The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Two magic words, big effects ... 

I just read an interesting story from the Associated Press, 'Sorry' Seen As Magic Word to Avoid Suits, that serves as a reminder of something that too few people do. If you screw something up, say sorry and get on with fixing it. So many of the complaints to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, in my reading, are based on minor incidents that should never have gotten to a formal complaint. Many could have been resolved by handling the complaint differently.

In my experience, there are three kinds of "complainers". The first is the "complainer", who is bound and determined to complain, no matter what. The second kind, who I call "the martyr", adopts whatever bad thing they experienced as a cause and are bound and determined to make sure their suffering is well known and will not happen to anyone else. The third kind (who is missing a snappy nickname) just wants it fixed, if possible, and wants to hear sorry. The complainer usually can't be satisfied. The martyr can be satisfied, if you can show him/her what you've fixed so that it won't happen again. The third is easily confused with the complainer, but is closest to the martyr. Fixing the problem so it won't happen again and saying sorry will satisfy them. Case closed.

The sad thing is that, if you get very defensive with any of them, it will be a big production with all the associated lost time and expense.

The moral of the story is to (i) listen to the person, (ii) identify the problem, (iii) fix the problem, (iv) tell them it's fixed and (v) say sorry. If they are a complainer, then there is more work to be done. If they are among the latter two categories, you can go on with your day knowing that you've probably saved a lot of time and bother. But you've probably also saved the customer relationship, which is also important.

End of Psychology 101 for today, class...


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