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Toyota Claims Woman "Opted In" To Faux Email Stalking 667

Posted by timothy
from the give-marketing-new-prescriptions dept.
An anonymous reader writes "ABC News is reporting that a California woman is suing Toyota for $10 million for sending her email that appeared to be from a criminal stalker. The woman claims the emails terrified her to the point that she suffered sleeplessness, poor work performance, etc. Toyota says the ruse was part of a marketing campaign for the Toyota Matrix. A Toyota spokesman says they are not liable for the woman's distress, because 'The person who made this claim specifically opted in, granting her permission to receive campaign emails and other communications from Toyota.'"
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Toyota Claims Woman "Opted In" To Faux Email Stalking

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  • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:42PM (#29762051)

    Just like you have opted in to viewing kittens [goatse.fr].

  • I'm over 35 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoYob (1630681) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:43PM (#29762061)

    Saatchi & Saatchi told the marketing magazine OMMA last year that it had developed the campaign to target men under 35 who hate advertising.

    I'm over 35 and I really hate advertising now. If I did something like this, I'd be in jail awaiting trial, my name would be smeared all over the place, and my life as I know it would be over - even Saatchi & Saatchi wouldn't hire me.

    Toyota? Nothing.

    Saatchi & Saatchi? They'll probably get more business because the dipshit MBAs will think that "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

    Assholes.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sabs (255763) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:44PM (#29762069)

    Did you read the article?

    Toyota's marketing campaign was in POOR taste, although one wonders why she never reported it to the police.

    I think giving her 10 million seems high, but I think that a class action suit with everyone who got this incredibly lame marketing campaign isn't such a bad idea.

    Pretend stalking someone is a terrible idea.

    How about this:
    What if you kept getting phone calls.. that said:

    I'm coming for you.. in a mysterious raspy voice, at all times of the day.
    That would be a clear cut case of stalking and instilling fear.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 42forty-two42 (532340) <bdonlan@gmail . c om> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:44PM (#29762077) Homepage Journal
    When you sue, you ask for as much as you could ever possibly imagine to get. It doesn't mean you'll get that much; but you certainly won't get more than you ask for, so in the starting phases you just ask for the world. If she actually got $10 million, that'd be another matter.
  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NiceGeek (126629) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:48PM (#29762135)

    "Yeah, you need $10 million to cover that" - Tell me then, how do you punish a company except by a fiscal penalty?

  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:49PM (#29762137)

    How does this in any way make anyone want to buy a Toyota?

    I get that companies all want to 'push the envelope' these days so you see them over the competition, but this is just ridiculous.

    I guess that's another benefit to marking every email I don't recognise as spam.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcmm (768152) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:50PM (#29762161)

    This also makes me wonder; maybe she had something to hide because she got so scared?

    Agreed, a normal person who'd never done anything wrong would obviously assume an anonymous stranger threatening them was playing a prank on behalf of a large company. The vast majority of stalking cases are like that, and innocent people are never targeted by crazy people for no reason.

    Seriously though, WTF are you talking about?

  • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:56PM (#29762281)
    What the fuck?
  • Re:I'm over 35 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:57PM (#29762293) Journal

    Saatchi & Saatchi? They'll probably get more business because the dipshit MBAs will think that "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

    I had forgotten the existence of the Toyota Matrix until I read this article.

    When it comes to brand recognition, there IS no such thing as bad publicity. Brand association, on the other hand...

    I'll be buying a commuter car in the next year. I was leaning toward a small Honda anyway -- but this gives me one more reason to not buy a Toyota.

    That said, when it comes down to it, it'll be about prices and reviews anyway. And if this article helped me remember that Toyota offers a commuter car, then the PR campaign worked.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TakeoffZebra (1651327) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:59PM (#29762325)
    weird isn't worth $10 million...
  • by Megane (129182) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:01PM (#29762357) Homepage
    Tell that to people who pull out a fake gun when robbing a bank, or when confronted by a cop.
  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RsJtSu (569959) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:03PM (#29762391)
    This is wrong on so many levels. Next we will have companies sending us letters from Nigeria telling people they have millions of dollars and all they need to do to get it is to buy a new car. I for one am sick of companies using deceitful(all advertising is) tactics to trick/scare/lure people to their products and then when they get caught they use the "but its advertising so its OK!" line. If they would have made it clear that it was from a company and it was an advertising campaign(yes it would lose its intended effect) then I think it would be a bit different. But for them to make it appear as though a real person was traveling overseas who was in legal trouble was coming to visit a person is incredibly wrong.
  • by gpronger (1142181) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:05PM (#29762433) Journal
    I'm not quite sure how you'd word an "Op-In" agreement that would effectively cover this; "I consent to receive life threatening emails, harassed, etc."?

