the past is the past. A bad thing had happen. But, KitSplit has now taken corrective actions to fix this as well as prevent this from happening in the future.
I don't think this is the time to disparage their service because of one incident. It was unfortunate, but .. come'on the author is a big boy as well. He could've read the complete TOS before hand. After all, he's parting ways with a $3,500 piece of equipment. He didn't have a problem writing a blog about this and expected people to read what he wrote. So, why not see exactly what you're getting into.
The internet has been around for quite a while now, and there's always scammers out there (on both ends).
Moving forward, I would hope that KitSplit not only ensures these insurance policies but do some trail-blazing a little bit on this type of thing.
A couple of ideas -
1. Maybe have their policies clearly written on their platform. Or better yet, address this on the homepage and create a "how-to" video on this so people know how the new policy will be enforced.
2. Trackability - Add a required tracking mechanism to be placed on the device, so if it is stolen/manipulated it can be easily reported to the an authority
3. Fraud form - Create an easy to use form for reporting stolen items. This data can then be sent to the local police, etc to try to find and capture the culprit. Basically, it could do the things that are in KitSplit's policy.
4. Expose a monthly report on incidents like that and the amount refunded/recouped.
These are just at the top of my head. I'm sure they could think of more ways to ensure that everyone on all sides are being honest.
It wasn't one incident. A very similar incident has made the rounds last year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18332918
Again, the victim got fully compensated only after making a big enough stink, and the top comment calls out KitSplit's advertising as misleading.
I have a hard time calling it an "oversight" that KitSplit puts statements like "Always Insured - Your gear is always covered" front and center, while you have to go dig for the reality that there is no coverage against the renter walking away with the gear.
(Also, was the less than 0.01% number accurate? Especially as you write 1/1000 elsewhere, which is 0.1% - ten times as much! To achieve less than 0.01%, even with just these two incidents, you must have done more than twenty thousand rentals. Is that correct? Can you give a more accurate percentage now you've looked into this?)
Come on, we know full well incidents like this were considered in the first place when launching your business and you nevertheless decided to go along with your fraudulent “insurance” policy (not covering “voluntary parting” which is the main risk in this case - in fact I’m struggling to think of an incident that wouldn’t fall under voluntary parting when using your platform).
The only reason you’re here and you’re launching this new insurance policy is that the story blew up and you’re doing damage control. There’s clearly zero intention in compensating the affected renters otherwise you would’ve done that from the start instead of sending them canned responses.
After this is implemented, how would the price be:
(let's assume for the calculations that the additional guarantee is $2)
* $70 for the lender and $19 for KitSplit and taxes and guarantee (no additional fee)
* $70 for the lender and $21 for KitSplit and taxes and guarantee
* $68 for the lender and $21 for KitSplit and taxes and guarantee
What does this sentence of the blog post mean?
> When an owner gets a rental request they will be offered the chance to opt-into the waiver.
The owner can opt-in to get the additional protection, or the owner can opt-it to avoid the additional protection?
Why is it a good idea to opt-in/opt-out? Does the additional protection have a fee?
> I wanted to personally respond to let you know that we are fixing this and making them whole- and then some.
So are you saying you're "making them whole" because that is policy, or making an exception in this case because you feel bad now that it's public?
Why did you not remove the misleading statements about the gear being always covered from the owner landing page after the first well publicized incident? https://web.archive.org/web/20190430061041/https://kitsplit.... (in fact, it's still there).
Or the claim that "Exclusive to KitSplit members, our insurance options are full-coverage" from https://kitsplit.com/add-listing-landing, which is front-and-center with the reality hidden far below the fold.
As far as I'm concerned, you are (were?) intentionally deceiving your customers, even after it had publicly blown up in your face the last time.
I was responding to a post of an official speaking behalf of the company, the parts I was responding to were written as 'we' in the original post, and especially given this, I hope you'll agree that I am expecting the company and not the CEO personally to reimburse the user, which should make clear how the "you" in that post is meant.
I'm curious too if you read the article and if you see any discrepancy or dishonesty of KitSplit in the presented evidence - which is what this commenter is referring/replying to in their 4th paragraph?
Shame isn't inherently a bad thing: if someone does something bad and obvious like deceptive and dishonest practices, and there is proof of it - like the deception pointed out by the author - then that being pointed out has a purpose and value. Bullying for example should be shamed, no? Shaming someone for how they dress, something out of their control, their sexuality, and so on, however of course isn't okay and is harmful. I wonder do you and HN mods group all shame together or are you aware of and understand this nuanced difference?
I feel for you that moderating a community is difficult, however blanket decisions like calling out all shame as illegitimate can be more harmful for more than one reason - even if it makes moderation easier because there's less consideration or feeling it out given, even if erring on the side of caution feels prudent and relieving because you're taking action vs. not taking action - quelling feelings of potential uncertainty by expressing something.
In conclusion, being in a position of authority, as a mod on HN, and threatening to ban someone for expressing themselves, their anger, and legitimate highlighting of deception - which in multiple places in this thread you state and are lumping together as defending as a cause against a "culture of shame" - is highly damaging - though you're not likely to experience or see the damage it causes especially as most people aren't likely to respond under the pressure or fear because of your mod position, and they are now going to feel repressed.
