By Guy Corbet, 24 February 2018
Despite making the news headlines for all the wrong reasons, social media has been awash with praise for KFC this week.
They didn’t plan well when changing their delivery suppliers to DHL, but they are dealing well with the fall out of having no stock.
Their business has been suffering, but not their customers or employees.
That is to say, apart from many loyal customers missing out, nobody has been harmed. There is no “victim”. Nobody has suffered.
And that has made it very easy for KFC to apologise: clearly, unreservedly and with good humour.
Indeed, their empty “FCK” bargain bucket, may even improve their reputation.
Their apology, entitled “we’re sorry”, is unequivocal.
The apology is not hollow: it says what it is doing to fix the problem.
It is not a non-apology, vaguely commiserating with people’s hurt feelings, without addressing what has gone wrong.
It’s a real apology. And it seems to have worked. People feel better about KFC than they would otherwise. Even if they are hungry.
It’s such a shame businesses don’t behave like this more often.
More often than not, events that call for apologies do involve harm to others. Financial, physical or emotional.
When people have been harmed businesses behave differently.
Whatever they feel their moral responsibilities may be, firms allow fear of legal retribution, or their insurers, to trump doing the right thing.
They clam up. They duck, weave, and obfuscate. They go on verbal safari. They say anything but “sorry”.
And “sorry” makes a difference to people that have suffered.
It means victims don’t blame themselves. It helps them get over trauma and move on with their lives.
There is no reason why businesses should not say sorry properly.
The law is clear than an apology is not an admission of negligence or a breach of statutory duty.
But that clause in the Compensation Act 2006 is not well enough known for businesses to make use of it when they should.
Please support the Apology Clause campaign in raising awareness of this law, and in getting it clarified through a new Act or legal precedent.
Who knows, by the time you’ve signed the petition in support, the chicken may be back in stock to the relief of KFC customers across the country.
Guy Corbet is a co-founder of the Apology Clause campaign