Service of Apology IV

November 9th, 2015

Categories: Apology, Communications, Credit Card, Credit Card Fraud, Customer Service, E-tailing, Retail

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


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15 Responses to “Service of Apology IV”

  1. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: ALWAYS apologize–politeness is key to a civil society!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree. The sales and online staff at this retail operation didn’t get that message.

  3. ASK Said:

    Agree with Donna, but so many public figures apologize when they’re caught red-handed, doing something they shouldn’t do, that the apologies often ring hollow, at least to me. Perhaps Trump and Tarantino are displaying a bit of backlash. As a purveyor of violence, Tarantino is peerless…

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You might be right about Trump and a backlash but are these people never wrong? Is anyone always right?

    Life is tough enough without making it harder on one another. I don’t suggest that retail staff or anyone should roll over and be unctuously polite when treated rudely by customers although that often will stop an aggressive, angry person in his/her tracks. In the day-to-day, and in commerce, you can never go wrong with an apology. And you don’t have to admit that you are right or wrong with a carefully worded one. The person responsible for the malfunction in the email system was at fault here, not the customer service person on the phone or the sales person in the store, but that person probably will never know about the glitch.

  5. hb Said:

    This stuff about slack internet security, abusive and arrogant mistreatment of consumers and the like is rapidly becoming “old hat.” And it will only become worse.

    I think this is the consequence of the profound cultural and demographic changes sweeping the country and much in the news because of the tedious, interminable inane circuses–the primaries — particularly the Republican one. (I’m a disgusted Republican.)

    I remember when President George H. W. Bush appealed to the nation seeking to change us into a “kinder, gentler” people. They laughed at him then; they’d laugh even harder now. (I look forward to reading Jon Meacham’s new biography of him which could do for that greatly underrated President what David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography “Truman” did for him.)

    Mix the popular viciousness we are now expected to show each other in our daily dealings, with the accelerating concentration of wealth into ever fewer hands, and you have a grim picture of what is in store for all of us.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I would welcome a kinder, gentler world. There are glimmers of this approach in the form of organizations like The Christophers. The ancient Chinese proverb —“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, online and awards programs. I haven’t read Meacham’s books, but used to see him on political talk shows and liked what I heard.

  7. ASK Said:

    You both should find a review of Meacham’s book in the Times of interest…

  8. JM Said:

    Yes. The current political debates are my big issue. When some from either party are questioned, the person skirts the honest answer and I feel for public TV that’s equivalent to flipping the finger at the public who seek the facts in order to vote intelligently. If the adults don’t model a well-deserved apology, so many youngsters will never learn the practice.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    So true, JM,

    If public figures aren’t civil to one another and if they are experts at skirting issues…what kind of models are they?

    As a PR person I am amazed at how well the candidates take control of almost each and every interview. A reporter asks a question and they respond with a topic they want to cover. The better on-air news personalities don’t let them get away with it…but many do. This is a technique that you try to teach a client who may be promoting a new product, book, film, organization or initiative and a reporter goes off on an irrelevant tangent, time is almost up and there hasn’t been a word said about the topic the client wants to address. But the technique must be used judiciously and not off the bat.

  10. Edward B Said:

    Edward wrote on Facebook: The “Donald” does not have to apologize, he has a helicopter and a jet plane.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are correct, though there was a time in wihch many [not all] who, like Mr. T, who inherited their $ and were fortunate and/or successful, had manners. The department store people my friend confronted are the exception as I find today, often, the less fortunate sport the best manners.

  12. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s PC these days to make a controversial remark, draw “outrage” and then take it back. It’s illogical and not too bright. The Donald is dead right on this one. Why say something only to recant? So he doesn’t like Mexicans. So he makes a point of insulting Pooh-Bahs. So what? If one makes unpopular utterances, is one now denied the right of free speech?

    Apologies are basically illusions. If someone were to steal my credit card, I want the thief caught and money back. As the apology will not come from the thief, it’s worthless. This is not to say there should be no apologies, just let them be sincere.

    While I am not politically in tune with the Trumpster on most issues, I’m in his corner on this one. No apologies.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Objectionable, angry, nasty generalizations about groups of people tell a lot about a person, often that they lack education or information. Instead of foisting his anger and hatred on others, he should meet those he hates as he may surprise himself. We’ll never agree in this regard. Whatever happened to “If you don’t have something nice to say….don’t say anything?” Frankly, being around such anger and hatred is stressful.

    When Mr. Trump utters factual error upon factual error, as he did in the Sept. 16 debate, doesn’t it matter if someone is hurt as a result of the misinformation?

    His bombastic inaccuracies that day alone were that vaccinations link to autism; that he never wanted to bring casino gambling to Florida; that illegal immigration costs the country $200 million/year and that Mexico doesn’t have a birthright citizenship policy. I think that someone should be held accountable for what they say and when they say something wrong or inaccurate, they should apologize.

  14. Edward B Said:

    Edward wrote on Facebook: Most regular customers ask us if we can repair their car and in general lots of thanks from both sides. Affluent ones from big dollar zip codes ask if we would like the opportunity to possibly work on their mega dollar vehicle and almost never have the funds for the deductible and usually after the big butt kiss run around scenario, a “thank you” is rare..

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wish I could disagree or say “I’m SHOCKED!” I am not. A feeling of entitlement is an ugly thing to witness or experience from either side of the counter. In some retail establishments haughty sales clerks treat poorly people they don’t think measure up. Since high school, I’ve been fascinated by this interaction, hence the topic of my blog!

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