Weasel Words

Maybe it’s political correctness run amok. Maybe it’s a desire to avoid accountability. Whatever the cause, the business world is full of weasel words: evasions, exceptions, and buts. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it is getting harder to find people or companies who will say what they mean in a clear, straightforward, and unambiguous way.

Nick manages our Marketing efforts, which includes input on all of our customer touchpoints, including our guarantee. Here is what he had to say about the recent JetBlue imbroglio. (I never used the word "imbroglio" before. Kinda fun…)

It has been said before that a Customer Bill of Rights for air travel is long overdue. But it took a Valentine’s Day ice storm, customers stranded for over 10 hours, and multiple days of terrible press to get Jet Blue to draft a Customer Bill of Rights.

The message is simply this; “Jet Blue is a good company, we’ve been good in the past, and putting this Bill of Rights together proves that we are going to take the hit and shoulder the pain when our customers are inconvenienced. If you’re late, we’ll make it right.”

Seems very straightforward, right? "If you’re late, we’ll make it right." Not so fast.

When you read the fine print, you get a series of points like this: "Customers whose flight is delayed prior to scheduled departure for 1-2 hours due to a Controllable Irregularity are entitled to a $25 Voucher good for future travel on JetBlue."

Two words are repeated many times and stand out like a sore thumb: Controllable Irregularity. Weasel words. If the irregularity that causes your delay is uncontrollable (by the way, what defines controllable?) then you get nada.

I’m sure that mega-corporations (a.k.a. "Big Sucky Companies") have to put these weasel words in. Their lawyers and shareholders demand it. PFL’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee that is 100% weasel word free may be the true "last best guarantee." It has promises, terms and limits, clearly spelled out in plain English. I guess that’s appropriate for a company located in Montana, the "last best place."

Andrew Field is President of PrintingForLess.com, known by its thousands of happy customers as "America’s Print Shop." He works and lives along the Yellowstone River in southwest Montana.

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