August 13, 2009

When things go wrong.

So I’m human, and I screw up. Those who have followed the blog for a while are probably aware of this fact, given that there have been probably a dozen posts with the title “My screwup, your gain” or something to that effect.

Generally, when I mess up, I admit it, do my best to make the fellow (or lady) with the frame happy (up to and including building them a new frame) and then, if nothing else works, give them their money back and wish them the best. No hard feelings, sometimes what I do just doesn’t work for the customer – it’s my job to suss out whether or not I can make someone happy *before* they drop a deposit. I basically believe that 2-5% of the general population is totally insane and will never be happy with *anything*, so detecting those folks is key. My psycho-dar is pretty good at this point (see the “how to seduce a framebuilder” post for more on that). I like to send the nutty folks to XACD (an infamously bad and difficult to deal with Chinese bicycle factory).

So I’ve followed with interest some competing posts from the customer’s and builder’s POV on MTBR in the last few days (I’m not involved in their dispute, and won’t provide any links in the interest of not further enraging anyone, but you can figure out what I’m talking about if you poke around on the framebuilder’s and singlespeed boards a bit). I find the dispute interesting for a couple of reasons – first because I sympathize to some extent with the builder, and secondly because it’s an interesting snapshot into human nature – both parties are willing to fight things out to the bitter end, despite the fact that either of them could choose to end the dispute at any time – and they’d BOTH be better off. So it’s an interesting example of human irrational psychology in action.

People have a very hard time with throwing good money/time/effort after bad. Then again, people aren’t always rational – we value a loss much more (ie, we’ll try harder to avoid it) than we’ll work for an equivalent gain. What if I told you I had a job opportunity for you – you can spend days arguing with some jerk on the phone, fight over credit card charges, and then spend months fighting a stupid legal battle (you’re responsible for hiring the attorney, btw) – and I’ll pay you a fat $1000. You’d refuse instantly, right? But if I tried to take $1000 from you, you’d fight and fight to keep it. Crazy!

So long story short, I didn’t get into this gig to get into acrimonious (hot words for the SAT, you rock) verbal battles with customers. If I blow it, I’ll generally admit it and try to make it right. If I really blow it, I’ll hand you your money back and wish you the best. I probably have been taken advantage of on this in my “career”, but that’s ok by me. I’d rather lose a few bucks and be the nice guy.

Karma, bro. It’s all about Karma.