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Not Being Able to Say Sorry Has Far-Reaching Effects
By: Beth McHugh 2008
Most of us find it difficult to say sorry from time to time. But it is really worth the effort to ask ourselves “Why?” Because being unable to say “Sorry, I have made a mistake” can cause problems in all areas of our lives.
A friend recently encountered a person who ran a jewelry mail order company in Ireland. The representative of this business was categorically unable to apologize for mistakes he had made and consequently has not only lost a customer, but this particular customer will tell others about his poor service and his business will suffer as a result.
My friend and her husband had recently celebrated an important milestone in their married life and being of Irish descent, they decided to purchase new matching wedding rings from a certain mail order jewelry shop in the Republic of Ireland.
So far, so good. The rings arrived, they excitedly opened the package. My friend’s ring was not the one she had ordered. So they emailed the company to inform them of the error. And this is where it got really interesting. The jewelry shop wanted the customer to return the ring at their own expense!
Naturally my friend baulked at this suggestion, after all, it was the jeweler’s mistake not theirs. The fact that they live thousands of miles from Ireland also meant that it was not local postage rates they were dealing with. So my friend told them they would not pay the return postage. The company spokesman reluctantly agreed, but not before trying to persuade them to “go halves” in the freight costs. Again, they said a firm “no”.
Weeks later the replacement ring arrived. Like a pair of newlyweds they excitedly opened that package. It was the wrong ring again. This time a different design completely. Again they told the company of the error. They were told to send the ring back. I must add that the response from this company representative was never friendly or overly apologetic. It was cold, mechanical and guaranteed to ensure a lack of warmth on anyone’s part towards this particular business.
The ring was duly returned and yesterday the third package arrived, all the way from Ireland. They got it wrong again! More time off work to take this third mistake back to the post office and checking of bank accounts to see that this company were in fact compensating this couple’s postage costs. And back to the computer to waste time alerting them to their third mistake.
This morning they got their answer. The email solely consisted of the tracking number of their fourth parcel through Fed-Ex. No apology, no trying to make the customer happy. Just a number. Not even a name. And just the automatic signature.
Well, this particular “number” won’t be doing business with that company again. And all because of an inability to apologize and treat a customer as a human being. Not apologizing coupled with the inability to be civil makes for bad interpersonal relationships. Perhaps this person doesn’t care about how he treats the people in his personal life. But most people react when it affects the hip pocket, and with an attitude like this, it would be small wonder if this business didn’t go belly-up.
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