GringoPost | Ecuador: Rating system for services

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Rating system for services

This post is general and not specific to any one individual or firm, but I have read many posts by others dealing with the frustrations of choosing an ethical professional for services ranging from health care and insurance to contracts and legal issues. Due to Ecuador's policies on libel, there is a potential for conflict between what some have referred to as free speech and others have explained as a need to kowtow to a policy that protects reputations at the expense of truth.

I will start by referring to lawyers since gringos almost always begin their migration process with a need for documents in order to obtain visas and cedulas. I think it is perfectly within the law to allow a rating system, say one to five stars, but what I would like to suggest is that prospective clients do some homework.

In theory, students of law begin with some sort of interest in right and wrong, but the system itself promotes conflict rather than ethics. By this, I mean that there might be lawyers who can make a living by only creating documents. They can probably assist with visas and contracts. However, the moment there is a conflict, the duty is to protect the interests of the client rather than to determine what is right and what is wrong. This, sad to say, operates against the conscience as well as the spirit of the law. The letter of the law was never intended to destroy the spirit of the law so some screening questions might reduce the likelihood of ending up in court or discovering that the lawyer lost his or her concern for right or wrong the moment the first duty to the client came into conflict with higher oaths such as to the Constitution or Spirit itself.

One might be able to screen some possible hires by a series of questions, but the problem is that once someone has suffered the conflicts between conscience and duty to the client, the moral rudder has been dinged, and it is no longer clear how this is going to play out over the course of a long career.

My purpose is to draw attention not simply to the risk that an individual or firm may have all sorts of conflicts of interest as well as backdoor relationships to lawyers representing the other party, but to develop a rating system that reveals competency, efficiency, clarity of communications, ethics, and loyalty to the customer. As we all probably realize, the rat race of making a living often undermines the willingness to approach jobs responsibly and fairly. It is not just a matter of billing for the right number of hours, but also of escalating complications in order to earn more. This can happen in many professions, even domestic services and health care, so we should not underestimate the capacity of individuals for manipulating details in a way that pads their bills. I think that in a society with many traditional ties, there is also the risk that gringos will be sold out due to conflicts of interest.

The reason for Ecuador's extreme protection for libel must be obvious, but the need for revealing the level of actual customer satisfaction is also important. I have considered moving to Ecuador for some years. I am not deterred as much by exaggeration of the importance of compliance as I am by competency and incompetency. That said, I do not think this issue is unique to Ecuador. On each trip I have made, I had to cover my bases at home and responsible critter sitting is as much an issue here as anywhere. It is also a source of major anxiety when the tasks are not handled as one would wish. In short, if gringos get a bit concerned, it may be good in the long run as it will tend to foster a desire for high ratings rather than padded bills. Obviously, gringos can appear to be easy targets for greedy and perhaps desperate persons with services to offer, but I think there are workarounds. There are also enough gringos with time on their hands to create some basic lists that cover the types of services offered and estimated fees.

This means that over and above the frustrations of standing in line for hours only to find that the person in charge did not come to work that day, one also has a reliable reference to who else provides similar services, what the services should cost, and possible questions to ask before hiring. I think this would be very helpful for everything from airport shuttling and visas to the fees charged for registering titles to properties.

I do not want to write in greater detail at this time. I am merely reacting to posts I have read where frustrations were vented. There is no reason at all that rating system cannot be created. What I have observed is that with the advent of the Internet, rating systems have generally fostered higher standards, this whether reviewing a book or a licensed professional. While I resist the monopolies that have arisen, I think there are better and better ways to avoid becoming the victim of scams.

This said, a final remark is that nearly all migration processes involve some level of compliance with laws, and we see many lawyers specializing in immigration, but when it comes to issues involving properties and businesses, it is obviously very important that the person doing the work is competent and not in a conflict of interest position. I feel we have a right to score performance based on a number of points that ultimately do matter. Think about it. I have read posts about wills and inheritance, about health care, about real estate, and, of course, I have my own stories to tell.

Ingrid