I make mistakes. Do you?
Silly me, I thought everyone understood that this was just part of being human. Apparently, I am wrong about being wrong.
The new trend, it seems, is that “I’m sorry – I made a mistake” is no longer adequate recompense for anyone inconvenienced by your error. Nowadays, you have to fulfill your original promise – or go beyond.
Example? I saw a woman purchasing some makeup at a large department store. The clerk said that her purchase would entitle the woman to a free makeup bag with samples. The woman dismissed the offer, saying she really didn’t need another bag and would never use the samples. But when the clerk came back and said, “I’m sorry – I misspoke. You don’t get the bag after all,” the woman demanded that she be given the bag and samples. “It doesn’t matter if you were wrong – you said that I would get it,” she told the clerk.
A friend tells the story of seeing a customer in a restaurant complaining about a steak and being offered to have his meal comped. No, that wasn’t enough – he wanted his meal to be comped, plus another steak to take home.
I had an experience at work lately where I made a mistake in an e-mail sent to numerous research companies. Discovering my error, I sent another several days later, explaining and apologizing. Several people kindly responded, “No problem!” But a few others insisted that the original offer be upheld.
Market research has everything to do with people – trying to understand human nature, investigating what people like and don’t like. Maybe if we could start with accepting that part of human nature is making mistakes, correcting them would seem more manageable.
Have you seen any evidence of this trend? Do you think “I’m sorry” is still enough? What do you think has caused expectations of redress to skyrocket?