    In other words anything that would, in plain English, explain what you were agreeing to, no one would sign.

    And regarding $10M, though this may seem like a lot of money, the point to this type of suit is deterrent, and at $10M, I doubt that it is.
  • Re:I'm over 35 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:06PM (#29762449) Homepage
    Saatchi & Saatchi? They'll probably get more business because the dipshit MBAs will think that "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

    The people in advertising firms make MBAs look well-grounded in reality by comparison.
  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:10PM (#29762537) Homepage

    Maybe, but terrifying sure is. Victims of stalking find that they are incapable of doing day-to-day things. The lady had a legitimate fear, she told her friends, then she later was ridiculed for those fears. This is all the fault of Toyota.

    I for one hope that she wins the whole $10 million. Maybe only that way will dumb-ass marketers start *thinking* about what they do!

  • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:11PM (#29762549) Homepage Journal

    It's not the simple. Taking an 10 million dollar hit inpacts the stocks, and in fact their market values can drop by MORE then 10 million dollars. This impacts bonuses of the top executives.

    "sued McDonalds because they didn't warn *coffee* was *hot*"

    that's not true at all. They intentionally kept it hotter then needed to be in order to maximize there profit, and they had ignored at least 2 warning to stop keeping it that hot.

    And she did not get rich.

  • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:12PM (#29762555) Homepage
    While that certainly would fulfill our baser desires for revenge, it would have a ton of consequences for a lot of innocent people. You would be putting tens of thousands of people out of work because something only a tiny fraction of them had anything to do with, or any knowledge of.
  • Re:I'm over 35 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Interoperable (1651953) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:15PM (#29762621)

    I think Toyota should be issued a restraining order to never contact this person again. Next time a flyer with a Toyota ad in it arrives at her door...jail time for the execs.

    Seriously though, people in the company need to be held personally accountable. As you pointed out, litigation clearly isn't effective to prevent companies from doing things like this.

    The Toyota and Saatchi marketing directors really should be dealt with as if they had stalked this woman. Similarly, those responsible for IKEA's "let's spray paint 'this space could be beautiful' on public and private property" campaign should be formally charged with vandalism.

  • Re:Scared? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sofar (317980) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:21PM (#29762729) Homepage

    maybe, but Toyota overstepped a line, and it's her due right to try to make them accountable.

    In the end, Toyota impersonated another person and royally overstepped the boundary of the agreement with her to send her marketing messages from Toyota.

    Consider: If I grant access to my restricted private house to friend X, I can surely legally restrict that same person if he impersonates another person. According to the original agreement I must provide access to friend X, but I have no legal way to distinguish between friend X and what he impersonates, so I can clearly deny him access. The same holds for Toyota: they cannot impersonate the US President, the Police and waive this lawsuit away by saying that they had the right to send messages. While impersonating the Police is a felony (obviously), impersonating someone random immediately voids the e-mail agreement, since there is no way for the "victim" here to distinguish between them. (Toyota can send her messages, vs. Toyota impersonating a stalker).

    IOW, this is in terrible bad taste. Toyota screwed up badly, and the law will likely be against them.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:23PM (#29762755) Homepage

    No, but if you make $9 million in profit and lose $10 million in a lawsuit, then they'll not do the marketing campaign again. Even if they make $12 million from the campaign (doubtful), the return becomes so small that it's not worth them doing any more. Further to this, hopefully the arsehole marketer who came up with the idea loses a job or some advertising agency loses revenue as Toyota moves to another company.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:24PM (#29762769) Journal

    They sure did. Very creepy, and no doubt terrifying at the time... ummm...

    Except if it was so terrifying, why did she do everything but call the police, who have the powers to actually investigate things like this and would have probably figured out in about 5 minutes who sent the emails? Why make her boyfriend sit by the bed with a club, when she's getting notices from someone who sounds like a hardened and probably ARMED criminal that they are coming for a visit? If this were a real event, she and her boyfriend would likely be dead by now.

    Why sit cowering in your home for FIVE DAYS then claim you were unable to live your life for MONTHS, when a quick three-digit phone call ("911", in case anyone has forgotten the number) would have started an investigation that would have rapidly debunked it in a hurry? Toyota would have no doubt issued a deep apology to avoid a lawsuit, suffered some well-deserved bad press, and Ms. Duick could have gone about her life with nothing more than a probable (and understandable) lifetime hatred/contempt of Toyota Motor Company, and not a long-term debilitating fear.

    I'm not saying Toyota was in the right here. No way. This was just plain effing stupid.

    I think both parties are clearly in the wrong. Toyota's actions were reprehensible and deserving of punishment, but Ms. Duick's response (or utter lack thereof) certainly gave Toyota no indication of the harm they were causing to her. They thought they had agreement, she was unaware of the agreement, they acted stupidly, and she didn't do anything useful to help herself until after she found out it was a prank ad campaign.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29762777)
    I don't think she needs the $10 million; it couldn't have done that much harm to her.

