Sorry? Really?

airport-motivational-speaker-Linda-LarsenLike many motivational speakers, I shop in airports. Clothes, jewelry, books, gifts, doodads and what-nots – they all can be found in any one of the large airports wherein I find myself on a regular basis. So when I discovered that one of my purchases didn't work, the first thing I did was to look at the receipt to see how long I had to return it for a refund.  And I was in luck. I had thirty days from the date of the purchase – and I was scheduled to be back in that airport in exactly thirty days.  Oh happy day!

I smiled brightly at the clerk when I returned, handed her my purchase and said, "Unfortunately this didn't work and I have to return it."

After looking at my receipt, she responded (with no bright smile, I might add), "You can't return this."

A little taken aback by her abrupt response, I calmly said, “Oh, I thought I would get a refund if I returned this within thirty days of the purchase."

She replied,  “Well, thirty days would make it by the 16th. Today is the 17th."

Again, exercising more restraint that I actually felt, I said, “One day late.  Wow, that’s disappointing."

And then she said it. With no emotion whatsoever, she flatly said, “Sorry.” 

Let me assure you that her tone wasn’t sorry.  Her energy wasn’t sorry.  Her face didn't LOOK sorry and she sounded anything BUT sorry. After a few more appeals on my part, I realized she was not going to grant my request, so I left, annoyed, frustrated and vowing NEVER to return to that store.

Here's what I was left with and what I wish every single person who EVER has to apologize would know:  If you are sorry about something, then with genunine caring and empathy say, “I’m sorry,” or “I really am sorry,” or “I’m so sorry.”  Something.  Anything but, “Sorry.”

Have you had this experience ever?  How did you feel about it? I'm happy for you to tell me if I'm being over-sensitive. And if I am – I'll apologize.  In a really great way.

From your motivational speaker, Linda Larsen, always looking for a better way to say things


Motivational Speaker Linda Larsen, CSP has been described by meeting planners and audiences as "hysterically funny," and "riveting." Known for her ability to connect on an authentic and emotional level with audiences, her spontaneous sense of humor, and her engaging and powerful stories, Linda is passionate about sharing ideas to help people live their finest, best, and most productive lives. Her riveting and true story of being kidnapped and held hostage at gunpoint by an escaped convict, and the strategies she used to escape, will give people the tools THEY need to rise above any of life's toughest challenges, to communicate more effectively with THEIR difficult person, and to find creative solutions to THEIR problems. To book motivational speaker, Linda Larsen: 941-927-4700

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  1. I believe this was one of those moments when an employee should be empowered to break the rules. At a minimum show true empathy. Ebay here you come!

  2. You are exactly in the right Ms. Linda! When I give one of my leadership speeches, I always say that a true leader with impact is one who says "I'm sorry" and means it. People are VERY forgiving when we apologize with sincerity. That's all we want. We know you can't break the rules. We know you have policies. We aren't asking that you shirk your responsbility. We're just asking that you care about your customer and mean it when you say you're sorry. And those are two words that will save you lots of money and lots of customers.  And if you don't agree – I'm sorry. Really. I am.

  3. You are not being overly sensitive, Linda.  Like Kelly said, all we want is sincerity from customer service.  If the owner or manager ever knew they lost a good customer like you I'm sure they would do a little more training with their employees.

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