I’m sorry. This really sucks. Both what happened to you and our initial response. As the founder and CEO of KitSplit, please accept my sincere apology....I’m also sorry that it took you complaining loudly on the internet for us to get our heads straight on this one and do the right thing.
I hope the OP comes back to share his thoughts on how this all turned out (or any others who may have slipped through this gap over the years).
What's the point in pretending to be honorable by offering a service one can pay for to prevent your misdeeds? Any reasonable person here can see straight through you and your business.
If you want to be ethical going forward, rewrite your user agreement and offer this insurance baked into your product. If it turns out you cannot profit from running your business in an ethical manner, then perhaps you should consider a different line of work. Or, at the very least, don't offer your fake sympathy when a user uses your product and falls victim to your personal shortcomings.
If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and use this site as intended, we'd be grateful.
It's not a legitimate question, but plainly a rhetorical attack.
And I don't see it as a rhetorical device, but effectively asking the question "Why didn't you offer the right compensation prior to being publicly shamed?" which IMHO is a very valid question for anybody dealing with the said company, as the responses can vary from "We didn't understand the damage it would do us and we want to contain it" to "We're seeing the errors in our approach and we'll do better from now on".
Right now the response in somewhere in between these two, and clarification is important.
Their fees certainly aren't going towards liability insurance or fraud detection, so what are they doing with those fees?
I bet the fraud rate at KitSplit is going to go up after this post. Now you have a list of people that will wake up at 7am to hand over $4k of gear to you, knowing that KitSplit won't do anything and neither will law enforcement. Just remember to cancel your credit card and you'll make a quick $2k!
In all seriousness, if KitSplit wanted to stop this just charge renters a hefty deposit (the approximate cost of resell) and it should nip this in the bud. Obviously, someone in their "Growth" team will point out that this will hurt their KPIs and their VCs might not like it, so they won't do it.
Given that KitSplit doesn't even disable the account of known thieves, it seems pretty clearly a case of malice (or, more accurately, greed, which in this case has the same net effect), not incompetence.
Not so. Thieves aren't stupid. They try a few times to figure out the system, then steal the identity of someone else (who is legit and passes fraud and credit checks) to do the actual theft.
The portability of the gear, combined with it's high resale value, means rentals will never work for an online business.
If the thieves have access to a local, legit person's CC, identity, and phone, then yes, you can't really stop them from stealing.
How can a a theif fake an interview?
It's not supposed to be an excuse for anything. The GP asked why they didn't take a deposit and my response was to argue why that's pointless.
Only allow renters to bypass this process for a new card if they have an established and positive rental record.
It's more likely KickSplit doesn't want to introduce friction for potential renters. $3,500 is a large deposit for someone who just wants to pay $75 rent on a few hours of use.
So probably ~30% of face value.
You get to read claims and promises how safe you'll be on their web site.
She also claims their assessment of people signing up to KitSplit is effective at blocking 99.99% of bad actors and stopping millions of dollars of theft on the platform, almost surely an exaggeration.
If this is true, they should easily be able to afford to self insure against theft by charging 10 cents per thousand dollars of gear rented.
Odd that they don't do that huh.
Which makes sense--if you're planning on stealing the equipment, you'd probably expect to have your account banned so you'd probably try to steal as much as possible while the account is still considered legitimate. As in this case where the author alleges that the same person also stole someone else's gear on the same day.
If it's not representative of the actual risk KitSplit will face, then it's also not representative of the actual risk users will face. And if it's not representative of user risk, then it's deceptive for KitSplit to bring it up as a way to defuse the situation or suggest that consumers shouldn't be worried.
The article paints in painful detail how the website claims one thing and the contractual terms do the opposite, resulting in the user being suckered by fine print. Literally, this is a problem of false advertising.
Instead of proper fixes to the problem, they will add more fine print and more reasons to rub it in your face when your gear gets stolen.
In the end, there's not even a "contact me to get this sorted" link; it's just another call to engage with first-tier support some more.
Just use Craigslist if you're looking to make money off your high-end gear; at least then, you can know with a higher likelihood that you're being scammed.
That is much much much better than this scenario. It's a big mystery also how the company claims to take a deposit for the full value of the equipment, and then apparently just keeps the deposit themselves when the item is stolen? Really?
99.99 means one stolen item out of 10,000. So they'll make $210,000(using articles info) but can't pay $3,500 to cover a stolen item out of that revenue. I bet the CEO is lying about the theft rate.
Ouch, so this isn't the first person to get bit by this on KitSplit, just the first one to get traction. These companies need to get called out way more.
So perhaps KitSplit's strategy of blocking bad actors is to redefine them as neutral ones, converting millions in theft into millions in "partings" - which might not be an exaggeration.
Interesting way to phrase it: "..effective at blocking 99.99% of bad actors". It sounds precise yet it is anything but because it says nothing about how many "bad actors" there are. Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? And over what period of time? A year? A day? 5 minutes? Any one of those factors could make orders of magnitude difference to the chance that one's property will be stolen.
