Sometimes All We Want Is An Apology

Elizabeth Nowicki over at the legal blog Concurring Opinions has posted an interesting look at the role of corporate apologies in settling mass lawsuits, specifically in relation to the Vioxx and Bausch & Lomb litigations.

She points out that corporate apologies are actually enough to significantly reduce and offset the cost of class action lawsuits, but it gives corporate executives and their lawyers the heebie-jeebies. Why, a company should never admit it was wrong: all of its resources should be dedicated to outing the damn spot on a company’s lily-white hands.

The entire post really underlines the real disconnect between companies and consumerists: hell, we know to err is human. If we’ve been wrong, we’re usually satisfied with an apology, quickly followed by a reasonable resolution. But when companies fuck up, whether by blinding their customers, giving them heart attacks, or simply fucking us over on a bill or cancellation, they further incense us with denials of guilt… or, even worse, transparent and half-hearted apologies, making our only recourse the law.

Vioxx and Corporate Apologies [Concurring Opinions]

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  1. kerry says:

    It’s also been shown that physicians who apologize after making a mistake are less likely to be sued for malpractice. Unfortunately, most doctors (and lawmakers!) believe that apologizing puts them at a greater risk of being successfully sued, and don’t do it.

  2. ModerateSnark says:

    How’s this for an idea:

    When having trouble deciding between not apologizing (more customer wrath, less admission of guilt) and apologizing (less customer wrath, more admission of guilt) just use, as a tiebreaker, the revolutionary concept of “do the right thing.”

    Apologize!