The Power Of An Apology

Many years ago a Political Science Professor taught his students to use the words “I’m sorry” to their advantage in arriving at settlements. Today many big businesses are using the same strategy. How can an apology be used to an advantage?

Consider the following: A bank “loses” a couple of thousand dollars from your account. You point this out to the bank and they start an investigation. After about 60 to 90 days the bank issues you an apology and restores your money to your account.

You have your money back and even an apology from the president of the bank. You could not ask for a happier ending. Right?

Now consider the following: The bank needs several millions in short term loans. In order to get the loans the bank needs to fill out hundreds of pages of financial statements, maybe an audit, and find maybe a co-signer or two. So the bank president authorizes the “use” of funds from the demand deposits account. No more papers to fill out, no financial statements, no audits, no co-signers. The bank now has the short term use of millions of dollars. After the bank completes its business with the millions shorted from demand accounts it issues an apology and replaces the money.

No harm to any one, the bank concluded its business with the use of interest free money and you get an apology so everyone is happy.

CREDIT CARDS: The credit card company wants to increase its bottom line by several million. Without notifying its customers it increases its fees, creates several new fees and increases interest rates. During the course of events several customers complain and file a class action suit.

The class action suit takes years to settle and in the mean time the credit card company continues to charge customers the illegal fees. After several years the company settles the suit by paying a one million dollar fine and issuing an apology.

Everyone wins. The credit card company has made millions every year the fees were in place and the one million dollar fine does not even amount to a minimum interest charge on the illegal profits. The credit card holders feel they won because of the one million dollar fine (which they don’t get) and the apology.

As we all know words are cheap. It’s a lot less costly to apologize than to do the right thing in the first place. Companies everywhere have adopted the policy of “full speed ahead and apologize later”.

What we really need is a law that will place a fine on companies of the estimated profits plus twenty per cent. To do otherwise is to allow the companies to practice unjust enrichment.


Pancho Villa - a bleeding heart liberal Revolutionary.

Work with nature - plant a tree for more oxygen and less pollution.


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