Bauschwhacked! The Anatomy of a Recall
One of the pillars of advertising—especially direct marketing—is the guarantee of satisfaction. I have no idea what lawyers first came up with the weaseling term "Limited Warranty."
The first recorded guarantee was written by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century when he sent out a catalog offering books for sale:
Those persons who live remote, by sending their orders and money to said B. Franklin, may depend on the same justice as if present.
Whenever I write a guarantee for a client, it is always very personal and enclosed in an official-looking box. An example:
MY PERSONAL IRONCLAD GUARANTEE
You must be completely delighted with your purchase. If for any reason you are dissatisfied, you may return it for a replacement or a complete refund (including postage both ways) within 30 days with no questions asked.
A real person's signature must appear with it—either that of the CEO or the marketing manager.
No "we," "us" or "our" here. No faceless bureaucratic corporation making a faceless promise.
A real person is standing behind this product.
Sometimes the corporate lawyers will dilute my guarantee.
But I always try.
Meanwhile, according to Barnaby J. Feder's big story on the Bausch & Lomb debacle in this morning's New York Times, "a Florida woman has lost an eye and scores of other patients have undergone restorative corneal transplant surgery that has left them with astigmatism and other impairments."
"So far a dozen lawsuits are in the works, and Bausch & Lomb is looking at a potential payout of $1 billion or more."
Takeaway Points to Consider
- In dealing with a public relations crisis, it is important to let the media and the public—and customers in particular—know that a decisive, capable and honorable person is in charge.
- It can be dangerous to allow mid-level spokespersons to talk to the media. They often do more harm than good—especially if caught in a lie, as was the case with Meg Graham.