Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deliberate misinterpretation, ARGH!

Van conversion minibus with full height entran...Image via Wikipedia

Why do some people choose to interpret stuff their way, instead of the normally accepted definitions?

One job recently called for a "15-seater".

A 15-seater van, as most people are aware of, has 15 seats (including the driver's position). Last row has 4, then 3 rows of 3, then two up front, for a total of 15. That's TOTAL capacity of 15, thus, 15-seater.

The person who ordered it actually did ask me, upon seeing the invoice (on which I wrote "15-seater charter") how many people is that, I replied "that's including the driver, so 14 additional people".

On the day of the ship, she argued and basically forced the driver to take one additional people, claiming that 15-seater means 15-passengers. The driver refused, as that would mean a ticket for him if he was ever stopped by police, for "overloading", no seat belt, and other offenses. They had a big argument. You don't need to know the result, suffice to say it got escalated to me, and I was exasperated to hear such lack of reasoning, esp. when I *did* tell her that it means 14-seats for passengers, no more!

When we say "it's a sporty two-seater", it mean two people in the car, including the driver, right? We don't call it a one-seater.

So how can anyone then expect a 15-seater to seat 16? (15 passengers, plus driver)

There *are* exceptions in the charter business. For example, when you go ABOVE van, to minibuses and motorcoaches, then the seating capacity no longer includes the driver, mainly because the driver sits in a DIFFERENT area, nominally SEPARATE from the passenger cabin. For example, in one of my old minibuses, the driver is separated from the cabin by a small partition. Even though it's based on a heavy-duty E450 step/van body, there is no passenger seat next to him, unlike some models. So, seating capacity is 25 (5 rows of 4 seats, plus a final back row of 5). I call that a 25-seater, seats 25-passengers. I don't call it a 26-seater. In a different vehicle of the same class (different maker) there IS a passenger seat (and a passenger door, in fact), but there's still a separate cabin. Those are technically 24-seats (6 rows of 4-seats each) with an extra seat for the tour guide / escort. It is "sold" as a 24-seater, not a 25-seater. In fact, some remove the seat and put in storage bins.

In larger vehicles, such as motorcoaches and buses, driver is NOT counted in the 'seating capacity'. It's just convention. When driver is separated from the cabin, they are NOT counted in the seating capacity. When they are NOT, then they are counted.

But there are no partitions in a van. So a 15-seater van seats 15, including driver. Enough said.

(Later we found that that every person she squeezed onto the van means more money in her pocket, which is why she wants that extra person in there. I don't want to mention any names, but this person works for a non-profit, the charter was for an excursion by a bunch of elders, and she solicited me for kickback on this job. Yes, I said KICKBACKS.)

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