    On the other hand, reading the article, I have no problem with Toyota being FINED $10 million, in order to prevent them or any other company from repeating that behavior. What an unbelievably stupid thing they did.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29762785) Homepage Journal
    Welcome to corporate Absurdistan [americanpolicegroup.com] worldwide, my friend.

    You can't run, you can't hide,
    from no morals and no pride!
  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Marful (861873) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#29762789)

    weird isn't worth $10 million...

    Isn't worth 10 million?

    Why don't we stop and think about this for a moment...

    When you sell something, say your car, do you always offer the buyer your lowest price in hopes that he increases his offer as negotiations progress? Or do you, oh I don't know this may sound crazy, offer your highest price because he is going to negotiate it down?


    You do realize that the $10,000,000 figure is the attorney's opening bid, to which the courts and the defendant (toyota) will argue the value down.

    Very rarely do people ever argue the price they are willing to pay up.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:28PM (#29762819) Homepage

    Maybe, but terrifying sure is. Victims of stalking find that they are incapable of doing day-to-day things. The lady had a legitimate fear, she told her friends, then she later was ridiculed for those fears. This is all the fault of Toyota.

    I for one hope that she wins the whole $10 million. Maybe only that way will dumb-ass marketers start *thinking* about what they do!

    I suspect (but do not know) that once we see the actual emails there's no way on earth anyone with an IQ above retarded would believe it was real. Have you ever seen one of these campaigns? Even imbeciles know they're fake.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameMaster (148118) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:28PM (#29762821)

    On the one hand, $10 million isn't something to sneeze at, even for a company with $200 billion in yearly revenue. That $10 million represents a lot of lower level employee's worth of salary which might lead to lots of average Joes getting layed off (face it, it won't be the execs. that feel the hurt). On the other hand, it sounds, to me, like they, honestly, earned the punishment (though, perhaps somewhat less than what she's asking) on this one. It isn't reasonable to say that just because she checked a box somewhere agreeing to accept marketing communications from a company that she should expect those communications to take the form of a simulated stalking. What next, are they going to go door to door in white robes burning crosses on people's front lawns to drum up attention for next year's Carolla?

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:30PM (#29762847) Homepage

    I'm guessing she consented to the usual sort of car ad - pictures of the car in question with a model sitting on the bonnet or in the passenger seat, some blurb about how wonderful it is, and details of how to go about buying one, not fake stalking emails.

  • I don't understand North American business and advertising in general.

    When you want nothing to do with them, they call you during dinner with things you don't want and don't need. When you do need them, because something is wrong with their product, they let you talk to machines until you get fed up.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:33PM (#29762891)
    Bull. It means that a $50,000 marketing program ran by three people in the marketing department now has a $10,000,000 overrun. It means people will be fired, it means policies will be changed. You think the boss of the people responsible will think "Eh, ten million, we make that much money in six hours. No worries."? That's not how business works.
  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quothz (683368) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:39PM (#29762981) Journal

    One solution is to apply the very same punitive penalty, but award the punitive part of it to a fund/charity. In essence, whenever a major company causes somebody harm, that person is eligible to receive whatever amount is considered reasonable depending on the damages. In addition to that, the company is also fined an amount that is relative to its size and financial status, simply as a form of punishment. The latter amount never comes in contact with the victim.

    The elegant thing about giving victims the penalty money is that it encourages them to take on litigation. A lawsuit is expensive, risky, and time-consuming. Without motivating litigants and lawyers with potential rewards, the powerful would be much freer to abuse the weak. In your system, this lady would stand to win at most a few thousand in actual damages, but would risk losing tens of thousands in costs should Toyota prevail. Further, all the good lawyers would be on salary or retainer for large companies; few would be willing to work for a chance to get paid a reasonable hourly rate.

    It's good to keep large companies walking on eggshells when it comes to causing harm, and the current tort system is the best way we know to do so that we can afford.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rsborg (111459) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:41PM (#29762993) Homepage

    I think a week in jail for the VP of marketing will do much more. But a week is probably all this is worth.

    I'd prefer that but then again, I wasn't the one who was stalked, and a week of jail time won't do restitution to the harmed. Maybe combine it and let the VP of marketing be her bitch for a week?
    One thing's for sure: when people are harmed, law as it applies to corporations should be a lot more personal and pierce the corporate veil. That would rectify a LOT of stupidity done in the search for profits.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:49PM (#29763107)

    If Toyota wants to argue that the fine print spelled it out and it's her fault she didn't read it carefully enough, maybe they can win the case through legalistic hairsplitting. But if they buried it in fine print and incomprehensible language, they're jerks no matter what.

