Hard to say I’m sorry

I am not innocent. I get upset, just like you. I do, however, apologise quickly when shown my mistakes. Please indulge a brief rant. There is a point to it.

I am seldom unsettled. But the Saturday manageress at a certain Randburg sports centre, known for its indoor cricket, netball and soccer, managed to raise my internal thermometer. We had finished our allocated soccer game (a birthday treat for our boys) and enjoyed it. With an hour-and-a-half to go, our referee asked if we’d like a second game. ” Sure!” I said,”thanks!” Why not? There was plenty of time -especially once we medium-timers had rested for 20 minutes, and the place was hardly full – one other court occupied.

What a surprise to be charged an extra R100,00 for the brief game (10 minutes – abandoned due to injuries) on our departure!

I do not dispute their right to charge. It was really not in the spirit of the event, however. I did ask -perhaps slightly forcefully? – why we were being charged more than the agreed amount. The manageress was immediately defensive – why? I clarified that I was prepared to pay.

In reality, all I really wanted was an apology: “We could have made the mistake. ” “Maybe we were unclear – so sorry” and that would have been fine. Instead, I got aggression – something like “I train my staff. And I trust their training” – like none of us, once trained, ever mess up.

Geez, Lady! Can you please take over my training portfolio? I could perhaps be the same, but in different situations. Note to self: people just want to know you care, and are able to own up to your mistakes. No-one’s perfect, especially me. I can simply start by asking, “COULD there possibly be another view here? Is there MAYBE another angle on this?” What harm can that do. Maybe we’re not sure about how good we are, so we attack, rather than engage.

I want to be quick to apologise, and move on. that way, no sour taste is left in the mouth. It’s tough being a service provider, but we can always lean towards the customer’s view – even if they are wrong. It may mean they return. As my best friend, Brad Thomson, says of the retaurant industry, “If customers are here today, we pay the rent. If they return tomorrow, we make a profit.” And a friend or two.

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