If fraud were really as infrequent as they seem to suggest, then it seems like they should be able to absorb the losses. As it is, it appears they've so far concluded that the negative publicity will cost them less than the actual losses.
Elsewhere is the figure 0.1%, off by a factor of 10. It's not clear whether 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10000 rentals results in theft.
However, just because 1 in 1000 rentals results in theft doesn't mean one's assessment is 99.9% effective in blocking bad actors.
Bad actors are currently a tiny minority of their users. Apparently 1 in 1000. If you blocked 99.99% of them, then theft would drop to 1 in 10,000,000 rentals. Her claimed numbers make no sense in the context of their actual theft rates. And yes, legally under criminal law it is theft, it is not voluntary parting. Voluntary parting does not appear to be a principle from criminal law and instead is something invented by insurance industry contract attorneys to deny responsibility for insurance claims.
So you gotta purchase optional insurance in additional to the 22% platform fees. Certainly makes the prospect of renting out my kit worth thousands of dollars for literal tens of dollars all the more attractive.
I can't see this as anything other than "privatizing the profits, socializing the losses" approach that most new gig-economy startups use. First they try to get away with as much as possible, until negative PR or legal requirements forces them to change. And then it's suddenly "a new feature" that they're so proud to announce (even though they created the problem in the first place).
just a pile of incoherent absurd BS. Looks like that CEO has no idea what she is talking about. How for example does she think auto accidents are handled when both participants have the same insurance company?
KitSplit claims that these scenarios are extremely rare. If that was the case, I have no idea why they wouldn't include voluntary parting insurance in their service. Is the bad press worth the occasional payout they'd need to do?
Why would I or anyone else ever use KitSplit after hearing a story like this? Peace-of-mind is literally the most important feature of a service like this. It is the only thing that separates them from your local [insert-location-here] Facebook rental group that just exchanges cash under the table.
: https://petapixel.com/2018/10/29/how-i-lent-my-4500-camera-k... (HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18332918)
It would be nice to compare the unpixellated photos of the thieves.
It turns out, faking an old facebook profile well enough to fool a human who you're going to meet face to face is tricky, and thieves really hate being called out to all their real friends, relatives, etc.
That's blatant misleading advertising, hope this blows up on them.
It didn't last time: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18332918 (7 months ago). It's the exact same story, except the victim there got his story published at a major photography site and roused enough rabble that KitSplit ended up reimbursing him for the low low cost of an endorsement at the end.
That worked out well - I suspect they just covered their asses further, to the extent that they could do so without actually being clear about the risk renters are exposed to.
Insurance always carries a steep moral hazard in the form of the temptation to sell deceptive peace of mind, fooling their client into thinking they have purchased insurance covering a scenario which the company has no intent of actually covering. Few people will ever actually discover the deception, so it's reliably profitable. I had not heard of the "voluntary parting is not theft" schtick before today and in the absence of a prominent warning about this distinction I would consider such an insurance sale fraudulent. Further, I'd want a large punitive multiplier on the fines to account for the fact that most of the time the deception will go undiscovered.
I strongly suspect our legal system would disagree, and I'd consider that an even bigger problem.
We were paying some rather expensive home insurance, one time a thief broke inside, and they did all they could to avoid paying us, ended paying the bare mininum they could, barely covering the stolen goods costs.
Still at the time it didn't looked like bad faith, just fraud checking...
But then this time lightning hit our house, the insurance response was that unless we can prove it was a direct strike against the house, it would count as "electrical fault" that is not covered, because it would be blamed on the electric company instead...
So we argued that yes, the lightning DID hit our house directly (because well, it did, the path the electricity did was very obvious, with the endpoint being the pointy metal end of the structure that holds our gate upright), they just flat out refused to come check, because the likelihood of this happening was so low that they were sure it was a waste of their time to check, and that we should bother the electricity company...
The electricity company in turn, said they detected zero fluctuations on the grid, and would not send a technician to check, that it wasn't their fault.
So that day I learned that "lightning coverage" only cover a strike on the hourse itself... a strike on the lamp-post right outside for example, doesn't count, even if it blows up everything inside your house, becase the "fault" then is the electric company.
Turns out "prenatal maternity care" is simply defined as the blood pressure, weight, and fundal measurements. That's all that bullet point means.
* Ultrasound? Well, that's different. It's a lab procedure. Yep, even the 20-week "standard" anatomy scan.
* Get a non-stress test done (literally just 10 minutes worth of heart-rate monitoring)? Then it becomes a "specialist visit." You'll pay for that.
* Get any bloodwork done? Even if it's for the mother's health and not trying to do some sort of pre-natal screening? It's a diagnostic lab procedure.
* Urine samples for pre-eclampsia? Diagnostic testing.
* Mandatory (state-required) STD panel? That's diagnostic testing, too.
Turns out the ACA requires "pre-natal care" to be covered, so bragging about it in the first place is just absurd.
It's essentially trading on fraud, dead centre in that grey area of contract law where your only hope of winning a case is court action with the help of top flight lawyers - whose services you can't afford.
Of course some companies are more reputable, but there is a huge - huge - spread of integrity within the industry. No one should ever believe that just because they pay $x/yr they're covered to the extent they hope they are without checking small print and doing plenty of searches for customer feedback.
