What to do when you’re wrong.

The other day Seth Godin wrote a great post about what to do when you are wrong:

In the press release, Mark Everson, the Red Cross’ president, is quoted as saying, "For a multibillion-dollar drug company to claim that the Red Cross violated a criminal statute, . . . simply so that J&J can make more money, is obscene."

I think that’s a typo. My guess is that Mr. Everson meant to say, "Oops! J&J is a good corporate citizen, a significant donor to the Red Cross and the original and rightful owner of the trademark. We’ll unwind our deals as soon as we can and go back to focusing on what we do best."

In other words, when you are wrong you should admit your mistake.

In the past couple of weeks I had two separate incidents with two separate newspapers. It was their fault in both cases, but they wouldn’t admit it. In both cases, they blamed the carrier.

These folks don’t seem to understand; whether it is them or the carrier, it is all one company to the customer. If you ask me, the reason that newspapers are in trouble is because they don’t seem to give a damn about the customer at all.

Two days before I left for vacation a couple of weeks ago, The Globe and Mail took it upon themselves to start delivering a free paper to me.I called to tell them that this was a huge security risk as I certainly wouldn’t think to cancel a paper I don’t subscribe to. They agreed and promised to stop delivery.

The next day, on my doorstep, was The Globe and Mail. Another call. Same apology and same promise to stop delivery.It was the carrier’s fault.

The next day, for the third day, on my doorstep, was The Globe and Mail. Another call.Threats of a lawsuit for trespassing and their culpability if my house was robbed. Finally no more paper. Again it was the carrier’s fault.

And they now had a very unhappy person who will NEVER subscribe to The Globe and Mail.

I also cancelled my subscription to my local paper, The Record, for two weeks. The problem was, they never stopped delivering it. It just piled up on my doorstep, an invitation to potential burglars.

When I returned and called to complain I didn’t even receive an apology. Again it was the carrier’s fault. I asked them to have the circulation manager call me. That was Monday. I’m still waiting. If there was another local paper I would have already cancelled my subscription. But I guess you don’t have to care when you are the only game in town.

My $0.02? I would have been much happier with a simple acknowledgement that the problem was their fault and a simple apology. But in both cases they couldn’t even admit their mistake.

The death of newspapers won’t come because of craigslist or citizen journalism. It will come because people just can’t be bothered to put up with this kind of lousy customer service, and realize that news is available elsewhere.

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