Friday, October 08, 2010

"We are sorry for any inconvenience caused"

I am sure you may have been told over a loudspeaker that "we are sorry for any inconvenience caused". Such talk I find highly irritable.

The reason is perhaps not for lack of sincerity. If we were to be cynical, it may be the case that inconveniences were wantonly acquired because they may have helped cut company costs at the expense of our time. But not let us instead be more charitable and accept that companies would not want to use their customers in this way, as they would rather we best enjoyed their services.

My problem is the absence of responsibility. When we say that we are sorry for any  inconvenience caused, we seem to assume that it may be possible that no inconvenience has arisen. Now if no inconvenience has arisen, then there is nothing to be sorry about. So the appearance of an apology is false. Moreover, there is often the additional claim about how such possible inconvenience is necessary. Don't blame us for an inconvenience that may not exist at all. We had no choice and you may not be inconvenienced, in fact.

I'd much rather they state "we are sorry for the inconvenience caused". This would be a more clear and contrite acceptance that their customers have been subjected to an inconvenience -- such as disruptions to travel plans -- and an acknowledgement that of responsibility for this subjection.


Jon Webber said...

I'd add that they should restrict its use to cases where there's a genuine likelihood of an inconvenience caused.

Example: saying "we apologise for any inconvenience caused by our arriving five minutes late" on arrival at Edinburgh from London just fosters the idea that trains should live up to impossible expectations that you would never dream of applying to other modes of transport.

Anonymous said...

Ranks right upon there with Massachusetts subway announcement that "we have a disabled train ahead of us; we'll moving momentarily." Better (and more honestly) put: "we haven't the foggiest idea when we'll be moving."