Goodwill, what


Graham HillYears ago, I was general
manager for a company in Brighton. One of my responsibilities was
to appease customers who were let down by our salesmen or service

They were not major problems. Typical ones would be
if a salesman had an extended lunch and turned up late for an
appointment, or an engineer got delayed at the bookies.

A swift letter of apology and a gesture of
goodwill, such as a bunch of flowers or a bottle of Scotch, worked
a treat, after which I would go and poke the offending member of
staff in the eye.

This was quite acceptable behaviour in those

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More recently, I acquired a bracelet made up of
three black crystals. Subsequently, all three fell off – when the
bracelet was still in its box.

After I complained, the manufacturer, after stating
that the bracelet was neither faulty nor suffering a manufacturing
defect, agreed to replace the bracelet as a gesture of

But by far the most generous company I have dealt
with recently has been French manufacturer Peugeot.

I recently got embroil in a dispute with the French
car manufacturer over a warranty claim that was made two days
before it ran out.

While the company denied that it was a valid claim,
as a gesture of goodwill a very nice lady at Peugeot agreed to pay
for the £800 repair.

It was not responsible, but it still gave away the
repairs as well as the £300 cost of the two inspections that the
dealer was going to charge my client, as insisted upon by the

This made my gestures of goodwill seem rather
pathetic. How could I compete with these extravagant gestures of

Or are they? Are we now just seeing companies
trying to avoid their responsibilities?

photoMy client incurred costs and was greatly
inconvenienced while her car was being inspected and repaired.

Had she had a genuine claim, denied by Peugeot,
they would no doubt have had to spring for more than a bunch of
bloody flowers or a box of chocolates! It’s a disgrace.

Even leasing companies that send customers
ridiculous and unjustified end of contract charges refuse to admit
that they have made a mistake. They just roll out the “gesture of
goodwill” and offer to write off the debt.

It has to stop. I took on a lender which tried to
charge me over £2,000 in end of contract charges. It ended up
sending me a cheque for over £500.

Gesture of goodwill – don’t think so. It is
about time companies took responsibility for their actions.