April 1, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if a newspaper was silly enough to try and guarantee 100% satisfaction? I suspect that old adage is on its way out for all businesses because it simply is a misnomer. In todayís world Iím not sure there is such a thing as 100% satisfaction.

The old saying goes you canít please all the people, all the time. Iíd settle for pleasing some of the people, some of the time.

Before I start whining, I would like to thank all the folks that offered kind words this week on the premier of full color in our newspaper.

As ironic as it seems, in the midst of what I felt was one of our greater accomplishments, we had one of our worst weeks as far as pleasing the public.

Iím not asking for sympathy here. Iím not taking a shot at those who helped turn this week upside down either. Instead I guess Iím simply offering the premiere of our new office policy.

As of March 25, we will no longer tolerate rude and obnoxious behavior toward our staff. If we have made an error, or failed to perform a prescribed task for a customer, we will gladly make every effort to correct the issue, refund the purchase price or whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.

That said, we will not allow said customer the opportunity simply to berate, belittle or otherwise subject our employees to unending criticism.

Itís not open season on the newspaper folks. Just because we goofed, doesnít give you the right to come in and take out your frustrations on the closest employee.

Maybe itís just me, but I keep asking myself what is the world coming too? More and more, people simply are looking for something to be mad about. The simplest typo sets people off into tirades of name-calling and fits of anger. We put your picture on page 2 instead of the front cover and you wonít say high to me on the street?

Jeez, get a grip. Weíre human, we make mistakes. What good does it do to come in and try to belittle the publication or the people that put it together? Does it make you feel better if you make one of our workers cry because they spelled your name with an I instead of an E? Could you think of anymore four-letter words to hurl at us because we accidentally left your kid off of the honor roll? Or are you going to punch me out because I didnít word your wedding announcement exactly the way that you wanted it?

Getting aggravated over a minor inaccuracy in print, doesnít erase that mistake. It definitely doesnít make correcting that minor issue a top priority for the author when it is handled in such an unprofessional manner.

So what is gained by such behavior? Whatever damage is done by saying you were 51, instead of 52 (most people would be happy to lose a year) - well itís done. We can offer to correct it, repair it or re-run it. But we will no longer stand there and take a 15-minute butt chewing just to allow you a little satisfaction.

Iím sure you feel like your kid is #1 and should be on the front page every issue. We donít have a staff meeting each week and go through all of our material to try to find the best stories and pictures to ďhideĒ on the back page.

Iím not telling you to stop calling and making suggestions, comments or even complaints. We acknowledge readerís input and truly appreciate knowing what you like and donít like in the newspaper.

Iím sorry if there is too much sports coverage or too many editorials, or whatever. However, itís not like we are leaving anything else out to make space for these items. If you havenít noticed, weíve expanded our coverage from the regular 12-page paper of a few years ago to 16, 20 or even 24 pages on a regular basis. My best advice is, if you donít like a particular column or news article, just donít read it. Like I said, weíve tried to add plenty of other items that hopefully will be of interest to you.

Iím sure this will probably just touch off another storm. All these folks will show me - again. Theyíll call up or come in and throw even bigger fits and maybe even cancel their subscriptions. To be honest, that would be fine by me. Every subscription counts but no oneís $25.56 a year buys them the right to treat the newspaper staff with such disrespect and total lack of civility.

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