of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Don’t Lie to Me

I do not like it when people lie to me.

Today, while talking to a Bright House customer service representative, I learned that

  • someone had called me to let me know that the service person was on his way to my home. (The call that does not appear on my phone log.)
  • there was no one at my home when the repair person arrived. (My partner was home.)
  • the service person waited 20 minutes for someone to show up. (My roofing crew said he waited five minutes in his truck before leaving.)
  • that because it was so late in the day that there were no supervisions to whom I could speak.
  • that no supervisors would be available on Friday.
  • that the person to whom I was speaking was the only person currently working in customer service at Bright House and that there was no one else to whom I could speak. (When I called back someone else was there.)

A supervisor did call me back later in the evening and was not impressed by the lies and some other problematic issues I addressed with her.  She assured me that she would be addressing the issue with the people involved.

Unfortunately, it seems to be a dying art to say “I goofed.”  Had the customer service person said “We goofed” and tried to make things right, it would have been so much easier on everyone concerned.  Mistakes happen.  I can live with that.

Instead of talking to me directly, sometimes a student who is not doing well will go to the Dean to lodge a complaint.  Too often, the student lies in the complaint and the lies undermine their credibility and make the situation more difficult for themselves.  Several semesters ago, a student complained to the Dean that I was not answering her e-mail.  Because it was an on-line course, she needed the e-mails answered so that she could be successful.  I forwarded the 19 e-mails I had sent to the student during the past three weeks–some of which she had answered–as well as eight relevant e-mails I had sent to the class.

While I might hold a grudge against a company and stop shopping there, I do not treat students the same way.  It would be inappropriate for me to cite some more recent instances where I have helped students who lied to the Dean about me. But I do work with students and try to help them learn better communication skills as well as the course subject.

One of my students has been dissatisfied with a colleague this semester.  Today, the student reported to me that my colleague told the class that he has not been at his best this semester.  Because he was able to say “I goofed,” my student has a whole new attitude toward my colleague.

During the past couple of weeks, I have been discussing with my ENG 102 students how I goofed with the course design.  As part of our discussions, I have told them that I think that if I had reversed two assignments, the course would have been improved.  They agree.  And because I could say “I goofed” and could explain how I plan to fix the problem the next time I teach the class, they are very charitable toward me even though I caused them unnecessary anxiety.

It is too bad that customer service representatives are not better trained in the art of saying “I goofed.”  For Bright House’s sake and the sake of their customers, I hope that the supervisor to whom I spoke will be able to impress on the people involved in today’s incident that to lie to a customer does not build strong bonds of loyalty.


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