Maybe love means not ever having to say you’re sorry, but in business sometimes you should.

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sorry-neon-signSaying “I’m sorry” is not the easiest thing to do.

Let’s face it, having to say you are sorry means you’ve screwed something up. By their very nature, human beings don’t like to admit that they have goofed.

Okfine, I get that. Apologizing is tough, no question.

Sometimes though, it is necessary. A good thing even.

And apologizing is always, without fail, better than lying.

You see, I understand that people make mistakes. You have done it. I most certainly have done it. We all have. I would much rather hear an honest and sincere, “I’m sorry, I messed up” than be lied to.

When you email me on Saturday and say:

Check to Thompson’s Realty was dispatched to Vaughn Ave address for Monday delivery

then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect delivery of said check as promised. It is just a wee bit annoying to be accused of not sending in the proper documentation (which incidentally was sent in two weeks prior), and for the escrow officer to have apparently forgotten the request to wire funds, not hand deliver a pain-in-the-ass-to-deal-with paper check, oh and not to mention sending the wrong amount.

More annoying than all that though is this… Fast forward past the day of promised delivery to Tuesday. After inquiring about the missing delivery, thinking maybe the poor courier was lost and wandering the streets of Phoenix in some fugue state, we get this response:

The following wire has been sent:
Escrow No: xxxxxx
Amount: xxxxxx
Date: 06/21/2011 02:15 PM

So the ‘check dispatched to Vaughn Ave address for Monday delivery’ was a line of crap. You don’t wire funds on Tuesday afternoon if you set up a dispatch on Saturday for Monday delivery. Rather you hunt down delivery boy and smack him around. You certainly don’t just blow off a multi-thousand dollar check thinking, “eh, it’ll turn up somewhere”. So said delivery was a ruse, or something equally moronic and damaging to your brand’s goodwill.

All this with no explanation, no apology, no nothing.

This bothers me.

It’s not the six day delay in getting paid. That I can deal with.

It’s not the constant, “I’m so busy” excuses. Those I can live with (though they are really annoying).

It’s not the “we never got this document,” accusation. (Followed by yet another, “Oh yes, you’re right. We’ve just been so busy we misplaced it.”)

It’s not sending the incorrect amount. Things happen.

It’s telling me you set up delivery for Monday when clearly you did not. My guess is you were trying to pacify us on Saturday, with the intention of setting up delivery Monday morning, which you forgot to do (probably because you were… so busy). And then you forgot again until we said something on Tuesday.

It would have been far better to have said on Saturday, “I am so sorry. No excuses, I dropped the ball and will take care of it on Monday.” That I could respect.

Of course actually taking care of it on Monday would be a huge plus. But when presented with your transgressions the following day, and being presented with yet another opportunity to apologize, you punted to an administrative assistant that finally did what you should have done almost a week ago and got the funds wired.

Of course the poor overworked and underpaid assistant had no clue of the ineptitude that had been going along since Day 1, so she didn’t even know there was an opportunity — nay a need — for an apology.

What are the impacts of this? Let’s just say that this particular title company won’t be going on our lengthy list of “companies that do a great job”. Instead, they will be relegated to the (fortunately) shorter, yet far more income-limiting “avoid doing business with at all costs” list.

Which list would you prefer your business to be on?

Is it really that hard to say “I’m sorry”?

 

Photo Credit: Florian on Flickr. CC Licensed.

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About the Author
Jay Thompson

I'm a real estate broker in Phoenix, Arizona and the publisher of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy blog. I tend to drive too fast and scream at the University of Texas and Denver Broncos football teams. My two kids are smarter than most adults I know and my wife is simply amazing.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    yeah, I completely agree with this. I had a lender I referred to one of my clients turn around and refer my clients to ANOTHER AGENT who she said specialized in short sales. I was LIVID when I heard about this from my client (who called me to say, ‘uh… we really would rather use you. why is your lender telling us to go elsewhere?’), but when I called the lender out on it she did the only thing that could possibly hope to pacify me, she said it was completely inexcusable and she was so sorry. She said she got caught up in the complexity of the deal and forgot where she got the client and was just trying to help them with an agent who she knew had an attorney connection. She said it would never happen again and that she really hoped to earn my trust back. She handled it the best possible way: honesty and a sincere apology. Now at least I respect her.

  2. Kris Berg says:

    I just had 100 glossy brochures delivered this morning to a seller with the wrong price (only by $100k). I did the respectable thing… I blamed Steve.

    No. Kidding. I ate crow. Seriously, we are human, and reasonable people will forgive our occasional goofs if we are stand-up about it.

  3. Testing 1 2 3 says:

    Just testing, having some technical difficulties…

  4. There are so many people these days that actually think lying is an acceptable form of communication. Drives me nuts too. You should have named the title company in your blog post. They deserved it.

  5. It’s amazing how much easier life is when you just tell the truth and own up to your mistakes. And it is mind boggling how complicated it gets when you spin & obfuscate. This is all too common, jay, and that’s a shame.

    • Liz Benitez says:

      Wish I could remember the company but as a kids my mom had these cassette tapes that had right and wrong songs. One was how when you tell a lie, you have to tell another to cover it up and then another to cover that one. I can actually her the music in my head just can’t remember the exact words.

  6. I just closed an escrow and the seller was supposed to pay the termite company outside of escrow. A few weeks after closing the termite guy calls me and says he never got payed so I called the other agent who told me “so sorry, I will have the check out today (last Friday). I got another call from the termite guy saying he still hasn’t received that check. COME ON PEOPLE DO YOUR JOB!

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