Yesterday I received this email:
I would strongly advise that you confine your blog to facts that you will be able to prove in due course if necessary.
You are not entitled to try and make a name for yourself as a writer via internet exposure at the expense of the reputation of a largely innocent party. I regard you to be impossible to please and, with respect, it is likely that an average person reading your rantings, eg about a cappuccino that took 6 minutes to deliver, would conclude similarly. I would honestly suggest that that you either stick to fiction writing or do something about improving your memory recall.
My rights and the rights of the Canal Walk franchisee are reserved.
In the event of you persisting with the disclosure of false, grossly exaggerated, or in some cases, trumped up facts about Dodge City, I will have no option other than to enforce the full extent of my right to relief against you without further notice.
I replied, trying to absolutely stick to the issue: the service was bad, he acknowledged the service was bad, but he wants me to “amend” my blog in some way but won’t respond to my multiple requests to tell me where he believes my blog is in error and in need of amendment:
On 08/09/08 I received the following from you: Video footage of the event shows that you entered the store at 9.44am and left 15 minutes later at 9.59am - not 30 minutes as you suggest.
On 09/09/08, in my very next blog entry, I corrected the error: I was incorrect about the time…it was 15 minutes, not 30, and I also emailed my acceptance of your service time: Since we paid in cash and did not have a time-stamped credit-card receipt, we could but guess at the length of time we spent at the store. I will accept your video time of fifteen minutes,
Later that same day you responded: The 6 minutes it took to get the coffee to you was slower than standard time allowed. Problem was that the milk had not been foamed in advance. Re the Canderel - they did have the product in the store but could not find it. No excuses - staff should no[sic] known where it was kept. Your waitress did not leave the store to get the Canderel - one of the managers did….The Franchisee has been advised of your grievance and has assured me that remedial action will be taken to get product delivery times back to Franchise standard… On behalf of Dodge City Diner, please accept my apologies
I did not respond to this mail as I considered the matter closed at this point: you acknowledged at least some of the problems and apologized for our unfortunate experience. My husband and I discussed it and decided that we would not return.
On 10/09/08, two days later, you sent me this email: “I would like to ask that you please consider the merits of amending your blogg [sic] regarding Dodge City. The justification behind my request for amendment is as follows: 1. Video footage suggests that your blogg [sic] does not reasonably represent the facts or sequence of events surrounding your service experience. 2. It is reasonable to suggest that the blogg [sic], in its current form, would do unreasonable damage to the goodwill of the Dodge City brand and the investment of the Canal Walk franchisee.
There was nothing in this mail, however, to indicate what you thought needed to be amended. Up to this point, in fact, you had been in agreement that the service was, based on your own observations via your own video footage, below your own corporate standard...and the one error you had pointed out to me had already been corrected.
I replied the same day saying: “Yesterday I posted a follow up blog entry in which I corrected the time difference, acceding to your time of 15 minutes for our entire visit and 6 minutes for delivery of our drinks. In what way do “the facts or sequence of events” differ in your video as compared to my blog? Assuming that I am willing to make an amendment, I cannot do so without knowing the points of contention…” Later in the mail I reiterated the point: “To the best of [my] knowledge and recollection, my blog is correct. If you can demonstrate where it is not, I will take amendment under consideration.”
Your reply on 10/09/08 acknowledges my correction: Thanks for amending the service times recorded in your revised blog. The remainder of your reply, however, does not address my requests for you to indicate where my blog and your video tape diverge. Your email, however, does request that I amend my blog to include certain inflammatory accusations that were included in your email, and I have complied with that request. A new entry was made to the blog with your mail quoted in its entirety, thereby precluding the possibility of a misquote or fault with my memory leading to something incorrect being published.
On 11/9/08, I responded to your email, again pointing out that I had asked you where our versions of the events diverged: I asked you to provide me with examples of how your video footage differs substantively from my blog, since amendment is impossible if I don’t know what needs to be amended. And I furthermore indicated a willingness to comply with your request (as I had already done twice by correcting the time and by publishing your statement as requested): Instead of providing the information I need in order to comply with your request, however, you respond with an ad hominem attack and gratuitous insults.