Then of course, the difficult part is deciding who is at fault.
But in this case the person theoretically covered by the insurance (their coverage obviously benefitting the one renting out the hardware, as their hardware is then made whole) is the one who caused the loss. Just as your homeowner insurance doesn't want to cover you if you burn down your own house on purpose -- the real moral hazard -- they don't want to cover this situation.
It's shitty, but the insurance served a valuable but finite purpose. The insurance was never intended for what happened here.
Deceptive marketing suggesting that the scope of an insurance policy is larger than it actually is: big problem.
Branding this as a sharing economy issue undersells the problem by an order of magnitude or two.
The voluntary parting is a concept invented by insurance companies to deny liability. It has nothing to do with criminal law which sees this as prosecutable criminal theft.
For example, in my home state, reneging on a rental agreement on a piece of property worth more than $100 is "Misapplication of Property," a misdemeanor.
Actually stealing the exact same camera, as opposed to deceiving the owner, is "Larceny," a felony.
Holding up the owner at gunpoint to steal the same camera is "Robbery," a much more serious felony.
The law slices and dices these things finely. Sweet talking someone into handing over his property is often a crime, but it is usually not the same crime as simply taking it.
Example: someone leases a car and doesn't make payments. Leasor can't call the police and claim "Janet stole my 2018 Cadillac, she stopped making payments two months ago!". Or, they can, but will be told: It's not theft.
> A key element of any larceny or theft crime is what an offender intends to do with the property after taking it. Typically, an offender is guilty of a theft crime when he takes the property of another with the intention of permanently depriving him of it. Deciding later to keep the property an offender originally intended to use temporarily and then return becomes a larceny or theft crime at the moment the offender's intent changes. The perfect example of this is a rental car you decide not to return. A lawful rental becomes a larceny or theft crime the moment you fail to return it on time with the intention of keeping it.
Other sources agree:
Many state laws agree:
https://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.56.096 (Note here both that the law here explicitly states that not returning a leased or rented item is theft, and that it is specifically presumed so when one uses a false id or address.)
Including the state where the above guy lives:
The claim that it's simply a civil contract issue with no criminal implications is not correct.
Given that the thief in the above case also used a false identity, he is guilty of identity theft as well.
So it died at that point because they reimbursed the owner.
This is their only way out at this point. But they took the high ground this time, and it's likely that the bad press will grow until they will compensate the unlucky chap to make this disappear as well.
I hate to say it but unless you're bound by an arbitration agreement in the terms of service you should just file in small claims. Even still...file in small claims and make them fight to have the case sent to arbitration. Lawyers are expensive and you won't need one in small claims.
Sometimes the process is the punishment.
Also, the co-founder of KitSplit has an account here as well.
Also, just because you sign an illegal contract doesn't make that contract valid. Many companies will try to tell you "well you accepted our terms when signing up." Well those terms are not on legal grounds.
I think we all know the answer here.
So many sites are just "hapless middle men who facilitate contact between individuals who want to engage in <activity>" when someone commits fraud/theft/terroristic threats/<crime> on their platform.
The next person who gets their kit stolen is still fucked though, unless they too manage to make it to the front page.
Tech companies need to start to accept some liability for the problems they are causing.
Edit: I have a verified fake name. Now I'm waiting to see if they accept my photoshopped ID images.
Edit 2: I now also have a verified Government ID. Here is a screenshot of my totally legit verified profile. https://i.imgur.com/dr61qN5.png
Their stolen bike FAQ says:
What happens if the bike is stolen?
If a motorcycle that you rented through Twisted Road is stolen, please immediately file a police report and cooperate fully with law enforcement, Twisted Road, the motorcycle owner, and any other authorities related to the investigation. If you are the owner, please immediately contact a Twisted Road representative and follow his or her instructions. Owners should be prepared to file a police report if instructed to do so. You will be able to provide law enforcement with the driver’s license of the rider, the plates, and other important information needed to locate and return your bike.
If you are concerned about having your bike stolen while it is being rented, we encourage you to place a GPS tracker on your motorcycle before each rental.
Basically, you are responsible if your motorcycle is stolen.
The only solution is to put up a bond of approximately the street value of a similar stolen motorbike.
If I rented a car/phone/computer/camera directly from any legitimate company, you can bet that the police and lawyers wouldn't consider that <legitimate company> voluntarily parted with their property.
As to the security of such an approach, I always wondered what happens with bad players. Without much investigation I simply assumed that:
1. most people are likely good players
2. those few bad players would get caught by an actually functioning police force and the punishment would be so severe nobody wants to risk it
Naive I know :) I don't know about #1 but #2 is starting to become clear to me it's simply not true. Just look at KitSplit, plenty of bad actors and when that happens nobody seems to be caught. I'm starting to think that people trust strangers implicitly as a matter of comfort (it's more stressful to distrust everyone for sure) and culture (they grew up in it) rather than because they have rational reasons to do so (ex. the law is enforced and violations of said trust are severely punished).
High trust is a substrate which enables lots of great things to happen. But it's also a resource which can be mined by people for profit, and I worry that a lot of the West is in the process of transitioning into a low-trust society, with a lot of people profiting along the way.
