Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Laurels (Mt. Ida and Peet's) and Darts (Delta)

The Columbia Journalism Review has a section called "Darts and Laurels", in which the editors offer short commentary on recent events in journalism, either negative or positive. With full credit and due respect to the CJR, I want to borrow their nomenclature and apply it to three recent columns I have written.

A laurel goes to the folks at Mt. Ida College for their response to my complaints about litter left by their students at a local shuttle bus stop.  Elizabeth True, vice president for student affairs, wrote back immediately, both with an expression of concern and outlining the action steps the school was taking:

We are making changes that we anticipate should resolve the matter.  First, we are changing our shuttle bus policies to allow students to carry on covered drink and food containers.  Second, we will be communicating closely with our shuttle drivers to help enforce this new policy, in addition to having them remind students to not leave litter behind.  Third, students in violation of littering will be subject to disciplinary action.  Lastly, we are meeting with our Student Government Association and other student leaders to address other ways to raise awareness and positive action on this issue.

And, tah dah!  So far, the amount of litter has dropped significantly. (I hope that the level of litter in the shuttle bus has not risen!)

A laurel, too, to Peet's Coffee, whose district manager, Susan Keller, responded immediately to my story, saying, "I apologize for the experience you had - totally unacceptable."  She happened to be en route to visit this area:

I did meet with the manager today and also some of the employees, including those you mention during your visit on Saturday, and we discussed the service expectations at Peet's as well as how to maintain them when situations like the one you had impact the overall environment and a customer's experience.

This is especially good, in that I had asked her, please, to avoid punitive action and seek an approach that would create a learning experience for the staff members involved.  She made it clear that such an approach was consistent with the company's policies.

The dart has to go to Delta Airlines.  I had filled out the company's online complaint and suggestion form, which asks for many details about the flight, and in the text box, I sent them the link to the story on this blog.  Clearly they didn't read it.  The semi-scripted response:

Thank you for your e-mail to Delta Air Lines and sorry for any inconvenience.

We would appreciate you providing additional information which will allow us to process your request.  Please provide us with the exact nature of your concern, as your mail does not specify it.

We appreciate your interest in Delta Air Lines.

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