    If I give someone my email address and at the same time click a checkbox that says subscribe to correspondence, then it's as informed as you get. Result: I get emails. Maybe the fineprint deep in there somewhere states what will and what won't be sent, but as far as I am concerned, anything is fair game. "Here's my email address, send me stuff." If I end up with too much crap that's rubbish, I click the unsubscribe bit and be done with it. That's it. No silly $10 million dollar goldmine.

  • Re:Scared? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:49PM (#29763111)

    What is with the 'victimization' culture these days?

    You mean, among people who have genuine greviances? Yeah, I know! The "victims" of my pyramid scheme have SUCH a sense of entitlement!

    Grow a pair and make some more money for me to steal.

    I tried telling the judge that many of the people I ripped off weren't even trying to get new jobs at say, Mc Donalds to earn more money, so they obviously weren't hurt enough to change anything about their life. Jerks.

    Sincerely,
    Bernie Maddoff

  • by Kozz (7764) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:52PM (#29763151)

    Uhm, I think that any means of obscuring the truth on the part of Toyota et al would render the "contract" invalid. Seems to me it's most certainly not informed consent, and is a bad faith contract. Of course I'm not a lawyer and have no idea what I'm talking about.

  • by Snaller (147050) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:57PM (#29763205) Journal

    "I think it's less to do with creating a good image of Toyota and more to do with getting people thinking about Toyota. "

    It's working! I'm thinking: 'Toyota, what a bunch of assholes!'

  • Re:Scared? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:59PM (#29763221) Homepage

    Advertising is fine, but as soon as you cross that line from advertising into the land of criminal harassment then we've got a serious problem. While I'm up in Canada, I'd be much happier to see criminal harassment charges filed against the entire company. See unless you've actually dealt with people who've been victims of this stuff, seen how the system has failed people, and how the ball has been dropped you really don't have a clue as to what can go wrong.

    I don't have any problems with her going after them for this. Not only did they cross the line, they crossed the line into a felony in my book. "Opting in" be damned, you're either dense, or simply heartless if you think that way.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:03PM (#29763255) Homepage

    And she did not get rich.

    Yeah. And talk about bad PR. I don't know why people are so quick to defend corporations, but Ms. Liebeck really took it on the chin when all she wanted were her medical bills paid. Given the circumstances, the request was more than reasonable.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by czarangelus (805501) <iapetusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:09PM (#29763321)
    Not everyone wants the police in their home, rifling through their possessions, looting^w removing their computer, video game consoles, and HDTVs as "evidence," and otherwise violating their privacy.
  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scot4875 (542869) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:10PM (#29763335) Homepage

    You have probably an overly optimistic guess as to what the police would have done. (On top of that, the article does not specify one way or the other whether or not she called the police)

    Here's my guess about what that 911 call would have sounded like:

    911) What's your emergency?
    Woman) A man is coming to my house.
    911) Who is the man, and has he threatened you?
    Woman) I don't know, and no, he hasn't threatened me. He's just coming to my house.
    911) You don't know who the man is?
    Woman) No, I only got an email. I've never met him.
    911) I'm sorry, unless there is a man in your presence who has made a credible threat against you or physically assaulted you, we can't do anything. Have a nice day.

    --Jeremy

  • Re:I'm over 35 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stonecypher (118140) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {rehpycenots}> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:14PM (#29763375) Homepage Journal

    There is such a thing as bad publicity, and you can very easily help end this.

    Call your local dealerships and tell them that though you're a loyal Toyota customer, as a result of the Amber Duick situation and the way corporate has pretended there's nothing wrong with the situation, you apologize, but you cannot in good conscience remain a Toyota customer. Be polite, and be prepared to explain and to provide reference.

    Then call Toyota and do the same. Toyota's toll free is 800-331-4331, and extension 5 is specifically dedicated to telling Toyota about experiences you've had with their company.

    Tie up each call with "if Toyota were to publically apologize, release Saatchi and Saatchi from advertising and release Chad Harp from spokesmanship, I would be able to believe that this was a temporary oversight. As long as the company and individual who allowed this to happen retain their positions, I must conclude that Toyota believes that fake stalking by a man on the run from the law claiming to be ready to show up at the customer's home is an appropriate marketing behavior, and I cannot do business with you again."

    Ask that the dealerships contact corporate and explain that they're losing customers as a result of Toyota believing that it's appropriate to pretend to stalk their customers.

    They'll listen if they think their bottom line is at risk.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wytcld (179112) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:29PM (#29763531) Homepage

    I suspect (but do not know) that once we see the actual emails there's no way on earth anyone with an IQ above retarded would believe it was real.

