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PostHeaderIcon My Dirty Little Secret….

My dirty little secret is that I am not actually perfect. I make mistakes, I screw up. More than once in the past six years, I have had to email or call a client and tell them the problem and present them with a solution (and that last part is important, if I have a solution or two at the ready, it shows I actually care). There have been a time or two that it really wasn’t fixable, but I apologized and explained how the error occurred.

I am constantly amazed at how few businesses know the art of the apology. The thing is that businesses are run by humans and humans make mistakes. We all know this and we all accept it. My clients are always understanding when I own up to a mistake (and I am understand when they make a mistake as well). Stuff happens and life is just too short, ya know?

Many of you may know that Tom just got his degree from the University of Phoenix. He went there for 3 years and finished his last class in late April. He ended up with 3.67 GPA in Business Marketing. Not too shabby. We are very proud of him and have been eagerly awaiting actually receiving his degree….

Apparently, there’s a problem. From what we can piece together, Wells Fargo – as part of the bail out – sold his student loan to the Department of Education. This means they basically stopped his loan, but didn’t tell him or anyone else. This means that the school is looking at Tom wanting him to pay them, they are basically holding his degree for ransom.

The big problem, for me, is that his financial adviser missed it – and worse, has known for a month and not told us. It is her job, her responsibility. Instead, she avoided his calls, ignored his emails. I realize they are busy (she made that very clear on more than one occasion), but it’s her job. They claim they called and spoke to him about it, but someone is playing the system and the school is too stupid to realize it. You don’t go into that much explanation with someone for 21 seconds or a minute and 31 seconds. That’s long enough to listen to a voice mail message, maybe leave a message (which we never got any of).

The money isn’t all that much and we’ll pay it next week now that we know there’s basically nothing they can do, but ya know… no one ever apologize for their error. The financial adviser hasn’t (we can’t even get her on the phone) and her boss hasn’t (she basically told Tom it wasn’t her problem).

A simple, “I’m so sorry, this is our fault, but by law we really can’t do anything for you, you will have to pay the difference, I wish there was more I could do.” would have gone a very long way.

How hard would that be? It amazes me that companies are unwilling to just admit their fault. A simple apology would have gone very far. And it would have really saved this customer relationship.

You see, I want to go back to college and I was thinking of UoP, but not anymore. I also won’t be recommending them to anyone else I know. Quite the opposite. And why? Because one financial adviser messed up and no one is willing to say “I’m sorry“. Petty on my part? Maybe, but I give excellent service to my clients. I believe a little bit of customer service goes a long way. Whether it’s writing off a few hours of my time, giving my client a credit on their bill… or just saying I’m sorry.

One Response to “My Dirty Little Secret….”

  • Justin says:

    Geesh, that really stinks.

    It makes me think of the process I’ve gone through with my schooling. (I started law school with the University of London this year.) First they were late making admissions decisions – instead of late-September early-October, it was mid-November before they let me know by email, and November 23 before I got my paperwork in the mail. (Yay international mail.) The deadline for registering, in order to take exams the following May, is November 30. There was, literally, no way I could get the paperwork filled out, get the money from the bank (had to be either a check drawn on a UK bank in pounds, or, as I found out later, a credit card – there are no UK banks around here, and US international money orders don’t count for some post office international agreement reason.)

    Then, they didn’t advise until mid-January that they extended the November 30 deadline. I didn’t go ahead and register after missing the November deadline because I couldn’t take exams anyway, why cough up my money (about $1,000) a year in advance when it could be drawing interest?

    While I was scrambling to get my registration together to meet the new deadline, I found out, again, way late, that I had to be registered for exams by February 28. Registering for exams with UOL doesn’t mean signing up on a website, especially if you’re in the US: You have to contact your testing center (there’s like 100 in the US), find out what their fee is (almost $700), get your paperwork from them, and get it back by whatever their deadline is so they can have it to London by February 28. Before you can do that though, unlike every other country they serve, US students have to contact the exams office in London to determine which of those 100 testing centers you should use. Again, literally not enough time to jump through all the hoops.

    Because they didn’t get information out in a timely manner three times in a row, I’ve had to push my whole degree back a year (UK courses are year-long, rather than semesters). I’m sticking with it, because despite the problems, the program is tailor made for my needs, but you can bet I’ll be sending stuff in months before the deadlines from now on.

    And, just to top it off and relate back to the topic of student loans, I can’t use them because UOL’s External System doesn’t have a student aid office, and the student loan people won’t talk to anybody or send the check to anybody but the student aid office. Thank goodness the degree, provided I get it in three years, is only about $5,000 (less now because the exchange rate is better).

    Argh.

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