The US is a pretty big and diverse place. Where I'm from it's expected that everyone screws everyone as hard as possible in any business transaction and if you don't do your due diligence then you consent to whatever screwing you receive.
For example you call ten plumbers and all ten of them will give you a "screw you" price then you call up your cousin who calls his in-law who's a GC who gives you a plumber's contact info and a name to drop and then you get a reasonable price that the plumber would offer when they're not trying to screw the other party. Then you use this info to negotiate the other guys down to reasonable prices. And that's just one example.
The state can generally be trusted to not take advantage of you but you still have to be careful. They'll play plenty of tricks that push the limits of plausible deniability in order to get their money.
Even retail transactions are suspect. About the only places I can trust to not rip me off 50% of the time are the big national chains.
It's not quite as bad as some other parts of the world but you can't enter into any business transaction without doing your due diligence. If you do you'll get burned pretty often.
Even in random day to day interactions with other people you don't trust people unless you know them or there's some alignment of interests that keeps them from screwing you.
And no, I don't come from some "backwards" rural area. I'm speaking about a relatively well off part of the northeast.
I've lived and done business in New England, N. California, the Midwest and Southeast, and the attitude you described is widespread. (Though by no means practiced by everyone.)
The Southeast in fact has been the worst IME, because underhanded practices come along with a big helping of Southern "niceness", and often a lower level of competence.
Since we launched in 2015, tens of thousands of filmmakers and creators have safely rented gear to and from each other on KitSplit with incredibly positive experiences.
Recently, however, someone stole $3,500 cameras from two of our owners. To put it mildly, this was an awful experience for the owners. One of them wrote about it on the internet, as you know. At first, we reacted by basically telling him “sorry, you knew the risks (or should have). It’s all in our terms of service!” And technically speaking, it’s true. Traditional gear rental insurance that we (and all rental platforms) offer doesn’t cover theft by the renter.
But traditional gear rental insurance is inadequate. And so is our policy.
We’ve been pondering this problem for a while. With this recent theft, it is clearly time to solve this problem.
So we’ve decided to create a new insurance product for our owners: the KitSplit Theft Protection Owner Guarantee.
The Owner Guarantee means that KitSplit owners will be covered in all scenarios, whether damage, loss, or theft. To make good on this promise, we’re starting by reimbursing the two owners who’s gear was recently stolen.
You are welcome to read more about the problem and how we are fixing it here. https://blog.kitsplit.com/announcing-kitsplit-theft-protecti...
It'd be really interesting to see a post-mortem that explained how your kick-ass vetting system was able to get "Kobe B" and "Hokey Pokey Artichoke" verified as legitimate users?
Recently, however, someone stole $3,500 cameras from two of our owners.
Approximately how many of your owners experienced thefts prior to these two recent events?
This smells to high heaven. As pointed out by OP, your TOS are written to gloss over who holds liability if a renter splits with your kit.
This comment was so far beyond the pale (plus you posted so many unsubstantive comments elsewhere today) that we've banned this account. If you don't want to be banned, we'll happily reinstate you; just email firstname.lastname@example.org and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.
But then again folks are renting out their apartment with fully loaded furniture and appliances to complete strangers. It is infinitely surprising to me that scammers haven't made business out of this. AirBnB doesn't require real background check and with just fake FB profile, pre-loaded visa card any scammer can be in business to steal thousands of dollars of valuables. People are effectively giving away keys to their home for just few 10s of dollars and scammers are just passing this opportunity up. This wouldn't have made sense to any economist and it still doesn't. How is this possible?
turo.com facilitates giving cars worth tens of thousands to strangers for less (per day). They do claim to be insured, though - but I'm not going to be putting them to the test.
The information asymmetry and friction with these niche p2p sharing services just isn't worth it. You're basically learning the rules of an entirely new industry with each one - a significant amount of mental bandwidth to discover whether or not it will even work for what you need.
Sharegrid reached out to me once (because I was selling a camera on Craigslist). I looked over the site for about an hour and still would have had no idea about this "voluntary parting" issue.
Are you saying Sharegrid was suggesting you should instead keep the camera and rent it using Sharegrid?
Quite some sales technique if so...
I'm not a fan of the call out culture, but I really want to see KitSplit take some action and fix this problem.
Maybe covering voluntary parting would result in too many fraudulent claims. If that's the case, they should clearly explain that theft is not covered and perhaps offer an insurance supplement.
Read the CEO's comment above. She states their assessment has been effective at blocking 99.99% of bad actors and stopping millions of dollars of theft on the platform
She's almost surely exaggerating and pulling those numbers out of thin air.
> I want to be clear that there are no insurance providers or rental platforms that we know of that do offer coverage for voluntary parting.
It takes some guts to put this in the reply when the article specifically mentions the insurance solution of their competitor. It's like they didn't even read the piece they're replying to.
> A) On our insurance page kitsplit.com/insurance We explain in underlined terms that “we recommend that owners need to get their own annual policy with voluntary parting coverage in addition to the insurance provided by the renter.”
> The sad reality is that insurance companies simply do not cover voluntary parting. As a result we are, as of now, unable to offer voluntary parting because there are no insurance partners who provide it.