    Man, you've got your headquarters in your hindquarters. No offense. Even if we grant your premise, that some large proportion of people would spot the campaign as fake, you have to remember that (1) Telling lies from truth is different from IQ. Some very bright people are extremely gullible, some very dull people have an unerring radar for falsehoods. (2) It's neither morally nor legally permissible to purposely scare the hell out of someone merely because they're less intelligent. (3) Many tens of thousands of people - mostly women - are stalked each year in this great nation, and a portion of them murdered by their stalkers. So a campaign like this odds are will reach some of them, who already know that stalking threats are real, have already been stalked, and just like a veteran hearing a backfire and finding himself back in battle, can easily be returned to the real psychological state - even by an instance they intellectually know is fake.

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... x.com minus berr> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:33PM (#29763573) Homepage

    I used to be in favor of the 'corporate death penalty', and I still am, but only in a certain way.

    We shouldn't break the company. What we should do is fire all corporate executives (Everyone who legally empowered to agree to contracts.), and the board of directors, cancel all stock and leave it operated by the government for a while. (1) They will run it basically as before, and also do a housecleaning to find illegal behaviors that have become ingrained in the company.

    It then, after about a month, publish balance sheets and stuff so that people can see how it's doing. Then the company should issue new stock, under a new stock symbol, on the stock exchange, so people can purchase it. And the new owners will, presumably, elect a new board of directors, etc, and the temporary executives put in by the government will resign.

    I.e., we don't need to dissolve the company if they commit crimes. We need to fire the people who ran the company in a criminal manner, and we need to take it away from the owners who let the company get run in a criminal manner. Then we clean it up, and sell it to whoever's willing to pay for it.

    'The company', as an abstract entity that presumably provides some actual services, and employs a bunch of people, can continue to exist. So 'death penalty' isn't really the right word. Let's call it corporate forfeiture. (Hey, if we call it that, does that mean we don't have to have a trial?)

    1) The government running a company, incidentally, is not without precedent, especially during bankruptcy. The federal government does assume caretaker responsibility of some business, the most famous example being when it found itself running a brothel in Nevada for about a year.

  • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SeattleGameboy (641456) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:44PM (#29763687) Journal

    Just because there were complaints, does not mean that McDonalds was at fault. Many people like their coffee piping hot. McDonalds was trying to satisfy their custmers. Some don't like it, some do. Just because there were people complaining about it does not make it wrong.

    The lady was 79 years old. My guess is, this was not her first time geting a coffee at McDonalds. If it is so damn hot and dangerous, why didn't she buy her coffee somewhere else? Why didn't she ask for OJ instead of coffee.

    Just because something has potential to do harm does not mean that it is bad. She had a choice to take her business where coffee would have been cooler. She decided to go to McDonalds knowing what kind of coffee they serve. While I feel bad for her ordeal, she is an adult and need to take some responsibility for her mistakes.

  • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:51PM (#29763753) Homepage

    1) most of the time people suing corporations are lazy people that want to get rich

    Here's a radical question: do you have any idea if this is true?

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:57PM (#29763801) Homepage

    I suspect (but do not know) that once we see the actual emails there's no way on earth anyone with an IQ above retarded would believe it was real.

    Man, you've got your headquarters in your hindquarters. No offense.

    No offense taken.

    (1) Telling lies from truth is different from IQ. Some very bright people are extremely gullible, some very dull people have an unerring radar for falsehoods.

    Perhaps I used the wrong semantics. I don't mean that literally. What I meant is that a reasonable person would be able to understand that it isn't "real". It appears likely to me that this woman is just greedy. But as I said I've not seen the campaign materials, so it's just what I suspect based on my knowledge of similar "viral" marketing.

    (2) It's neither morally nor legally permissible to purposely scare the hell out of someone merely because they're less intelligent.

    I'm really not sure how to respond to this, except to say that I believe thinking like this created the concept of Politically Correct speech. You need to ask yourself if this woman had a reasonable reaction. It's safe to assume that Toyota doesn't think they can sell cars by scaring the hell out of people.

    (3) Many tens of thousands of people - mostly women - are stalked each year in this great nation, and a portion of them murdered by their stalkers. So a campaign like this odds are will reach some of them, who already know that stalking threats are real, have already been stalked, and just like a veteran hearing a backfire and finding himself back in battle, can easily be returned to the real psychological state - even by an instance they intellectually know is fake.

    I understand what you're saying, but would it not be a more reasonable to contact law enforcement and seek protection, then sue? Her lawyer wouldn't say if she had or not, but I'm confident if she had actually called the cops then she'd be suing them, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:01PM (#29763835)

    Not that hard to understand... they call you when they want you to buy something, and they run away when you might cost them money to fix something they sold you? How is that hard to understand?

