Wednesday, August 11, 2021

It’s Your Fault!

There’s a trend these days for companies to blame their customers for the businesses’ errors. Perhaps it began in the computer industry, where tech support workers would ask users calling in with a problem “What did YOU do to cause the error?” My standard response to this question is “I purchased your product.”


Last month, I ordered a pizza from Papa John’s website. I chose “The Works,” which is their version of all the toppings. I tipped the deliveryman, who promptly drove off, and when I opened the box I found a plain cheese pizza with no toppings. I called Papa John’s and spoke to the manager who, besides being incredibly rude to a customer who had just purchased their product, told me they were “not responsible for errors” if the item was ordered from their website, even though they made it at their store. She then went on to place the blame on me saying I must have clicked on the wrong button online. Needless to say, I will never again do business with Papa John’s.


It happened again today. Every two years I receive correspondence course books in the mail from real estate schools seeking my business. I usually choose the first one arrives, fill out the paper test in the back of the book, and mail the answer sheet back to them. For the past several years, that’s been the Bob Hogue School of Real Estate. They emailed me my score (100%, no sour grapes here); however, my credit card issuer emailed me too: it turns out Bob Hogue had billed me twice, each charge a minute apart. I presumed someone at the correspondence school must have run the credit card number through, thought for some reason it didn’t go through the first time, and submitted it a second time. That happens sometimes with businesses, so I called to tell them what had happened and receive a refund for the erroneous charge. I wasn’t angry; I was very calm; I simply wanted my money which should never have been withdrawn returned. I assumed it was a mistake on their part and that they weren’t even aware of it. But then, the young lady on the phone proceeded to tell me how this was all my fault.


“You must have clicked twice on the form online,” she insisted, placing the blame for their error on the customer. Before she could continue, I interrupted: “I’m going to stop you in your tracks. I was never online. I’ve never been to your website and I didn’t click anything. Your company sent me an unsolicited course book. I placed the answer sheet in an envelope, stuck a stamp on it, and returned it in the U.S. mail.” You would think that would cure them of the need to shift blame for their own failures. Nope. She moved on to blame the credit card issuer for double billing me.


It’s bad enough we live in a society where there is no longer any accountability for one’s actions from the president down to the lowliest peon; and that individuals no longer assume responsibility for their own mistakes. But there is something seriously wrong with a business culture that fosters a “blame our customers for our mistakes” mindset. In these situations, the customer’s only mistake is having done business with the company in the first place; a wise customer will not compound the mistake by continuing to patronize such a business.

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