Not gone, just moved somewhere else.
My wife recently had an oil change performed by a Cleveland business that also washes cars. She had oil changes done before at the same place without incident but this time she was told by the person in charge that her car needed synthetic oil and the cost could be over $100. As she usually pays around $30 she called me to ask what I thought. The person had told her that the old oil had already been drained and the engine could be damaged if regular oil was used. He also said that once regular oil was used you could not return to using synthetic.
My wife had used the services of this particular business on many occasions, both for oil changes and car washes, with never a complaint. It had always been reasonably priced with excellent quality work. But this time she felt that she was being taken advantage of using scare tactics because she was a woman with limited knowledge of auto mechanics. She was not convinced she was being told the truth about the oil and felt she was being ripped-off.
This incident got me thinking about business reputations being marred by the actions of one misguided employee and how much damage could be done in a lifetime of employment by just one person moving from job to job.
It is not just oil and lube shops that suffer, or just retail to the public firms, it carries across all aspects of life. A bad employee repeats being bad no matter where he works or what he works at, and most times without the knowledge of the boss. The boss may wonder why business is failing with dwindling customers but never knows the real reason.
It may not be entirely fair to desert the business for the actions of one worker because after the worker is gone you may be doing business with the new company that hired him.
Think about it. How many people have you met that you know are doing a lousy job. Year after year after year.
Government have their fair share of lousy employees. They don't bring down the company because government have a captive customer base and when the public gets outraged over an employee's conduct the worker is quietly moved to another department to continue the process. In some cases, like bad teachers, they can damage generations that cross their path with no incentive to change their ways or improve.
Society has promulgated meaningful policies to identify and reward excellence but seems completely inept at weeding out those doing damage. While thankfully bad cops are rare, those kicked out of one force quickly find another to carry on being a bad cop. Unless they are convicted of a crime they circulate society bringing disrepute to every force they serve. Undermining public confidence and devaluing the work of the thousands of good cops.
Finally though, there seems to be hope to encourage permanent change among dysfunctional employees. The Internet has changed so many ways of doing business that it is also starting to hold individuals, not just companies, accountable for their actions. The overzealous government employee or the crooked cop, or the rude sales person, can no longer expect to remain under the radar for life. Websites like AngiesList.com help identify rogue tradesmen, and public forums on every subject imaginable quickly point the finger at anyone scamming the public, so there is hope.
There are laws being proposed to control the Internet especially postings affecting reputations of public officials. One can only guess at the type of people wanting this legislation. The cry that it is spiteful gossip is unsubstantiated. The few that do abuse the web are probably also members of the bad worker group anyway.
That's what I think. What do you think?
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