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:01PM (#29763841) Homepage
    I assume this kitten [tubgirl.com] is the winner? Or am I old and not up on the new shock sites?

    *disclaimer: I haven't tested the link, being at work and all. I have no idea if it still works.
  • Re:Yep (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:04PM (#29763887)

    700 complaints over a decade (wherein BILLIONS of cups were sold) leading to a lower incidence rate than being struck by lightning.

    http://overlawyered.com/2005/10/urban-legends-and-stella-liebeck-and-the-mcdonalds-coffee-case/

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by multisync (218450) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:07PM (#29763911) Journal

    There is no common sense in the US courts. Just see the "Warning! Hot coffee is hot!" sign in McDonalds.

    Maybe McDonalds wouldn't need warning signs if they didn't serve coffee at temperatures that can cause third-degree burns after 2-7 seconds of exposure.

    Maybe McDonalds wouldn't need warning signs if they had simply helped the 79-year-old victim with her $11,000 in medical expenses, or accepted her later settlement offers of $90,000 and $300,000.

    Maybe Mcdonalds wouldn't need warning signs if documents obtained from Mcdonalds didn't establish that more than 700 people were burned to various degrees by Mcdonalds coffee between 1982 - 1992.

    Maybe you need to come up with a better example of a lack of "common sense" in US courts, and why such a concept should be a factor in determining the merits of a case.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:08PM (#29763927)
    So it's ok to frighten and harass people, as long as they're imbeciles?
  • Ok, um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@gma i l . c om> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @07:24PM (#29764545) Homepage Journal
    Anyone else feel we're not getting the whole story here? Descriptions of emails and events -- but I saw nothing that sounded threatening. Then there's the fact that she "made" her boyfriend sleep with a can of mace... but never called the cops. Methinks there's more here than we're hearing.
  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... x.com minus berr> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @07:32PM (#29764607) Homepage

    Yes. I love how libertarians have perfect faith in torts as the only mechanism required to regulate corporate behavior, but when someone tries to do exactly that, it's all whiners and losers trying to make a buck.

    This is what pisses me off when 'conservatives' start whining about 'tort reform'.

    Look, you either get more regulations or you let people freely sue. One or the other, or both. I think the latter leads to disasters, but it at least is somewhat consistent.

    Right now, they want to have 'tort reform' for medical stuff. Now, the reason most of those medical mistakes happen is to due to cost cutting. One less nurse to check things, one surgeon who doesn't have the time to get to know his patient, one OR cleaning crew that is doing the work of two. And someone gets the wrong pill, or a reaction to anesthesia, or an infection.

    The constant and continual reduction on staff in hospitals is the cause of probably 80% of medical malpractice. (And bad doctors are the other 20%.)

    Now, sane people would attempt to reduce the amount of mistakes, which would incidentally also reduce the amount of malpractice insurance. Like I said, either rules about this stuff, or the malpractice insurance industry exerting pressure because they're sick of paying out on lawsuits, would end up working in the long run.

    But trying to fix that would require that medical care become slightly more costly, and as it's already on the thin line of profitability, what it would actually mean is that insurance companies can't suck as much money out of them. (At least, not without killing them, and the health insurance industry is a smart enough parasite to avoid that most of the time...although there are plenty of hospitals that it has killed.)

    But the right in this county is, in fact, corporatist. They don't want to regulate companies, and they don't want to let people sue them either. They apparently don't want any constraints on their behavior at all. (And the left is about halfway there also, at least the ones who've been elected!)

  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @07:57PM (#29764751)
    That's what I think about every second Hollywood movie when I see a dozen enormous and stupid mistakes that made it past hundreds of highly skilled people working for a couple of years on it. I think it's some modern perversion of Fuedalism at work where nobody dares question the stupid ideas of the boss. The movies of Mel Gibson are a good example - shining technically perfect moments of art disrupted by plot and dialogue that ruin the entire production.
  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lost Engineer (459920) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @08:17PM (#29764877)

    Oh cool a McDonald's coffee argument.

    Maybe McDonalds wouldn't need warning signs if they didn't serve coffee at temperatures that can cause third-degree burns after 2-7 seconds of exposure.

    A temperature which apparently the vast majority of McD coffee drinkers apparently liked or did not mind.

    Maybe Mcdonalds wouldn't need warning signs if documents obtained from Mcdonalds didn't establish that more than 700 people were burned to various degrees by Mcdonalds coffee between 1982 - 1992.

    How many people were not burned? How many were burned by Starbucks? I've been burned twice this year, losing taste sensation for a whole hour.

