Bed Bugs on British Airways

Insects freak me out… I really don’t like them nor feel any need to come to terms with my phobia about bugs. Reading this story about bed bugs on a British Airways flight made my skin crawl but it was this comment from the un-named BA rep that really made my blood boil:

BA said it was “extremely rare” for it to hear of bed bugs on any of the 250,000 flights it has every year.

This is just about the lamest response that a company can give… in fact, saying something like this just makes people believe they are being untruthful and uncaring. First of all, would they ever come out and say “well bed bugs are actually pretty common on airplanes” or “yes this is a problem”. Obviously the answer is no.

More significantly, parse the statement carefully and what they are saying is that they don’t hear about it, not that it doesn’t happen.

This is the problem with traditional customer service, the old world model was based entirely on contained channels for customer feedback but up here in the 21st century customers don’t immediately go to customer support… increasingly they go to Twitter or Facebook or a blog, so when they actually do go to customer support you had better damn well take care of them because they are giving you every opportunity to make something right before pulling the trigger and unleashing their displeasure in a channel the company cannot effectively minimize.

People elicit sympathy, companies do not… does anyone reading the linked story doubt that what Ms. Selkirk says happened to her is anything but fact? Does anyone reading this story actually believe that British Airways acted with care and compassion while making a good faith effort to remedy the problem their customer experienced?  Done, stick a fork in it… BA needs to go back to school on customer service (and get their planes cleaned while they are at it).


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British Airways plc Begins Its New Life
iPads will fly with some British Airways passengers
British Airways Delivers Baggage Delay Compensation
Read more on British Airways at Wikinvest

The State is a Tragedy of the Commons

This is one of the most interesting and insightful pieces of commentary that I have read in a long time:

When the money of a society is defined as common property by a State, nearly EVERYTHING in that society necessarily becomes common property, since nearly everything in society has a price.

If each individual actor in a society perceives that his own property (money) is not really his own, but is common property, he will rationally act to horde as many resources (physical things) for himself, through the political system, as he possibly can before the common pool of resources is depleted.   Under a common property money, this drive by the public to expand State power becomes instinctive and rational.

When the democratic State has the ability to take as much money as it likes from whomever it choses, it will necessarily and eventually turn the entirety of society against itself.  It will foster, through the public trough, a mad rush for each political interest group to acquire as many resources as they can, as quickly as they can, before those resources are expropriated by other interest groups. Of course, the largest and most powerful interest groups will always get the biggest slice of the pie.

Silicon Valley Loves Memos

Remember the Peanut Butter Manifesto? Now we have the Burning Platform Screed… Silicon Valley loves memos like this.

Memos don’t change companies any more than elections change politics. History is replete with examples of companies who in the midst of recognizing the cause of their long term decline failed to do anything differently. Memos don’t change companies, people do and inside the halls of large companies the ability of people to change course and behave in fundamentally different ways is limited.

We can get frothy about Nokia’s new CEO laying bare the problems at Nokia but I’ll still short Nokia because the problems at Nokia are not technology or product related, they are cultural.

Blame the Audience

From what we’ve heard, the Chicago-based company doesn’t believe the commercials were misguided, but rather that it made a mistake by not directing folks to a Web site, where it was raising money for certain causes and matching up to $100,000 in donations. The site,, should have been mentioned in the commerciasl instead of expecting consumers to make the jump on their own from to a link on the side of the page.

Groupon Backpedals, AllThingsD

Groupon has been taking a lot of heat for their Super Bowl ads… I didn’t watch the Super Bowl and have not seen the commercials in question so I really can’t comment on whether or not they come across as offensive. However, given the near unanimous negative reaction to them, yeah I would say it would be hard for Groupon to assert that these ads were anything but in poor taste and offensive to the audience they were trying to reach but there is also a “piling on” effect and I’m not going to contribute to that.

By the way, I also agree with Tricia Duryee that these ads, no matter how negatively they are reviewed, will not have an impact on Groupon. Consumers will still flock to the site and fuel their incredible growth.

What interests me is Groupon’s reaction to this, which is best summed up as the audience didn’t get our humor and our credentials in philanthropic circles are impeccable, and if a mistake was made it was not putting the website addresses for the signature organizations on the ads.

This strikes me as a pretty lame response when the entire controversy would go away with this simple statement:

“We screwed up and we’re sorry. The ads are reviewed and what we don’t pull we will edit to reflect our commitment to these issues.”