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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

How not to respond when your company arranges for a customer to be beaten up

Say your company arranges to have someone beaten up. It doesn’t matter why you thought it was necessary to beat that person up — this is not how you respond in public: United Airlines over-booked a flight. It asked for “volunteers” to get off the plane so that four of its crew members (needed elsewhere, it seems) could fly. There were no takers, so the crew selected four people to boot off the aircraft. One man objected — and was dragged, bleeding, from the plane by airport police. Watch the video and there’s none of the usual grumbling from bystanders that would indicate that the man being hauled down the aisle on his back had been in the wrong, just expressions of “No,” “Hey,” “Come on,” “That’s wrong,” “Look at what you did to him” and a sarcastic “Good work.” The guy who posted the first Twitter video of the incident told the New York Times that the man claimed he was a doctor trying to get home because he had patients to see. (watch, run time 0:20)

How did United Airlines reply? From the company’s chief executive: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.” The story is all over the airwaves in the US and Canada and has now crossed over to the Financial Times (front page of the digital edition, at that). See Reuters, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal. 9 News out of Colorado has additional video.

Death to corporate-speak: “I apologise for having to re-accommodate these customers.” What does that even mean?

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