Archive for the ‘Apology’ Category

Service of Running Late Before and After Mobile Phones

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Photo: cbn.com

It seems increasingly hard to get to places on time.

A friend takes New Jersey Transit to work in Manhattan. Service has been atrocious and promises to get worse. One morning last week it took cars 90 minutes to cross the George Washington Bridge from N.J to Manhattan. Subway service can be iffy–trains zoom past stops unannounced or are delayed.

George Washington Bridge Photo: en.wikipedia.org

I got an email from another friend this week—I’ll call him Phil. He wrote: “We are interviewing computer color tech people to fill the job of someone who just left. So far, all candidates have been late, one by 45 minutes. Not one called to warn about their travel circumstances nor did they apologize.” Phil remembered that he’d previously fired someone when the man arrived late on his first day.

Long before mobile phones I was almost late my first day on a job at a startup because I’d been sent an address that didn’t exist. The street number would have landed a building in the middle of Madison Avenue. I can still feel that twinge of “Uh-Oh–something’s very wrong!” I found the right building by entering each one on either side of Madison. Lucky the employer got the street right. [The business lasted one year.]

Phil recalled the one time he was [very] late for an interview. He’d left earlier than usual for his commute to NYC and “wouldn’t you know Grand Central Terminal was closed because of a smoky fire. No cell phones. Trains backed up. The prospective employer understood of course.”

His story took a curious turn. He said: “I didn’t take the job. Something didn’t seem right. Two weeks later the entire group was fired. I would have been out of a job.” Kismet.

I hate being late and admit that having a phone takes the pressure off when transportation or other glitches happen so I can alert clients, colleagues and friends. Do most people use theirs for this purpose? Do you have memorable experiences of being late to an appointment before or after cell phones? Can you imagine sailing in late to an interview without a word about the time as the candidates for a job in Phil’s office did?

Photo: rebelcircus.com

Service of What Changed? Is This a Breakthrough Against Nasty-Talk?

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Photo: Skysports.com

Until now there have been few [if any] things about which a chunk of lawmakers from across the aisle could agree; the same with Trump supporters and detractors. It took a Trump aide’s nasty comment about Senator John McCain–“he’s dying anyway”–for a significant number of Republicans to speak up. Someone in the administration crossed a line and Democrats and Republicans alike immediately cried “foul!” and didn’t stop for days.

That is, except the president and some others…more about them later.

Kelly Sadler said those mean-spirited words about a hero during a White House communications meeting discussing Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director. McCain didn’t support the president’s pick because, during senate hearings, Haspel refused to say torture is immoral. McCain knows about torture.

Senator Graham. Photo: thehill.com

Thehill.com quoted Lindsey Graham’s reaction to Sadler. His word: “disgusting.” And Graham wasn’t the first or the last to urge the White House to apologize.

Here’s just a fragment of the praise Paul Ryan shared about Senator McCain: “There are so many accolades I could heap on John McCain.” Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas called Sadler’s “denigrating” comments “reprehensible” and tweeted that he “deserves our respect.” Another Republican Senator, Joni Ernst from Iowa, said that “Our nation….should treat this war hero and his family with the civility and respect they deserve.” Democrat Gerry Connolly, R.I., said “Our politics may be different but John McCain is an American hero.”

Joni Ernst. Photo: kcrg.com

According to The Republic/azcentral.com, Senator Jeff Flake posted “There are no words” on Twitter to which John Kerry replied, “Actually, Jeff, you’re too kind. There are words-four letter ones.” Mitt Romney, according to azcentral.com, said that John McCain “makes America great” and “those who mock him only humiliate themselves ‘and their silent accomplices.’”  Ohio governor John Kasich also called for a White House apology.

Joe Biden said: “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday.” Regarding disrespect, he continued: “this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it.”

Len Berman, left, & Michael Riedel

As many as five days after Sadler spoke, New York City radio talk show hosts continued to criticize the spiteful words. This Tuesday morning drive time talk show co-hosts Len Berman and Michael Riedel, WOR 710 AM, mentioned the incident for the second day and urged the White House to make a public apology. Riedel is a Trump supporter.

There’s always an outlier. A retired general on Fox Business network said that “torture had worked on the Arizona senator…. ‘That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’” Does he remember that the Senator stayed with his fellow captives when he had a chance to leave prison first?

In addition to the White House, others have shared inexplicable silence. According to azcentral.com: “Top political figures from Arizona largely remained silent, including: Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey; former Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who remains a political player in Arizona and beyond; Arizona Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines; and Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, Martha McSally and David Schweikert. Likewise, Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva and Kyrsten Sinema have issued no public statements.”

To take away a bit of the credit I gave the Republicans who spoke up, when Republican senators met with the president on Tuesday, not one brought up this subject or asked him to apologize.

