I facilitated an intriguing case that required the wisdom of King Solomon, In fact, I sent the case back to the courts since it was not suitable for mediation. The case centered on the consumer's word against that of the retailer. The dealer claimed that a cash deposit of $2,000.00 was not paid and demanded the monies six weeks after the customer took possession of a major purchase transacted by a long term and trusted dealer salesperson. At the time of the mediation session, the customer possessed the merchandise for 18 weeks. The customer averred that he paid cash and that the salesperson took the cash to the business office for posting. A receipt for the cash payment was not given to the customer. The dealer sales manager stated that this could never happen in his dealership because of the salesperson's integrity, track record, and impeccable standing. The dealer wanted the full payment of $2,000 with some room for negotiation, while the customer refused to pay any more monies since he previously delivered the required down payment in cash.
As I followed the mediation process, it became apparent that neither side would budge from their respective positions. I finally told the disputants that it seemed to me that they expected me to rule in favor of one side vs. the other. I explained that this was not my role and so we concluded the meeting with both sides determined to have their day in court.
The lesson learned was to discern the expectations of both parties decisively and quickly based on all of the pertinent facts and the exploration of their respective positions. In the words of the customer, the envelope with his $2,000 in cash sprouted wings between the sales desk and the back office. The sales manager stood by his salesperson. If a judge ruled in favor of the defendant, the dealer stated that he would require his salesperson to undergo a polygraph test. From my perspective, the dealership had a number of management issues to tackle since this type of transaction never goes forward without the receipt of the monies and the completion of the contract terms and conditions. I checked this out with a friend in the same business. Then again, it is not my job to judge who is right and who is at fault in such a case. My former boss always recommended cutting the baby in half. Neither he nor I possess the wisdom of Solomon.