re:The Free Market Response to Screw Ups

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Roland W writes:

“In the days after my Dad died about four years ago, I of course had a lot of phone calls to make. Two stand out. It was late in the year, and I had received Dad’s real estate and personal property tax bills from the county. I had a question about how to pay them (I don’t recall exactly what it was), so I called the county collector’s office. After explaining that Dad had died the week before, I started to ask my question: “I have his county tax bills here and…” Before I could finish the sentence the gruff tax-feeder cut me off: “That will have to be paid, sir!” Of course I knew that; my question had to do with the procedure for paying it. Another call was to Dish Network to cancel Dad’s satellite TV. The greedy capitalist’s first words? “I’m so sorry for your loss.” The rep then patiently laid out the procedure for cancelling. Then he asked whether I had considered leaving the service on for another month or two, since my sisters and I might enjoy watching Dish programming while sorting out the things at Dad’s house. My conversation with the Dish rep was not an anomaly. In every single call I made to a private company, the first words spoken on the other end were, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” In contrast, even though our county is rural, and one would expect some inkling of neighborliness even at the courthouse, the Wicked Witch of Revenue couldn’t muster so much as a pleasant tone of voice. I will never forget this lesson.

3:28 pm on March 5, 2013