Monday, April 29, 2013

More Tips For You! How to Argue Your Fine.

Who would read a Library Clerk blog for mere entertainment? I don't know. I think people are here to glean valuable insider information. That is why today I have more tips for you! Today's valuable insider tips are all about how to contest your library fine.

1. If your fine is tiny, just let it go and pay for it. Yes, you are right! Yes, it is the principle of the thing! But you can achieve a tiny greatness here for only ten cents.

2. If you're sure you have been fined unjustly (and your fine is not tiny), contest it! I don't want you paying us money that you don't owe us. We're just blowing your money on too many James Patterson books that'll be doorstops in a year anyway.

3. If you decide to refrain from contesting your fines, please also refrain from bitter martyrous muttering as you pay it. If you contest unsuccessfully you can mutter bitterly if you want to.

4. Be specific: "I returned that book the same day I returned 6 others I checked out at the same time." is great! "But I never return books late!" is profoundly unimpressive.

5. Be confident. If the choice is between you're pretty sure you returned those on time and our computer system's specific accounting of the time it came back being 3 days late I will go with our computer system, as it is more dispassionate about and uninvested in the whole thing.

6. If you get caught out as wrong, go like Bugs Meany and concede the fight. "I am positive I returned it in the afternoon on Thursday before Sasha's soccer practice." met with "Yes, but it was due on Tuesday and that's why there's a two dollar fine." should conclude the contestation.

7. Please refrain from irrelevant arguments and faulty reasoning arguments. "I didn't realize the book was under the seat of my car." is a sad anecdote, not a reason for fine removal. "If it was due on the 22nd and I returned it on the 24th I should only have to pay for one late day, the 23rd." is bizarrely compelling, but actually wrong in a way that is very hard to discuss.

8. You don't even have to be right! You are actually allowed to ask for mercy. "Wow, I just totally lost track of time! But $24 is a lot of money for me right now with my impending surgery. Is there anything you can do?" I am waiving half of your fine here for sure, god, maybe even more. But first I'm checking your payment history, so be forewarned this will only work once or twice.

9. Don't let the clerk blow you off. "You don't have to pay it now." should be met with "Yes, but I don't think I should owe this money and would like to resolve it now."

10. Invoke the manager. This can help clear up logjams with people who don't like to get the manager or it can get you to a manager who will usually waive at least some fines because they don't easily have anyone to pass you off to and have to get rid of you somehow eventually. Be forewarned though, more than half the time there will be no manager around and the clerk can happily dispense with you by helpfully presenting you with a business card, or even just a name.

You are now fully equipped to contest your fine. Good luck. Fight the good fight.


  1. Good reason to waive a large fine, like on a dozen recorded books for a couple of weeks: "My sister was shot in that massacre at the Navy Yard; I had to go to Washington to deal with the situation." (paraphrased)
    Good reason to NOT waive any fine: "I didn't realize my kids had taken out DVDs, I thought they only had books." Pay attention to your kids, mom and/or dad!

    1. Right, sorry I did not respond to this for, let's see, seven months, but I'm here now, so if you've been checking every few days for seven months to see what I might say to this, hi. Thank you for your patience. I wish I had more to say, but I'll just start responding and once I'm warmed up there will be a pretty long response that will hopefully make up for its serious delay. Sorry about the delay. Anyway, this is pretty long already, don't you think? And that's really the main thing.

      I agree with your examples. Relatives being shot in national incidents is a great excuse. But, as I said up there somewhere, you've got to check the history so you can say, first "Wow, first you lost your niece at Sandy Hook, and now this with your sister at Navy Yard!" Of course I will waive the fines!" This phrase should be delivered with 90 percent total stunned sympathy and 10 percent contemptuous, unbelieving sarcasm. The, second "Wow, your Niece at Sandy Hook, sister at Navy Yard and now six first cousins in Norway on that island. I am so sorry. I wish I could waive your fines for you. But I can't."

      I also agree wholeheartedly with your second example. But again I am a fan of patron history. I often will waive part of a fine to be nice if someone's past record is clean partly even just to give them a history that bolsters the case for not waiving in the future, especially over more contentious issues.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting and waiting here for seven months to hear this.

  2. Principal vs. Principle: Topic for future blog or annoying speling Nazi: Go

    1. No, no, I am happy to have a spelling mistake corrected. I will go fix it now. Thank you.


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