    Certain things in life are dangerous, hot coffee being one of them. Being the victim of an accident does not entitle you to a payout. Enjoy your coffee cold when you get to work, courtesy of our tort system.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ukyoCE (106879) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @09:12PM (#29765177) Journal

    I think the point is that it's impossible to avoid frightening imbeciles. What matters what a reasonable or average person would think of these e-mails. Not what a paranoid schizophrenic thinks of them.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by multisync (218450) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @09:35PM (#29765305) Journal

    Coffee is supposed to be served in the range of 185 degrees! The National Coffee Association recommends coffee be brewed at "between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction" and drunk "immediately". If not drunk immediately, it should be "maintained at 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit."

    And groups that work with burn victims have urged the restaurant industry to serve coffee at a lower temperature, especially to customers who are in vehicles are are unable to stand up and brush spilled coffee off of themselves. The reason the victim in the McDonalds case was burned so severely is the coffee soaked in to her clothes and pooled in her seat.

    You're right, she was responsible for spilling the coffee, and shares the blame for her injuries. But the spill was not the main cause of her injuries; the temperature of the coffee was. That's why the jury found she was 20% responsible for the burns she suffered to her thighs, buttocks, and groin.

    I've often been served food in restaurants on plates that were hot enough to cause severe burns, and never has the server failed to warn me. It's a courtesy, as well as a moral and legal obligation to warn a customer of an unexpected hazard with your product. And sitting at a table is very different than being belted in to a car seat and unable to remove the hot coffee after the spill.

    The jury felt the warning on the McDonalds cup was neither large enough nor sufficient to warn of the potential danger, and that's why they found in her favour.

  • by justinlee37 (993373) on Friday October 16, 2009 @12:48AM (#29766055)

    So you've deduced that every psychologist in the world is a Freudian pseudo-scientist obsessed with fixations and dream interpretations. Congratulations, you're a douchebag who knows nothing about psychology or what psychologists do.

    Criticizing Freud is picking some pretty low-hanging fruit. Why don't you formulate an argument which postulates that B.F. Skinner wasn't a scientist and then get back to us. Good luck.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quothz (683368) on Friday October 16, 2009 @01:25AM (#29766167) Journal

    On the one hand, $10 million isn't something to sneeze at, even for a company with $200 billion in yearly revenue.

    It's one-twenty thousandth of their revenue. It would be the equivalent of a person earning $40,000 per year getting penalized two dollars. So while it's not a trivial amount in itself, it's not exactly a painful price to pay. Mind you, that's not to say I think she should ask for more; other recipients may choose to attack 'em, which would run the costs up to a noticeable hit. Also, while I think the emails were way out of line, they weren't unimaginably evil--IMO they were just a very stupid misjudgment. Nobody should get nailed to the wall, although one hopes the marketeer that approved the campaign will get a nasty lecture.

    That $10 million represents a lot of lower level employee's worth of salary which might lead to lots of average Joes getting layed off (face it, it won't be the execs. that feel the hurt).

    Nobody'd get (ahem) laid off from the sting of the bill; Toyota has more than $30B cash in hand.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rick17JJ (744063) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:59AM (#29766873)
    Brewing coffee at a high temperature is different that drinking it at that temperature. When I make coffee at home, I pour it into a ceramic coffee cup and the thermal mass of coffee cup, quickly absorbs just the right amount of heat. That is not true of a styrofoam cup which has very little thermal mass to initially absorb the excess heat. To make things worse the styrofoam is a very good insulator. Most people at home or in ordinary restaurants drink their coffee from ceramic coffee cups which quickly reduce the coffee to less than scalding hot. The combination of extra hot coffee and styrofoam cups, is what is so bad.

    If someone drinks their coffee black like me, there is no cream or milk or other ingredients added to dilute the heat. Scalding hot coffee in a styrofoam cup, remains too hot to drink for many minutes afterwards.

    I do not enjoy struggling to sip scalding hot coffee which burns my tongue. I also do not like having sore burned spots on my tongue and on the roof of my mouth, for the next couple of days. That sometimes happens, if I am not careful, even with coffee that is only slightly too hot.

    Coffee does need to be hot to taste good, but I have never noticed any improved taste from it being scalding hot. My personal experience is not consistent, with what your source says. Good fresh brewed coffee only needs to be hot, not scalding hot.

    Coffee only tastes good if is has been freshly brewed, not too long before serving it. The scalding hot coffee that I have had at fast food places, frequently is that terrible smelling and terrible tasting, overcooked old coffee. It sometimes smells like it has been cooked several hours earlier and kept very hot all that time. Instead of that wonderful, rich fresh fresh brewed natural coffee bean smell, it frequently has that sickeningly overpowering, disgusting strong burnt smell and taste.

    Good water is also important for good coffee. Where I live, the water tastes good, but bad tasting water can make bad tasting coffee. People such as myself who drink their coffee black, probably notice the actual taste of the coffee much more than people who add milk and sugar.
  • Re:Yep (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hattig (47930) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:27AM (#29767145) Journal

    Sorry, the court case, which heard all the details, found her 20% to blame. So your opinion is just irrelevant and invalid. You can't just say ""Shares the blame". No, she IS to blame." as if you're some higher force of knowledge and wisdom.

