Recently the Sunday Times Travel section reported an unfortunate accident. A Mr Graham Davies booked a multi-flight trip from the UK to The Philippines. He used a travel agency called CheapOair; I think that was his first mistake. I mean, would you? It’s like enthusiastically calling Rubbish Plumbers Ltd to fix a leak, or Lackadaisical Accountants LLP to look after your tax affairs?
Anyway, in the purchasing process Mr Davies’ name was spelled wrongly, and when the tickets arrived they were for a Mr Davis. So he called CheapOair and asked them to make the correction, and they told him that was not possible, and he would have to buy new tickets with his name correctly spelled at a cost of £806. And they were adamant there was nothing they, or the airline, would do about it, even when the Sunday Times consumer affairs journalist who tried to negotiate a better outcome got involved.
Mr Davies’ story reminded of the joke about the man who receives an email at work “Dear Alan, This is Bob, your next door neighbour. I feel that I must come clean about something that has been worrying me for a time now. I should really speak to you in person, but I am too wracked by guilt. Truth is, I have been sharing your wife for about 6 months now, particularly taking advantage whilst you are at work. Please accept my apologies”.
The man is incensed. He goes straight home and has a blazing row with his wife. They both get noisy, and then aggressive, and then there is a physical altercation, and she lies lifeless on the floor.
He is distraught. In the stillness of the room, his mobile phone pings with a new email. It says “ Alan, this is Bob again. I’m sure you spotted the typing mistake – of course I didn’t mean your wife, I meant your wifi. What a laugh!”.
It is superfluous for me to suggest the lesson that might come out of these stories - every seasoned negotiator has been in a situation where a simple typo (or even worse failure to recognise that predictive text has changed the gist) can significantly change a deal. SO MAKE SURE YOU CHECK!