On the morning of 11/9/08, my husband also responded to your email of 10/09/08, providing correction to erroneous information supplied to you by your staff. To date, he has not received a reply or even an acknowledgment of receipt from you.
Which brings us to your missive of yesterday afternoon: You state: I would strongly advise that you confine your blog to facts that you will be able to prove in due course if necessary.
You see, therein lies the problem: we both are in possession of a set of “facts” which we each believe to be true. You, however, are the only person in possession of both sets of “facts,” and you aren’t sharing. Since I don’t have possession of the video footage and I cannot read your mind, I can’t change anything on the blog without input from you. Since I don’t know what you are taking issue with, I cannot amend that which so distresses you.
Since you have agreed in writing that the service was below your own standard and I have corrected the time error, I don’t know what other “facts” remain in dispute. I have asked more than once for you to give me the information and you have not been forthcoming. I am therefore unable to make amendments to satisfy you without knowing what is in dispute.
You further state: In the event of you persisting with the disclosure of false, grossly exaggerated, or in some cases, trumped up facts about Dodge City… Please indicate which facts I have disclosed that are false, grossly exaggerated, or trumped up. I do not have the option of retracting, correcting, amending, or otherwise changing statements with which you take issue until and unless you reveal to me what they are.
Well, you’d think this would be sufficient to bring the man to the realization that I’m not unwilling to correct errors, but since I don’t see any remaining errors, he’s just going to have to rub my myopic little nose in them.
Here’s what I got in response:
You have a legal obligation to ensure that any disclosure by yourself, that negatively impacts on Dodge City's reputation in the marketplace, fairly represents the true state of affairs.
I have no obligation to convince you that my account of events correct. My obligation is limited to drawing your attention to the fact that your disclosures on the internet are regarded to be unreasonably damaging to Dodge City's reputation, that the Brand is likely to be suffering damages as a result thereof, and to advise you that you are legally liable for any damages suffered after your receipt of the said notice.
Dodge City's conduct in dealing with your initial email complaint to me was in line with international best practice ie I accepted your version of events without question and made a geuine effort to make amends - in your case, thanking you for taking the trouble to draw the matter to my attention, and offering 3 times the value of purchase as compensation. Dodge City seldom receives customer complaints, but when received they are dealt with consistently, urgently and responsibly - as was done in your case. In this regard, your attention is drawn to the following facts:
1. I attempted to email a response within hours of receipt of email - albeit being a Sunday afternoon. The mail was returned undelivered..
2. I came across your complaint on the web during a regular search to review customer feedback that evening. The nature and wording of your complaint was outside of the norm, suggesting that it was backed by a motive that extended beyond simply wanting to raise a genuine grievance. It is likely that an average reader of your blog would conclude that you derived a degree of pleasure from the process of complaining and relished the prospect of doing unreasonable damage to the Dodge City brand.
3. Your response to my efforts to make good, and to appease you in general, was contemptious. I am not sure what you were expecting by way of compensation but 99,999% of complainants would have been more than happy with the genuine apology and the R50 voucher.
4. Dodge City welcomes customer feedback - regardless of whether positive or negative. We do not victimise complainants as you suggest may happen to you.
I reiterate that in the event of you persisting with the disclosure of false, grossly exaggerated, or in some cases, trumped up facts about Dodge City, I will have no option other than to enforce the full extent of my right to relief against you without further notice.
I'm going to have to ponder my response to this one, since I'm getting the strong smell of paternalism here. Correct me if I am wrong, but is he no longer focussing on alleged misstatements of fact and has gone on to try to tell me (and by extension, every other blogger in the world) not only what I can say but how I can say it? I'm open to suggestions, opinions, and insights.
Lekker weekend, you guys!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Yesterday I received this email: