Written Apologies Are Worthless

A reader showed us a letter he was going to send to AT&T. At the end, among his demands, he listed, “a written apology.” We told him to get rid of it. He asked why. He said the apology would actually be worth more to him than the refunds for which he was asking.

We said, for one thing, you’re not going to get an apology. That’s an admission of wrongdoing and legally that’s a bad place to be for a company. Secondly, it has no place. You’re having a dispute with a business about a business transaction. Inserting a request for a written apology just elevates your letter to “probably crazy” status, encouraging them to ignore it.

Let’s say you did get a written apology. There’s no guarantee the company meant it. There’s a story about a business exec who sent a complaint letter after bedbugs ate him up all night on a train trip. He received a moving letter from the rail company, saying how sorry they were, and the steps they were taking to ensure it never happened again. His original letter was included in the envelope. Across the top was written, “Send this jerk the bedbug letter.”

All you should be concerned about is that you’re getting the goods and services for the price you paid. If you want someone to care about your feelings, get a dog.