    McDonalds sold a product for consumption within a car that was horrendously unsafe for said scenario by being too hot for that scenario. The situation could have also been changed by having a cap that reduces spillages (and contains aromas as a side-benefit), and a sturdier container that didn't deform under mild pressure. There is an argument that they couldn't have anticipated this situation, but they had 700 accidents recorded over ten years, so ...

  • by verbatim (18390) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:52AM (#29767243) Homepage

    Whether she should or should not get money is up to the courts, of course.

    Fictitious scenario:

    - person A opts-in to "prank" campaign and provides e-mail address of person B
    - person B receives an e-mail from person A telling them of a survey
    - person B completes the survey based on a trust-relationship with person A (otherwise, they'd probably just delete the e-mail)

    Questions:

    If the survey page was overtly deceptive as to it's intent (e.g. a "personality" survey for a car advertisement campaign), is it at all reasonable to assume that person B will become a FOCUSED target of an advertisement campaign? Furthermore, has person B provided informed consent - that is, did this person have full knowledge of the intended use of her personal information (e-mail address and any other information that may have been provided)?

    The final question is: who is responsible? In my mind it's person A, the "friend" in the original story, because this person provided full informed consent AND was the reason that person B became involved at all. Without their direct action, person B would not have been involved.

    Then again, seeing Ford+Advertising Company on the hook for a stupid marketing campaign wouldn't be terrible either.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Terrifying (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nicktindall (1375739) on Friday October 16, 2009 @07:06AM (#29767293)
    I can't imagine anything more terrifying than thinking that douchebag English "football hooligan" was coming to visit... even if I did know him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:21AM (#29767755)

    When you want nothing to do with them, they call you during dinner with things you don't want and don't need. When you do need them, because something is wrong with their product, they let you talk to machines until you get fed up.

    I've never understood the complaint that they call you "during dinner". What do you think they've done research to find the specific time that *you* have dinner and deliberately called you at that time? I mean, wtf? If it's not a good time to talk, let the machine take the call...

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:34AM (#29767863) Journal

    Last I heard that particular store had been cited REPEATEDLY for violations regarding their coffee. They were intentionally cranking the heat up beyond what is normally acceptable in order to squeeze an extra few pennies out of their coffee filters. They got slapped upside the head in the lawsuit because the violations they were repeatedly cited for finally caused an injury. Now...you can argue until you are blue in the face about all the other stupid details, but at the end of the day it boiled down to "We fucking told you to knock that shit off and you didn't, now we are going to slap you upside the head in the hopes you will finally get it through your thick skulls".

    Also...205F is just a hair below boiling. Now...I would just love to watch you immediately drink a nice cup of boiling water to prove your point. I see that Coffee Association quote thrown out word for word all over the internet, but I have not been able to find a true source for it.

    As it stands now, this case gets paraded about quite a bit as an example of why we should defend big companies from anything bad happening to them. They have made this case the poster child for their cause because of how easy it is to blame the victim. By all means, continue to perpetuate the notion that companies should be protected from shitty behavior. Maybe next time we can be discussing how a company actually sent a REAL stalker to people's homes as part of a marketing campaign. Maybe we can even discuss a homeowner shooting that stalker and then being sent to jail because they had opted in! Give these idiot assholes an inch and they will take a mile, and they will take it FAR faster than the average citizens that can't afford hordes of lawyers, lobbyists, and buying judges.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvilBudMan (588716) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:40AM (#29767923) Journal

    You left out the rest like 16% 3rd degree burns, but oh well you must be a manager at McDonald's or something?

    And if you think 16% is a small number, I suggest you light a match under your finger and see how long you can hold it.

    Hey, I spilled coffee like that before and yeah it burned, but not to that level. It would have to be almost boiling to do that.

    Burn info here:
    http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/b/burns3.htm [psu.edu]

    Yeah, that's what the media did, took out a small snippet and left out the rest of the story.

    So the real deal is this is was partly her fault and partly(mostly) McDonald's. After all elderly people are people too and should be accommodated. They chose not to design a different cup, but put up a sign. Either way the lawsuit was probably figured in as a risk worth taking. $2.7 million was a bargain for them if a better cup for elderly people cost them just 0.02 cents to produce.

    That's my issue with using only numbers to solve a problem like this.

  • Re:Yep (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @11:18AM (#29769751)
    ...says the smelly Homeless thief. Read his journal. He took $400 that was not his, that was not given to him, that he did not earn, and did not attempt to find the true owner.

    Thus making him a THIEF.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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