The Instigator
Marksea15
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Kyatac14
Con (against)
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Williams V. Walker- Thomas Furniture Co. (1965)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/11/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 701 times Debate No: 54436
Debate Rounds (4)
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Marksea15

Pro

Walker-Thomas Furniture Company, operates a retail furniture store in the District of Columbia, let individuals purchase a number of household items, for in which payments are to be made in installments until the balance is paid in full. A contract in which is set forth the value of the purchased item and purported to lease the item to the purchaser for a stipulated monthly rent payment. A contract in which is provided, in substance, that the title would remain in Walker-Thomas until the total of all monthly payments are made equaled the stated value of the item, at which time appellants could take the title. On April 17, 1962, appellant Williams bought a stereo set of stated value of $514.95 and defaulted shortly on one of her monthly payments.

(1.) The business practice of the company was unconscionable.

2.) Knowing her financial instability, Walker-Thomas still chose to offer her the stereo.

3.) Walker-Thomas knew about Williams"s previous debt of a defaulted balance of $164.00 that needed to be paid off from her first previous installment loan.

(4.) Therefore, having a second argument with the purchaser would have been irrelevant; due to the fact of having a prior last purchase the appellant had reduced the balance in her account to $164.00 from the purchaser last defaulted account with the company.

At the time of this new purchase, her account showed a balance of $164.00, still owing from her prior purchases. The total of all the purchases made over the years in question came to $1,800. The total payments amounted to $14,000, so why would Walker-Thomas a "business of profession" make an unconscionable act of lending out a new contract for a stereo set, while knowing the purchaser owed money in the first place, having a defaulted installment account from the past. So from this, you can that Walker-Thomas contain poor business habits and poor decision skills as well.
Kyatac14

Con

In Williams v. Walker- Thomas Furniture Co., Plaintiff Williams has an issue with regards to the contract that she signed since 1957 due to her defaulting on an installment payment. The plaintiff has been a customer of the defendant for quite some time now and has purchased many items over the course of time having knowledge of the terms presented before her. Defendant Walker - Thomas Furniture Co. is an operating business and it is up to the customer to decide if they would like to do business with this company meaning that Williams had a choice. It is the customers responsibility to follow the contract. Since plaintiff Williams was irresponsible on her behalf, she should put herself at risk for her items possibly being repossess and she should be held accountable for the following reasons:

(1.) The items still belonged to Walker - Thomas although the customer had it in their possession. Once the items were paid off, the title would belong to the customer. (511.1.4)

(2.) Williams purchased a stereo set and due to this new purchase, she increased her own balance. (511.3.3)

(3.) Williams as a customer is responsible for her payments and she was aware of the circumstances, having knowledge that she had an unpaid balance $164.00.

(4.) Meaningful choice was on behalf of the company and Williams because she still consented to the terms even if she did not understand. If she did not understand, then she should have never consented because she was not being forced at any point in time.

(5.) Therefore, the ruling in Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co should not be in favor of Williams.
Debate Round No. 1
Marksea15

Pro

Yes, plaintiff Williams was responsible for the payments on her purchase, but every individual deserves a second chance, even though they did missed a payment and became defaulted on their prior account doesn"t mean it will happen once again. Walker-Thomas, on the other hand should have been a more responsible business owner, and had better business decision making skills. Knowing that the purchaser Ms. Williams had a prior account in default and still extended her credit to be able to purchase the stereo set she wanted, even though Walker-Thomas knew she wasn"t financial stable. Should the contracts be overturned on grounds of unconscionable acts of poor business practice? The answer should be answer accordingly to the ruling of favor on Williams, yes, she knew she couldn"t afford to make a purchase or to take on "more debt" sort to say, but she did. Just as if you"re approved for a credit card knowing that you already owe the creditor a certain amount of debt or balance, and is struggling to make the minimum payments you"re going to still make purchases and take on additional debt. So who is to blame on that part is the creditor, if you know an individual can"t pay back a loan and missed payments why would you lend out additional money? Just like Walker-Thomas, he knew Williams owed money from a prior account she possessed with his company, but still with poor decision making, and unconscionable business acts, he still went ahead and let Ms. Williams take on an additional loan for a stereo set knowing her financial hard ship she was in currently at the time of the loan was established to her.
Kyatac14

Con

It may be true. However, Williams came to Walker - Thomas on her own free will. So, is the company really the one to blame by providing her customer service? In the contract itself, there is not going to be fine print stating we offer second chances. A deal is a deal at the end of the day and the consequences are going to be stated. It is like making a promise and sticking to it. She made a promise by signing the contract and promising not to default. She ended up defaulting and she did not stick to what she initially signed. Williams knew that she had an overdue balance as well just as Walker- Thomas was aware. But, she really saw the stereo set as a necessity although she is living a struggling life. The contract should not be overturned because because the company is not doing anything wrong. If anything, Williams needs to stop going to the company knowing that she cannot afford these items or if she does, pay her installments on time and not default. Your comparison was great with the approval of a credit card. However, that is the individual's responsibility because they chose to add on additional debt, That is not anyone else problem but theirs. If I was struggling, I am not going to dig myself in a hole knowing that I am not going to be able to get out of it no time soon. This is where meaningful choice comes in because on behalf of the company and customer, both have knowledge of the terms within the contract. Similarly to the creditor example with the individual who cannot pay back a loan, that is meaningful choice because you wanted to take the loan out knowing that you are struggling and not be able to pay it back. The creditor is going to lend out more money because the customer keeps on coming to them and digging themselves in a hole more. With that being said, Ms. Williams is a part of this meaningful choice just as Walker- Thomas is because it is a contract and they obviously agreed.
Debate Round No. 2
Marksea15

