An actual mea culpa from a tech company

Something that seems all too common with tech companies is the “not our fault syndrome.”  If a problem develops, hardware support says blames it on your software.  Software support blames it on your hardware.  A service provider says lays blame with another service provider, your hardware and/or your software.

I encountered this situation this month in trying to resolve problems with the news server provider I’ve subscribed to for almost six years for Usenet newsgroups. This one, though, may have a happy ending.

Long story short, after a variety of e-mails with support detailing and documenting the problem and the fact it appeared to be at their end, I ended up with nine days of silence. I took the only action I could. I canceled my subscription online and told them why. I got an e-mail a few days later telling me they had made “improvements” that may have solved my problem and to use my cancellation grace period to see if it had been resolved. Although I was a bit irritated it took a cancellation to get action, it appears the problem may be fixed.

What’s surprising is the e-mail I got Thursday from the company’s manager of systems administration. Among other things, it said:

I have read the history of the trouble ticket that you submitted, and I am truly sorry for the way we mishandled your complaint in early January. Our failing caused you to suffer poor speeds for weeks longer than should have been necessary to solve the issue. It was completely our fault, and we absolutely failed to give you the service you deserve.

…. it saddens me to see how badly we mishandled your complaint and caused you sufficient frustration to cancel. Please be assured that we will be reviewing the mistakes that were made, and your experience will be made into a learning experience for our entire support staff.

I don’t remember the last time, if ever, a business told me it was responsible for a problem and “absolutely failed” to provide proper service.

The e-mail also offered me a month’s free service at a higher level if I voided my cancellation during the grace period. While I’ve done so, I’m also taking the individual at his word when he says what happened to me will be used as a learning experience for the company’s staff. My responsive e-mail told him it is was more the way things were handled than the underlying problem that irritated me and detailed exactly what I thought could/should have been handled differently. I also told him that while I was thankful for the month’s free service, it would actually be the company’s grace period regarding the problem that currently appears resolved.

It’s refreshing, almost shocking, to see a company own up to mistakes. What’s sad is that it is so surprising.

If the world would apologize, I might consider a reconciliation.

Mason Cooley, City Aphorisms, Tenth Selection

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