Business Accountability: Good and In-Between
By David Henderson
I’ve had two experiences in the last few weeks in which one business was incredibly accountable and one business was reasonably accountable although its employee was so-so.
The good story first. I was traveling home from Miami to Monterey on November 4 and the first leg of the trip, on American Airlines, was from Miami to Los Angeles. We were scheduled to leave Miami at 8:25 a.m. When I got to the airport, I found out that my flight was about 40 minutes late. Had I known that, I could have left the hotel later and visited with my friend, Doug Bandow, in the cab on the way. American had my cell number, but it’s possible that the airline didn’t know in time to alert me.
No biggy. The time between my arrival at LAX and my flight to Monterey was 90 minutes.
But then when we got on, we found out that there was a balding tire on one of the landing wheels. They had to change that. Then they had to find a $10 clamp and that took a long time. The pilot was very apologetic and obviously frustrated. I had the sense that he thought we could have easily gone without changing the tire in the first place. Bottom line: we left the airport 2 hours after scheduled departure.
For me, this was still not a big deal. I had trouble working on the plane because the guy in front of me put his seat back. So I used the time at LAX waiting for my next connection to do my grading on my computer that I couldn’t do on the airplane. Yes, it meant that I didn’t have Sunday afternoon with my wife and that was a disappointment. But, hey, these things happen. If you think being late on an airplane is a big deal, then I recommend this routine by LouisCK. Every time I’m about to fume about an airplane being late, I remember it and then just laugh.
That same day, though, American Airlines deposited a 3,000 mile bonus in my American AAdvantage account to atone for their delay. Nice.
Now the in-between story. On Friday I took my cable receiver to Comcast because it had broken down. The friendly guy gave me a brand new one, although it took me reminding him to give me the new one rather than just to retrieve the old one. It also took my reminding him to give me a new remote in return for the old one. He didn’t say a thing about what I had to do to get it working and so I just assumed that I would plug it in and turn it on. Wrong. When I did that, it didn’t work. So I put off until today calling Comcast to see what to do. But this morning, when getting ready for work, I noticed that on the receipt he had given me, it told me how to get on-line to activate the box. Great! I did do and it worked. Then I noticed on the receipt that he had stamped a big red circle with the number “5” in the middle and it said that I would be getting a call from Comcast and that he would like me to rate him a 5. Well, in the old days before students did my evaluations on a computer, I handed them out and left the room while the students filled them out. Then a designated student collected them and took them to the administrative person without my seeing them. It never would have occurred to me to tell or even ask my students to rate me a 5. And clearly, this guy didn’t earn a 5. Yes, I should have known to read the receipt. But if he wants to earn a 5, he needs to give really good service, which includes telling people that the form he hands them is not just a receipt but also a set of directions.
Why do I call this in-between rather than worse? Because I’m judging the company and Comcast had the sense to do a follow-up phone call after the fact.