Archive for the ‘It’s Not My Fault and I’m In The Right’ Category

“It’s Not My Fault and Here’s Why I’m Right!”–Episode 6: “It Is What It Is”

Friday, February 7th, 2014

If you look around, you can find stories like this one almost every day. While not helping matters, they do offer some comic relief.

Episode 6 – A Dealer in Measuring Devices: “It Is What It Is”

We installed an after-market tire-pressure monitoring system on our RV. Two of the six pressure sensors in the wheels showed a considerable difference in pressure (3 psi when cold, significantly more when warm) compared to the other four sensors – even though it was determined that all the tires were inflated identically. I complained to the dealer. There ensued a long exchange of emails, which I abridge here:

Dealer (proprietor): “. . . the accuracy of the sensors is +/- 2 psi. That is, in an extreme case, there can be a difference of as much as 4 psi between sensors. Anything less than that is within spec.” (In plain language: “That’s the way they come from the manufacturer, and in an emergency, we’re on solid ground.”)

The dealer offered to look the system over. But for that to happen, I would have to return not only all of the sensors, but the display unit, as well. Great! Make the customer do all the work. After a few weeks (!), I had the device back in hand. The result: One of the faulty sensors was replaced. But not the other. There ensued the following email dialog:

Me: ” . . . you replaced one of the two sensors (sensor 2) that I complained about. What happened with the other one (sensor 6), which had a comparable deviation?”

Employee: ” . . . Sensor 6 showed a slight deviation that fluctuated within the specifications. That . . . has a precision of +/- 2 psi, meaning that in an extreme case, the indicated values for the same pressure can differ by as much as 4 psi” Like I said: We are in the right!)

Me: ” . . . Please forgive me, but I find it annoying that almost all of the sensors read the same for the same pressure. Only one of them doesn’t. That doesn’t comport with my idea of quality, regardless of whether it’s “within spec.” I’m disappointed.”

Dealer (once again the proprietor): ” . . . You’ve no doubt heard the expression: ‘It is what it is.’ And that’s the case with [the product]; there has to be some kind of trade-off between precision and price. Measuring devices with a precision of 1/10 psi would cost about ten times as much as [the product].” (It’s not my fault, I’m right, and you haven’t a clue.)

Apart from the impertinence of this answer, I pointed out to the dealer that I had no expectation that the device would be accurate to 1/10 psi, and that 3 psi is more than a few tenths, and . . . I ordered a new sensor – regrettably at the same time from the same dealer, because there was no other convenient supplier. That’s no longer the case, and I will recommend to one and all that they avoid by all means the dealer with whom I had this altercation.

Life could be so simple. The exchange of one more sensor, and Mr. Quelle would have become a goodwill ambassador for the company. An opportunity missed. Too bad.
How could you make it easier for your customers?

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

“It’s Not My Fault and Here’s Why I’m Right!”–Episode 5: “My Colleague Misunderstood”

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Many readers have delighted in this column since I began publishing it. Why not learn from something humorous?

And so, today.

Episode 5 – An Airline: “My Colleague Misunderstood.”

On a flight from Düsseldorf to Nice, my wife and I ordered something to eat from an amiable steward. My food came, but hers did not, probably because mine (curried sausage) was simpler than hers (something Thai). Upon further investigation, everyone got the meal that they had ordered – except for my wife. Nor did this escape the flight attendant who was serving us. Furthermore, we determined that a woman in the next row was surprised at receiving a meal. Apparently, she hadn’t ordered anything, but she proceeded to eat the food anyway.

  • Flight attendant ( questioning look): “Did you order something?” (She ought to have known that, since the order was written on a slip of paper that her colleague had filled out earlier.)
  • My wife ( amiably): “Yes. I ordered what the woman in the next row mistakenly received and began to eat.”
  • Woman in the next row ( busted!): “Here. Would you like it?” (Oh, a partially-eaten meal. Nice of you, but no thank you verrrry much.)
  • Flight attendant ( quickly distancing herself): “Oh, my colleague misunderstood. We can’t serve you any food now. We’re going to land soon.”  – and disappeared with a speed that would do an airplane proud.

Her colleague had written down the order correctly. She had botched it, knew she had, and blamed her colleague for the mistake. All said and done, it wasn’t that serious. We did soon land (about an hour later). Fine, then, everything was back in order.

A shared curried sausage later, and this tale was a natural for my blog. The lesson: Never, ever put anything off on a colleague! That never goes down well.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

“It’s Not My Fault and Here’s Why I’m Right!” – Episode 4: “Amex is the problem.”

Friday, January 10th, 2014

This column is becoming a favorite of mine – and according to reliable sources, not only mine.

Episode 4: A maker of writing implements: “Amex is the problem.”

Recently, I attempted to order a pen case from the online store of an upscale, very well known-maker of writing instruments. After I established that I could pay with American Express, I went to the trouble of registering and ordered the pen case. After I had entered all the information and the order was ready to submit, I was quite astonished that only Mastercard or Visa was accepted for payment. I didn’t want to use either. I canceled the order. I needed the pen case, and I hate wasting time.