What is it about Kelly Sadler’s words that struck a chord when previously so many other abhorrent comments and taunts have gone unnoticed by all except members of the opposing political party? How come the sting of these three words lasted so long? Could this be a turning point where some politicians regain a conscience? Why is it so hard for some to apologize or admit to making a mistake or hurting another person’s feelings?

Photo: beyondphilosophy.com

Service of Apology IV

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Sad Dog

I think that Donald Trump has done a disservice to the business of apologies. He doesn’t offer them, nor does screenwriter/film director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino made headlines because he won’t apologize to the police whom he called murderers.

On a smaller stage, but in the same vein, a friend had a dustup with a major trump yellingdepartment store where clearly, the message about a customer being right or  treated with kid gloves hasn’t reached or been taught to staff.

She wrote:

“I had a horrific customer service experience both online and in the store. What got me was that not a single employee would apologize. Even the in-store person where I eventually picked up my order refused to do so BECAUSE he said the inconvenience and lack of communication wasn’t HIS Fault so he has nothing to apologize for.

“I was on the phone for 25 minutes today to find out if yesterday’s online order, promised for today, had arrived. I never got an email order confirmation, a receipt or a status update.

“The customer service agent kept repeating herself [while providing no information] and finally put me through to the store where I was put on hold at least 3 times. A guy at the store eventually found the order, but wasn’t interested when I said that it took forever for this to happen. He couldn’t explain the delay and wouldn’t attempt to answer why I got no email communication about the order. [The information would certainly have expedited the search and shortened my phone wait–or saved me the call altogether if I’d received an email confirming arrival.]

Not my fault“The same man was there when I picked up the order. I again asked him about the lack of communication and he was very direct in saying he had no idea why there hadn’t been any. He said that the online function has NOTHING to do with the store and that he had no reason to say ‘I am sorry for your inconvenience!’

“I told him it’s a competitive market out there and that the reason there is so much medical malpractice in the country is because it was found that docs won’t say ‘I am sorry.’ (I admit this was a stretch and slightly irrelevant but it happens to be true and I think says a lot!!)”

The recent great experience I had with CVS, that I covered in “Service of Sales Promotions,” is an example of a company that trains its staff to understand that customers don’t want to hear about the differences between online and in store purchases or possible Internet glitches. The store gave me a full return on the online purchase I made in error.

credit card theftI unfortunately had to again deal with my credit card bank–see last week’s post, “Service of Contagious Credit Card Theft,” because when I called to activate my card, it had already been used fraudulently! Seems someone had paid for a $9 massage. No wonder the bank was suspicious: The card wasn’t activated and whoever heard of a massage costing $9?

I hadn’t carried it for one second–it traveled from the company that fulfills credit card orders through the post office to my postbox. When the phone connection was poor, the customer service person–who had nothing to do with the lousy connection–kept apologizing. The one who shared the bad news did so as well.

Do you think that publicity about public figures who never, ever apologize impacts how the public treats one another? Do major department stores have floor walkers anymore who might hear conversations between employees and customers? Why do people find it so hard to say, “I am sorry this has caused you stress?” Do you find that an apology takes the sting out of an otherwise negative situation?

I am never wrong

 

Service of Apology III: Do You Need To Say “I’m Sorry?”

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Love means never having to say you're sorry

In “Love Story,” Eric Segal wrote “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I wonder if the co-CEOs of Whole Foods think that their customers love them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A friend gave us a gift card to Whole Foods and we enjoyed our purchases. They charge more than other supermarkets for some things and so what? There are those who think that if they pay a lot for something it must be good and while the grocer sells a far bigger range than meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, the store is known for its organic fare. Its regulars are not hurting anyone by spending their money there.

NYC dept consumer affairsCharging more is one thing; overpricing another. In “Whole Foods admits overcharging, blames employees and apologizes,” in The Washington Post, according to reporter Will Greenberg: “The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs [DCA] wrote: ‘New York City stores routinely overstated the weights of its pre-packaged products — including meats, dairy and baked goods — resulting in customers being overcharged.’”

Greenberg quoted Walter Robb and John Mackey, Whole Foods co-CEOs’ explanation about “the stores’ fresh products, including sandwiches, squeezed juices and hand-cut fruit, [that] were often weighed or labeled improperly, with store employees labeling their pre-packaged products at prices higher than they should have been. Mackey said there have been a ‘very, very small percentage’ of weighing errors.”

