If you’ve been alive long enough to collect an allowance from your parents, chances are you’ve been burned by a business.
It happens to all of us: We buy something, it isn’t the product we expected, and the company tells us, “Tough luck!”
To be fair, a vast majority of business transactions are perfectly satisfactory. If they weren’t, then civilization as we knew it would probably grind to a halt, and our economy would collapse.
But when do you give a business a second chance?
Change of management.
When a business is under new management (and especially when it advertises that fact), then the odds are good that it’s trying to turn over a new leaf. Many of its policies might have changed and it’s likely that its products have, too.
New name, new look.
Just like the change in management, a company-wide “rebranding” can signal that the company is headed in a new, and maybe better, direction. This can sometimes also happen after it emerges from bankruptcy protection.
Maybe it won’t sell the same shoddy products as before — it wouldn’t hurt to find out.
A public apology.
When a business does something truly awful and is fined by the government or must issue a public mea culpa, it has the potential to change the very DNA of the corporation.
At least in the short term, a public “I’m sorry” may lead to better service or a quality product. (An empty private apology for “the way you feel” is not enough. Those are worthless.)
They discontinue the product that burned you.
If a company turns its back on the product that made you end your relationship — and that’s especially true if it publicly disavows the product — then you should consider returning.
It may mean that the business is dedicated internally to building a better product or offering a better service.
If you believe your expectations might have been too high.
Sometimes you buy something and want it to be more than it is. So when you’re disappointed, the problem isn’t the business — it’s you. If you think that may be the case, you have my blessing to give the company a second chance.
A company can change and improve, but it’s difficult. Businesses rarely do it on their own. Relentless pressure from customers, investors, the market, and government regulators can help, but there’s no way to tell for certain if your experience will be better than the last time.
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.