  • My email to the producer: “Paragraph 9 in your terms of sale states that you take Amex. But when I tried to order something from your store, only Visa / MC were offered. So, I won’t order from you. Too bad. Sincerely yours . . .”
  • From a customer-service lady, barely 24 hours later: An email expressing regret, together with the announcement that the matter would be forwarded to the appropriate department and the wish that I would soon purchase something from their site again. Again??
  • Me: “I’m not at all clear on this. Amex is accepted in every . . . store and most . . . retailers. Surely there must be some mistake.
  • The same customer-service lady, 12 hours later: “You are absolutely right, and in recent weeks we have been working to integrate the necessary technical solution into our system. Meanwhile, if you order by telephone, you can pay with Amex. As of yesterday, we still had no information concerning this matter, but after consulting with our security team, the system is indeed available as of today.”
  • I took the woman up on the offer, telephoned her, and read her my payment information. Error message. Tried again. Error message. The customer-service lady: “You’re sure you have the number right?” (I had the card in my hand: “Yes!”) “Has the card expired?”
  • The customer-service lady couldn’t figure it out. Amex is the problem There seem to be difficulties with the system on the Amex side. That couldn’t be. I’d used the same card for purchases before now. Limit? Nowhere near it. We adjourned until the next day.
  • Next day? Same thing again. The customer-service lady was now certain: “Amex is definitely the problem.”
  • I gave up, bought a few books at Amazon using the same Amex card, and a few days later purchased the pen case from an outlet I trust.

© 2014, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.

“It’s Not My Fault, And Here’s Why I’m Right!” – Episode 3

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

This topic is growing in popularity on my German blog, so I’ll continue with it and present it here as well. After Episode 1 (telephone producers) and Episode 2 (television manufacturers), now this . . .

Episode 3: Teleconference service-providers

Warning: long post, yet insightful nonetheless.

My monthly German teleconferences this year have meanwhile have acquired some 250 registered subscribers who can tune into my teleconferences live. So, we need a reliable teleconferencing provider.

Our provider, whom we’ve used for many years, has shone recently only in its underperformance. The zenith: “No connection for this number.” Our virtual conference-room number was not available. I figured out for myself how to get in only by a circuitous route, and there were only two participants in the teleconference, including myself. An absurdity, and not the first time it’s happened.

That evening, I pointed out the poor performance directly to the provider. The company made no apology, but let me know that we could either be credited with the monthly fee (useless, since we can cancel at the end of any month), or we can terminate the service (equally useless for the same reason) and be reimbursed the monthly fee. Not a word of apology. Too bad.

Actually, the incident was settled, as fas as I was concerned; I didn’t want to switch providers because of the complexity involved. But then the calamity played out yesterday in dialog with the company’s CEO, who affirmed and added to what I’ve just related:

  • Provider: “As it happened, we had some weird issues Monday . . . Somehow our telephone numbers . . . couldn’t be connected, we don’t know . . . we’re looking into it. . . . [We’re] trying . . . in every way possible. Unfortunately, we need . . . more-detailed error reports from our customers.” (What he’s really saying: We’re doing everything we can, but our product isn’t quite ready yet, and we need your help testing it.”)
  • Me: “. . . is it too much for your customers to expect and receive products that are ready for prime time, that don’t turn the customer into a guinea pig?”
  • Provider: “. . . many thanks for the guinea-pig observation. Unfortunately, it’s a complete misrepresentation, and I take it personally, . . .further clarification makes no sense and only upsets me.” (What he’s really saying: “In reality, this is not at all about you, Mr. Customer, but about me and my ego.”)

All of that transpired through exchange of emails.

  • I tried to reach the service provider by telephone, because you really shouldn’t conduct such a dialog by email.
  • “You have called outside business hours.” (An 0900(!) number. It was shortly after 5:00 p.m.)
  • I informed the CEO by email that I would really like to speak with him, and gave him my phone number.
  • To no avail. An hour later and in writing, I canceled the contract as of March 31 and waived the refund that had been offered.

By rights, the story could have ended here, but far from it.

I received prompt confirmation of the cancellation, not as of the end of the month, but as of the end of that very day. By then, it was almost 7:30. The good news is that I had another provider in my hip pocket and informed all the teleconference participants of the new dial-up procedure. I wrote to the CEO that Mandat would have preferred to have canceled as of March 31, and not March 20, but that this would work for us.

I was done with the matter.

  • But not the CEO. This morning shortly after 7:30, by email: “. . . .our subscriptions are always for 30 days, and not from the first day of the month to the last. So, it’s not a matter or whether it works for you, but whether it’s in our system.” (Translation: It’s not my fault; I’m even in the right. And you, Mr. Customer, don’t count; that’s how our system works.”
  • For me, the case was closed, and I didn’t respond.
  • For the CEO, not so much. By email a few minutes later: “. . . in any case, you can see from your statement of February 22, 2013 that the room agreement ends on  March 3, 2012(sic). You canceled yesterday, so the contract was closed in our system. All very customer-friendly!” (Translation: “It’s not my fault; I’m even in the right. And you, Mr. Customer, not only do you not count; you are stupid besides.”

I forbade the CEO to contact me further by email. Anyway, I had enough for a new blog entry.

What would have helped?

  1. A word of regret, of sympathy.
  2. Accessibility.
  3. Use of the telephone instead of email.
  4. Make an effort to understand the customer.

Right from the start yesterday, the company lost us a customer, despite the pain of switching providers. Will they get over it? Yes, but only as long as such conduct remains an isolated instance – which I doubt.

© 2013, Prof. Dr. Guido Quelle, Mandat Consulting Group, Dortmund, London, New York. All rights reserved.