Small percentage? This weighing glitch happened on all 80 pre-packaged items that the inspectors tested in different stores around New York City. Quoting a statement by DCA commissioner Julie Menin, Greenberg wrote: “Our inspectors tell me this is the worst case of mislabeling they have seen in their careers, which DCA and New Yorkers will not tolerate.”

weighing foodI asked a cashier at a different well known grocery operation about this. He said he’d been in retail all his life and had previously worked at Whole Foods. He noted that it’s easy to make a mistake on the tare weight, which measures the container/packaging that is subtracted in the pricing process. He said an employee might forget to change it from one item to another. If it was this simple, and represented such insignificant amounts of money, why didn’t the CEOs say so?

I twice listened to the video of the co-CEOs posted in Greenberg’s article and re-read the article. Three words were missing: I am sorry. Yet the word “apologizes” is in the article’s headline.

In the video, Robb and Mackey spoke to their customers. They said they’d ramp up training; have audits gauging progress made and give free any item that a customer questioned and was improperly priced in the store’s favor. They also thanked their customers for shopping there.

Will you continue to shop at Whole Foods and weigh what you buy? Does admitting improper weighing and labeling amount to an apology? If your customers love you, do you even need to apologize?  What do you think of bosses who take little blame themselves?

Thank you for shopping

Service of Apology II

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Apologies

The topic of Rick Wolff‘s radio program “The Sports Edge,” on WFAN–it focuses on children’s sports–continued to be coaches who bully, in the aftermath of the Rutgers basketball scandal. During yesterday’s show he said he’s heard of countless examples of bullying in other school and college sports programs and asked listeners to share examples.

One of the callers was a wrestling coach who admitted to losing it after he observed one of his best athletes giving up at a major tournament after the first round of three. He said he dressed down the student the next day, screaming, yelling, using the f-bomb, underscoring what a disappointment the kid was to himself and if this wasn’t bad enough, he did it in front of the team.

wrestlingHe said that he immediately met with the student’s parents to apologize to them and the young man and then he met with each of the families of the other team members and did the same thing.

Meanwhile, last week, Rupert Murdoch refused to apologize for the New York Post‘s decision to run images of two men who were not the Boston Marathon bombers. “On Media” Politico.com columnist Dylan Byers reported that the Murdoch-owned paper was the only major print publication to use the photos.

FBIMurdoch said that as soon as the FBI changed course–it was they who had distributed the photos but it wasn’t clear that the bureau meant the media to receive them–the paper removed the photos. As Byers noted, Murdoch obviously couldn’t delete them from the already-distributed printed copies.

In a statement, wrote Byers, the paper’s editor-in-chief, Col Allan, wrote that the two men weren’t identified as suspects. The headline associated with the image: “Bag Men: Feds Seek These Two Pictured at the Boston Marathon.” The bag reference was to the bags they carried.

So what about the reputations of the young men implicated by the headline that flirted with accusation? Are they collateral damage in the quest to be first with the news so it’s OK?

I’m sure that a smart lawyer could figure out a slippery way for Murdoch or Allan to sound as though they were sorry should their coverage have given the “Bag Men” or their families a start. Maybe one of them, like the coach, will meet with the young men.

Are public figures so afraid of being sued that they won’t apologize? Or is it a macho thing? Does this attitude then filter down to the rest of us so that often vendors respond “no problem” instead of “I’m sorry” when you ask them to right a mistake? Or have some successful people forgotten that they can and do make errors and that the thing to do is to apologize?

Sorry

 

Service of Apology

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

apologizeAs we noted in “Service of Excuses,” [which addressed plagiarism] and in so many of the posts on this blog, everybody makes mistakes. It’s how you own up–or not–and how you apologize that then matters.

I thought that Zoe Hayes, editor-in-chief of The Exponent, Purdue University’s student newspaper, apologized without waffling for having run an inappropriate cartoon that she didn’t realize made light of rape. It was so unusual to read copy clearly untouched by lawyers and spin that I include many excerpts of her letter here:

mistake“We made a mistake in printing Friday’s sex position of the week, and I, the editorial board, and The Exponent are extremely sorry.

“Our apologies extend to the entire campus, both men and women; to alumni, parents, and current and former faculty and staff; and to anyone who saw the graphic and was offended or triggered by what was depicted. We’ve heard from many of you and understand your concerns.

“I deeply regret that I didn’t see what was depicted, and I apologize to the campus, to any survivors of sexual assault and, well, to any decent person who saw the graphic Friday and was offended. You’re right. We are absolutely in the wrong on this one and we’re doing our best to correct it.

“We erred and we’re sorry – not because of your response, but because we were wrong and would’ve been wrong even if nobody had said so.”

I first read about this letter in Media Bistro, a great resource.

What do you think of this apology? Was Hays wrong to apologize so often? [I ask this because I have been told I apologize too often.]

Have you seen similar examples either in academia, the media or in business or are most apologies muffled in fuzzy language and smothered by excuses?

 excuses

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