Now I'm sure there's a difference between ensuring a business as a whole like that and insuring yourself, but seriously?
In this case, she's arguing that their insurance partners do not provide voluntary parting insurance. This may be technically correct. However, the way insurance works is you can always go to an insurer of last resort and ask for exceptions. Lloyd's of London will cover race cars while racing or space vessels for accidents, for example, even though those are hardly standard policies. Nearly anything can be covered if you set the premium and deductibles high enough. They have billing codes for some pretty bizarre insured cases.
An entire sharing economy of companies could easily devise an insurance product that meets these needs if they worked to make it to happen. It would be trivial to scare consumers away from competitors that do not provide this.
* Get your own coverage
* Insurance companies don't cover it. Full stop. It's not that it's unavailable "at a reasonable price." It's "woe is us, we would if we could, but those damn insurance partners won't let us."
I know her last point isn't accurate, but that's what she's saying and she's phrasing it that way intentionally to shift responsibility. It's abhorrent.
Voluntary parting is when you voluntarily hand it to someone, lending or renting, and they fail to return it. Theft on the other hand is called involuntary parting.
Not sure how much of a gray area this is. If I don't return a car from the dealer for a test drive and am caught, I'll be charged by police with theft, not voluntary parting. Likewise with car and equipment rentals.
It seems like the distinction is something that only comes up in the text of insurance policies, and is not an actual legal principle from criminal law.
Police see it as theft and it's a criminal act.
But the contract you agree to defines it as voluntary parting, doesn't cover it, and does cover theft, which never happens and isn't possible on their platform, so they never have to do anything except collect a big share of the rental fee.
If I don't pay my mortgage, I don't get charged with anything. What's the difference between lending money vs a car/camera etc? I guess it all comes down to intent, but intent is hard to prove.
It's hard to imagine circumstances where any court or jury would fail to find criminal intent in this particular case given those details.
If someone borrows something and then gets lost in the woods and dies, it's not theft because there wasn't intent.
You are correct that these cases hinge on intent.
A lot of the law is based on intent - did you want to kill Jack or you didn't see him when you reversed with your forklift?
So the intent there matters. What this guy can argue in a court is that the risk was misrepresented by the company, and then it becomes theft if he can prove that he was duped into this contract.
The way it should be structured is, you let the item out to intermediary (who takes legal possession if not physical) and they in turn are on the hook for any loss, when re-let to a third party, at which point they would do a better job of betting at insuring themselves.
The NY state attorney general should be looking at these unfair and asymmetrical arrangements (especially when they are basically EULAs)
Maybe the latter is covered by business logic, maybe not.
(Ps it's 'cahoots')
However, a class-action lawsuit to address all the wronged people would probably just bankrupt the company. The hurt people would not receive restitution. The founders would not receive any punishment. They would just lose the easy stream of future income they currently enjoy. Stopping a bad company from doing further harm is worthwhile though.
Calling out is exactly what's needed here. Our society and technology are at a point where it is easy for bad actors to cause damage, relocate, and repeat. Exposing them and shutting down their future opportunities is exactly what's necessary. Back in the days of small villages, everyone knew everyone's reputation and that provided a barrier against fraud. Unfortunately, our current legal framework prevents any company from offering a reputation platform because they would get sued out of existence with libel claims.
Investors aren't very interested in the morality (or even legal technicalities) of the products in which they invest, as long as they make some money on their investments. Calling the founder out will slow her down in any future grey-zone endeavors but won't stop her completely.
Surely there were also small villages where most commit fraud too?
"Cheat and Grudger are an ESS" in The Selfish Gene.
Since this has happened before, it would be more beneficial to society at this point to convict the owners of KitSplit of fraud and put them in prison.
If the fraud rate is too high for that to be a viable business, so be it. You should close your business or do better vetting. Otherwise this is just Craigslist with a 22% commission, a deal nobody would take. (Do you ever see posts on Craigslist that say "use my $3500 camera for a day for $70"? No? That's because it's crazy and nobody would ever do that. A company has the power to have contracts and vetting; and yet KitSplit cheaped out and does nothing. It makes me mad and I just heard about them five minutes ago.)
I just don't understand this line of thinking at all. You rent something out for a specific and agreed upon period of time. The person decides to keep the thing you rented out. And it's not theft? Also how is it not lost?
I rent a camera from you for $70 a day, ostensibly for one day. My shoot doesn’t work out, so I keep it for three days. Did I commit theft?
Obviously, when I return it three days later, it is not theft. We can argue whether I owe you $70, $210, or much more, but to the police, that is very much a civil argument.
Now consider the situation between when I agreed to return it and when I actually returned it, like the day after it was due back.
Have I stolen the camera? No, we just disagree on the terms of a transaction where you voluntarily rented me a camera.
This “Mark” individual seemed to use fraud (photoshopping id?) to rent the camera, and that ought to be a crime in itself. But if he rented it in his own name, and the police showed up at his door, and he returned the camera, he could argue that he was renting it for a year, and how much he owes is a civil matter.
