The business of Pardons and Waivers

Running the National Pardon Centre can be tricky business. On the one hand you have people who love the service, understand the service and are grateful for the service the business offers. On the other hand you have people who don’t really understand the service, understand less about pardons and fail to understand that it is a service being offered by a private company, just like hiring someone to do your tax return.

The latter are the ones that will often come back to haunt you. Sometimes they say you ripped them off. Sometimes they thought it was a government service. Sometimes they are arrested again and upset about that. But more often than not, they are just fed up with how long the application can take and they have to release that frustration somewhere. 

When I first opened my office in 2002 we actually had an official from the Quebec prison system circulate a memo calling the National Pardon Centre a National Problem, which was almost flattering for a tiny office of three people at the time.

Not only is this inappropriate of a government official but it is obviously illegal. The National Pardon Centre is a federally registered corporation and we would like to think we’re somehow protected from slander. 

But why did that happen and why is there such a misperception out there about pardons and pardon services?

First of all I believe it is due to a lack of information. The whole pardon “thing” is pretty new. Not all people understand how it works and many don’t even know that it is possible to get a pardon. Whenever a situation arises that isn’t well understood it is bound to create some friction between interested parties.

Second, is due to the fact that there are some companies out there that actually are worthy of being labeled a national problem. Many claim to be something they are not. When I asked one of my competitors (a little corporate espionage never hurt) if the company in question was a government service the reply was “no, but we are audited by the government”.

Audited by the government I puzzled? Yes, I imagine you would be.

It was a nonsense answer; smoke and mirrors. It is a response designed to confuse those not paying close attention or those with an intermediate understanding of the English language (in a multi-cultural society those speaking English as a second language are not hard to find). If you know what audit means, if you know what an audit is and how it works and when and why it is performed you know that the answer is nonsense. But if you don’t know all those things, or even if you just aren’t sure, it might suggest an affiliation with the government. Nonsense!

At the National Pardon Centre we try to be upfront. We try to be honest with people. We tell people what they need and how much it will cost, upfront.  We do not cold call. We do not hard sell and we do not ask you to pay for something you don’t need. And I even tell people who call that they all this can be done on their own if they wish. I still get people misunderstanding and I still get people angry at me from time to time, but as the business has grown unhappy clients have become the exception, not the norm. And that means a lot.

The problem is that not everyone does business this way. Like the company that’s always being audited there is a lot of misleading and a lot of misunderstanding with a lot of half truths thrown in for good measure. And the most common problem of all is that there a lot of companies with a lot of hidden costs. And when it comes to hidden costs let’s be frank. Hidden costs piss people off!

Of course none of this is unique to my industry. Everywhere you look there is someone willing to do whatever it takes to make an extra buck. So I am afraid the responsibility is ultimately, on you the consumer. Inform yourself and be aware of what you are buying, whether it is a pardon service or anything else.

As my father, a somewhat traditional capitalist would say to me, Buyer Beware!


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