By Christopher Elliott
If youâ€™ve been alive long enough to collect an allowance from your parents, chances are youâ€™ve been burned by a business.
It happens to all of us: We buy something, it isnâ€™t the product we expected, and the company tells us, â€śTough luck!â€ť
To be fair, a vast majority of business transactions are perfectly satisfactory. If they werenâ€™t, then civilization as we knew it would probably grind to a halt, and our economy would collapse.
But when do you give a business a second chance?
Change of management.
When a business is under new management (and especially when it advertises that fact), then the odds are good that itâ€™s trying to turn over a new leaf. Many of its policies might have changed and itâ€™s likely that its products have, too.
New name, new look.
Just like the change in management, a company-wide â€śrebrandingâ€ť can signal that the company is headed in a new, and maybe better, direction. This can sometimes also happen after it emerges from bankruptcy protection.
Maybe it wonâ€™t sell the same shoddy products as before â€” it wouldnâ€™t hurt to find out.
A public apology.
When a business does something truly awful and is fined by the government or must issue a public mea culpa, it has the potential to change the very DNA of the corporation.
At least in the short term, a public â€śIâ€™m sorryâ€ť may lead to better service or a quality product. (An empty private apology for â€śthe way you feelâ€ť is not enough. Those are worthless.)
They discontinue the product that burned you.
If a company turns its back on the product that made you end your relationship â€” and thatâ€™s especially true if it publicly disavows the product â€” then you should consider returning.
It may mean that the business is dedicated internally to building a better product or offering a better service.
If you believe your expectations might have been too high.
Sometimes you buy something and want it to be more than it is. So when youâ€™re disappointed, the problem isnâ€™t the business â€” itâ€™s you. If you think that may be the case, you have my blessing to give the company a second chance.
A company can change and improve, but itâ€™s difficult. Businesses rarely do it on their own. Relentless pressure from customers, investors, the market, and government regulators can help, but thereâ€™s no way to tell for certain if your experience will be better than the last time.