I don’t like this line of reasoning myself, but I can see why the police and insurance companies take the line that if you voluntarily give something to someone, it is not theft if they don’t return it, it is a dispute over the terms and conditions of your giving them the chattel.
I'm actually curious as to what happens in the cases of delinquent renters - but I assume it involves things like court orders, or perhaps they just try to find the car and tow it away under existing repo laws, then send the account to collections.
But if you rent your camera out every day, eventually some fraudster will steal it by not returning it. And the risk of that happening likely depends on how well the renter is screening prospective renters. That makes it tough to insure. KikSplit says its a 1/1000 occurrence, but you can't just charge a .1% premium because if KikSplit does a shitty job of keeping out fraudsters, then it might be 2/100. Things that are tough to insure are expensive to insure.
It would be interesting if someone stole for the first time like this. They could decide first to take the chance to steal it, and once they have the potentially stolen goods, decide whether or not to return it. Then the moment where they became a thief would be a fuzzy period of time between the time it was agreed to return it to the time he sold the equipment to a third party.
These things seem to come and go in cycles. Airbnb and Uber faced several similar trust & safety issues of their own before they started building in much stronger safety and insurance protections and, crucially, convincing their customer base to continue trusting them. Now that their hard work has once again given people confidence in the P2P rental model, these upstarts are swooping in with none of the protections and reaping the benefits.
Change the scene to that of a CEO who defrauds investors. The money was "voluntarily parted" by the investor; she didn't break into their house and steal the money. The money was obtained through fraud.
So "fraud", "theft through fraud", and yes, "voluntary parting".
For example, close a drain and turn on a faucet.
> KitSplit Short Term Insurance and Damage Coverage Options:
> Accidents happen, but on KitSplit you are always covered. Owners: rest assured that we require renters to purchase insurance, a damage waiver, or leave a full deposit. Renters: you have the choice of three kinds of coverage: you can purchase short-term coverage through our site, you can upload a certificate of insurance, or you can leave a deposit for the value of the equipment. Read more about coverage here.
I'm sure they have their loopholes in order, but damn this is deceptive.
1. Certification of renters insurance with the renters information, which if fake is fraud.
2. A waiver of some kind covering damage to the item, probably out of pocket I-accept-all-risk type signed by the renter, which if fake is fraud.
3. Full deposit of the rented gear to payout to the owner if lost/stolen/damaged, which if declined may be fraud or at least grounds to stop the transaction and protect the owner.
Meaning there is either enough info to find the renter at least for a civil suite or there is fraud. Who is liable for fraud here? Legally I'm not sure but based on the reply and posturing from KitSplit I'd say they are. Based on this info I'm not going to use or advocate their platform.
It looks like the renter went for the deposit option but the transaction was declined. Kitsplit should have stopped the transaction there, minimum. One can't claim to be 99.99% perfect then do nothing in response to the .01% where clients lose thousands from theft on a a technicality.
It's best to think of these kind of sites as digital telephone poles with flyers and act accordingly, but it's hard when, in an attempt to grow their user base, they exaggerate the value they offer and make people think they're safer or getting more out of them than they really offer. Those kind of tactics deserve to be called out
It works I win, it doesn't you lose!
The risk to reward ratio for this doesn't work for me.
The risk profile for fraud is very different from accidents, which is why it's harder to insure against fraud, but also why you really need that insurance (or a deposit, or whatever).
And I expect to see all kinds of modern ways of theft popping up everywhere.
A lawyer 100% told some exec how to craft their legalese to appear to cover theft, but would not actually make KitSplit liable in the event of said theft.
Hanlon's razor doesn't apply here. Never assume these companies, which have all the facts and all the cards stacked in their favor, are acting out of incompetence or obliviousness. They know. They also know they won't be held accountable. The last time (7 months ago) KitSplit pulled this, they paid out to the guy who got his stuff stolen and everyone quieted down.
That's just the cost of doing business.
You've already done most of the legwork on this. Now all you need to do is get this into small claims court.
Trust me: once KitSplit gets that notification from the court that they're being hauled into court and are going to need to hire a lawyer to defend themselves, you're gonna be working with a whole different level of people at Kitsplit. That's your best chance to get compensated.
SUE THE BASTARDS.
When they have to hire a lawyer and you don't but you know the balance of facts are on your side, it's an advantage.
The goal is to get them to the table and choose a less painful resolution. Don't let them off the hook. SUE!
In a handful of states, including California, Michigan, and Nebraska, you must appear in small claims court on your own. In many states, however, you can be represented by a lawyer if you like. But even where it's allowed, hiring a lawyer is rarely cost efficient. Most lawyers charge too much compared to the relatively modest amounts of money involved in small claims disputes. Happily, several studies show that people who represent themselves in small claims cases usually do just as well as those who have a lawyer.
Individual people have the option of hiring a lawyer in some states but most don't. Corporations on the other hand, because they are "legal" and not "natural" persons don't get that right. They must be represented by counsel. A corporation can't represent itself in court because it's not a "natural person". They MUST use a lawyer.
I'm not a lawyer but was once my former employer's agent in court in a small claims suit we filed against HP. I assure you there's no requirement that corporate parties be represented by lawyers.
Small Claims: $10K or less ($5K if plaintiff is a business), only asking for money.