Pro

Yes, it"s indeed true of the fact that Ms. Williams did go in to the furniture company to get a stereo set which wasn"t something that was really a household need, but was a necessity. As you stated, "Walker-Thomas isn"t the one to blame for providing customer service," but he is the one to blame for providing poor unconscionable acts towards certain individuals such as Ms. Williams. Yes, signing a contract is a form of a promise from one individual to another, but as they say "promises are made to be broken," such as this promise was broken completely, but the one to really blame is Walker-Thomas, because he has generally been recognized to include an absence of meaningful choice on the part of one of the parties together with contract terms which are unreasonably favorable to the other party. So the question to ask is, did each party to the contract, considering his obvious education or lack of it, have a reasonable opportunity to understand the terms of the contract, or were the important terms hidden in a maze of fine print and minimized by deceptive sales practices? You decide on what"s right.
Kyatac14

Con

What makes Walker - Thomas so unconscionable? If Ms. Williams did not understand something stated in the contract, then she should of questioned or asked for an explanation on what she does not understand. If she did not agree with the terms or did not like the response to her question, she could of took her business else where as well. When you state certain individuals such as Ms. Williams, who else are you referring to and are they in the same predicament as Ms. Williams? If they are, then it is their responsibility as well to follow the terms granted before them. I do understand that promises are not always meet. However, why would you break a promise and risk all of your items? Ms. Williams is not in the best financial stability and it is stated in the text her background information. However, this is where organization comes in because it is important to put your needs before your wants. Did she really need that stereo set? Based on the text, she has seven children and Walker - Thomas was aware of her financial position which is all irrelevant because it is to make her feel like she is the victim when she put herself in this situation. Even if the contract was to be deemed unconscionable, she put herself in this situation and now that her items are at risk of being taken, she tries to take herself out of it. Absolutely not. Ms. Williams like I said had full knowledge of this contract and if she spotted any unfairness, she should of spoke on it from the beginning. Like I said, Ms. Williams needs to be more responsible and more organized. We don't know if she needed the stereo for a specific reason. From reading the text and just knowing her financial stability, it is just like is a stereo really necessary because now she has defaulted and not only can the stereo be taken away, but possibly all the items that she possessed since starting business with Walker - Thomas. Things happen such as her not having the money when it was time to make a payment. However, whenever she did have the money, she could of put that money to the side and saved it for when the payment date was approaching or possibly pay it ahead of time.
Debate Round No. 3
Marksea15

Pro

Unconscionable, is the referring to a contract or bargain which is so unfair to a party that no reasonable or informed person would agree to it, and that right there is the true definition of Walker-Thomas. Ms. Williams didn"t understand the legal terms which was stated in the contract provided by Walker-Thomas Furniture Company. It was true that Ms. Williams didn"t need the stereo set, but wanted to have it, but how many times does that happen to individuals that get what they want instead of need. It"s the reaction of impulse, and Walker-Thomas was reacted as well in the act of impulse because he wanted to make a sale, even with the prior case Ms. Williams contain. Now I know that if you don"t have the money at the moment don"t buy the item, but that"s where credit comes in, no matter what form of credit it is. At times we do buy goods with credit when we don"t have real money at the time to cover the charge of the goods we demand, but we can"t control our financial future, anything can happen, such as not getting paid on time, loss of a job due to a closure or financial crises by unexpected expense. We as humans can control the directions we take, but at times we react through impulse and without unconscionable actions, yes, were humans and it happens to all of us, no one is perfect just like this case.
Kyatac14

Con

Well, I am not going to end the argument by asking you a question. I definitely agree with your definition of unconscionable. However, it was not on behalf of Walker - Thomas Furniture Co. If Ms. Williams did not comprehend the legal terms, she could of simply just not sign the contract or in the previous round, she could of asked questions in regard to the legal terms because she is the customer and as a company, it is there duty to explain whatever the customer does not understand. By asking, it shows that she is concerned about the terms within the contract and so forth. Impulse has absolutely nothing to do with signing a contract because when something unfair takes place, are both going to blame impulse? No. They are going to blame each other and then the court will take it from there. In this case, the court did not even have a ruling on whether this contract established was unconscionable or not. The text just gives examples of other jurisdictions handling these kinds of cases and when these cases occur, this contract cannot be enforced because the inequality of bargaining power. When an agreement is in place, both parties are responsible for meeting their promises and if they are irresponsible, then that is when the consequences come in. If Walker - Thomas was unconscionable in terms of establishing such a harsh contract, then Ms. Williams has every right to take that next step by taking them to court for taking advantage. However, Williams defaulted and that is when it was became an issue. It did not occur to her and there was no problem with the contract. Now that her items were possibly about to be taken, it was a problem. Walker - Thomas did their duty as a company by doing business with a customer and making it clear before hands how their business works. So, Ms. Williams has full knowledge and rule should be in favor of Walker- Thomas Furniture Co.
Debate Round No. 4
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