How to handle mistakes

We've all heard the story far to often, company X makes a major mistake and does something they shouldn't have done, customers get outraged and start making a major hoopla, and only a few weeks later do they receive any admission of the mistake or maybe a weak apology. This type of situation happens way too often to count and really no one wins. Customers are usually left upset and companies are left with a tarnished image.

Last week Amazon made a bit of a slip up when they decided to delete copies of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from all Kindle devices. Apparently the copyright holder claimed that the version of the novel that was being distributed was violating copyright law. Amazon complied with their request by remotely deleting all copies of the novels and then refunding customers they cost they paid for the book. Amazon did notify users that the novels had been deleted and their money refunded, but only after the fact which didn't help things much.

So as the story goes above, customers get up in arms, allusions to Amazon being Big Brother are being typed faster then you can imagine, things are quickly getting ugly, what does Amazon do? Have Bezo's himself posted an apology on the Kindle forums. Short, sweet, he flat out admits that they got it wrong, no ifs-ands-or buts. While I applaud them for addressing the issue in such a straight forward manner, they made quite a daring decision in posting that apology in a public forum while allowing open comments. When I first saw that there were comments I not doubt expected them to be filled with much of the same venomous Orwell references that littered much of the press on the event. Much to my surprise, the vast majority of the comments I read were from from poisonous, in fact most of them were thanking Bezos for apologizing.

Being a skeptic I though that perhaps it was some of Amazons famous "is this post helpful" ranking magic happening to get some of the nastier stuff out of there. After clicking through the first 5 of so pages of comments (include numerous which apparently weren't very helpful) and there was little change. I'll admit that I didn't go through all 27 pages of comments and I'm sure there is quite a few less then helpful posts towards the end of it, but regardless of that fact, I have to admit that posting on forum with open comments is incredibly ballsy move but it seems to have worked out. Bravo.


Unknown said...

Fortunately all those who would have commented negatively on this apology were far too busy entertaining their youtube and digg flame war conversations :)

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