Limited Civil: $25K or less, only asking for money.
Unlimited Civil: More than $25K AND/OR asking for something other than money.
As an individual suing a company you absolutely would NOT want to file in Limited Civil if you had the option of filing in Small Claims, among other reasons because in Limited Civil the company you're suing can be represented by a lawyer and the filing fees are considerably more expensive.
On the east coast (NYC in particular), things are a bit more sane in some ways and a bit crazier in others.
Of course, this is all inside baseball. As a practical matter, it's HIGHLY LIKELY that this will never get before a judge. No corporation is going to send their CEO to court to argue a case and if they can't send a lawyer to small claims, they will just submit a motion to move the case to regular civil court because reasons.
Of course, if that happens, then they've already lost. It will be FAR more expensive to litigate in plain old civil court.
For the record, IANAL but I've hired and fired a bunch of them and done this dance a few times already on both sides of the coin. Bunch of lawyer friends too. One of them was just on TV doing a press conference for his client, a Navy SEAL.
1. None of this is weird. NY has even more kinds of courts than CA does, including "limited" courts just like CA. I consult on lawsuits around the country, including in various courts in CA and NY, and NY is at least as screwy as CA in every meaningful way I can think of.
2. To the contrary, small claims suits are highly likely to make it in front of a judge. In fact, that's just about the only place they're likely to go because small claims courts strongly discourage the use of pretrial motions. A business that is sued is not required to send the CEO just because they're not allowed to send a lawyer. They can either send a regular employee or they can send no one, in which case they're more or less guaranteed to lose by default.
3. A defendant can't remove a properly filed small claims suit to a higher court just because they feel like it. The small claims venue either has to be improper or there have to be some very unusual extenuating circumstances for the courts to even consider removal. There's an abundance of case law on this, and for good reason, including in NY.
Now...if we can get back to your points.
Cite sources for your assertions. You say there is plenty of NY case law then cite a couple of examples. You say that small claims cases are more likely to end up in front of a judge. How do you know this? Are you taking into account the number of cases that are dismissed because the two parties reached an agreement before trial that resolved the issue?
If you're an expert on the law and you think I'm not then PUHLEEZE demonstrate something besides an ability to google counterexamples.
When you've been sued and had to sue people you quickly develop an appreciation for how the legal system REALLY works and how lawsuits are a tool for negotiation. I will tell you that I've sued a handful of people and none of those times did we actually go to trial. We settled because the cost of a trial would have far exceeded the disputed amount.
The one time I was sued in small claims, I settled. I actually settled IN THE COURTROOM and informed the judge that he could dismiss the case.
Get some time on the pond, kid. Otherwise, go kick rocks.
1) Here are three from NY (there's isn't much more case law than this because small claims cases-- to my point-- are rarely removed to higher courts):
1a) Shaw v Point Lookout Toys, LLC., 58 Misc. 3d 789: "While the court appreciates the defendants' concerns, they must be weighed against the "salutary purposes of Small Claims Courts which is to provide a simple, informal and inexpensive procedure for the prompt determination of claims within its jurisdiction" (Kilinski v Melendez, 182 Misc 2d 55, 57, 696 NYS2d 780 [Sup Ct, Nassau County 1999], citing UDCA 1802 [the UCCA 1802 counterpart applicable to District Court]). Indeed, these underpinnings of small claims court have been deemed a substantial right to which parties are entitled."
1b) Fordham Rent A Car Corp. v. Hyman, 109 Misc. 2d 176 : "For this court to direct the removal of the small claims action would ignore the intended purpose of the 1979 amendment of subdivision (b) of section 1805 of the New York City Civil Court Act (CCA) which seeks to prevent divestiture of small claims jurisdiction"
1c) Moise v Brown (26 Misc 3d 1224[A], 907 NYS2d 438, 2010 NY Slip Op 50243[U] [Sup Ct, Kings County 2010]) : "Transfer and consolidation here, therefore, would prejudice a substantial right of defendant Keon K. Brown, that is, the right to have his claim resolved according to the standard and rules applicable in the Small Claims Part of Civil Court, whereas allowing the Small Claims action to proceed would not prejudice Plaintiff in this action."
2. I'm not saying the cases don't settle. I'm saying that small claims cases which don't settle almost always go before a judge. They are rarely disposed of by pretrial motions because small claims courts strongly discourage and in some instances prohibit pretrial motions. In CA, for example, a defendant could file a motion to dismiss but that's about it. Other means of disposing cases (e.g. summary judgment) are unavailable.
I imagine you can't have outside counsel represent you, but the business can probably send their own lawyer and delegate authority to them.
The corporation doesn't need to be represented by an officer or director, however, they can also be represented by a non-attorney employee: "a corporation may appear and participate in a small claims action only through a regular employee, or a duly appointed or elected officer or director, who is employed, appointed, or elected for purposes other than solely representing the corporation in small claims court."
Court sucks. Any lawyer will tell you that you don't want the judge making the decision for you. They'll buy you a new camera if they are smart and fix their process.
Otherwise they will spend a lot more on lawyers than they ever would making you whole.
And yes, some companies get sued ALL THE TIME.