« Local boy wants to make good | Main | I suppose this was inevitable... »

Someone call Ripley's...

Earlier this week, in Lexington, Massachusetts, a house blew up. The occupants got out just in time, but the Civil War-era home was virtually levelled.

Initial reports indicated a gas leak might have been responsible, but the fire department said it would take more investigation.

That didn't stop the local gas company, Keyspan, from swinging into action. They conducted their own investigation, and issued a statement immediately, saying it was too early to be sure, and they stood by their record of safe operations, and that their lawyers advised them to not say anything publicly until all the facts were in.

Whoops, my bad. That's the standard Corporate CYA mentality there.

What Keyspan actually did was this:
1) Arrange for housing for those people affected by the blast.
2) Set up a claims line for people to call and report their losses.
3) Figured out just what happened (someone put high-pressure gas into a low-pressure line), admitted it publicly, apologized, and got right to work on fixing it and making sure it doesn't happen again.

What Keyspan did was what we should expect from responsible companies -- they took the right, honorable, and honest course. It's something that's sorely lacking these days -- largely fueled by our increasingly-litigious society, but our system of rewarding those who don't take personal responsibility for their actions.

I expect Keyspan will get sued over this, but so far it looks like they'll make right by people without that club. And if anyone thinks they hit the jackpot from this screwup, I hope Keyspan countersues them for defamation.

It's so damned rare that one can look at a big company like Keyspan and be impressed with their actions. They deserve to be singled out for praise.

Comments (6)

Here Here Jay. When a compa... (Below threshold)

Here Here Jay. When a company dose the right think, and still gets sued, kinda takes away from the desire to do the right thing. If you still get sued, and there's no allowances for the good things you've done,might as well take your changes in court, and save the money on the good deeds.

Serious advice for people i... (Below threshold)

Serious advice for people in business. This is the correct reaction.

When you screw up (as you will) do what your Mother taught you. Put your hand up, claim responsibility, apologise, promise not to do it again and try to make things better, not necessarily in that order.

Happened with us in the second year of our business, we screwed up sending supplies to a customer. We did all of the above, got them the correct material in a couple of days (hey, it came from Russia! A guy had to get on the plane carrying it.), took the wrong stuff back, didn’t complain or whine etc.

They haven’t asked another company to so much as bid for the supply contract in a decade.

I agree. When I saw the Key... (Below threshold)

I agree. When I saw the Keyspan spokesman on the local news and was surprised at the honest straight forward approach to telling what happened and taking responsibility to fix it.
In retorspect it is sad that this behavior is so rare it is shocking.

They did the right thing an... (Below threshold)

They did the right thing and it may save them money in the long run... I can relate.

Long story short: A couple of years ago my wife's doctor wrote a prescription wrong on the pad (but right in her notes) that gave my wife a chronic overdose of a central nervous system drug. Walgreen's happily filled it even though their system flagged it as being for twice the maximum doseage for an adult. My wife became altered at work and after the error was discovered she spent a night in the hospital in the cardiac ward for monitoring (the overdose was overworking her heart).

The reactions from Walgreen's and the doc's practice (which was owned by the hospital) was night and day. Walgreen's did a classic CYA. It wasn't their fault, the doc wrote it down wrong. A regional manager tested the script on their software and it would have red-flagged... meaning someone intentionally over-rode the system so it could be filled. They made no effort, contrary to their professional licensing requirements, to contact the script writer to confirm the doseage. To them it was 100% the doc's fault.

Compare that to the hospital (that owned the doc's practice) and the doc. While we were still in the ER a risk management rep from the hospital appeared and she said the hospital and doc had admitted responsibility. She said all medical costs, lost wages, child care, etc. whould be paid for by them. I expected to be asked to then sign a waiver absolving them from all further liability, but no request was ever made. They dropped the legal drawers in front of us and said "Go ahead, kick us. We deserve it."

A day later when my wife was released from the hospital, she had a follow-up visit to the doc. The doc was almost in a state of shock. She apologized personally, explained what happened, and said she'd understand and not blame my wife if she never used her services again.

Bottom line, my wife still sees the doc and no suits were filed.. however we won't set foot in Walgreen's. It's all because of their attitudes and response to the situation.

I work in the convention bu... (Below threshold)

I work in the convention business, and do a lot of medical shows.

A few years ago, I saw a presentation by an ophthalmic surgeon, who videotapes all of his work. When he screws up, it's all right there for the record. He makes it an ironclad policy to come right out and tell people when he messes up, even though they might never notice. He mentioned that his malpractice claims are less frequent, and about half the dollar value they used to be...

My head nearly exploded rea... (Below threshold)

My head nearly exploded reading that. It's so rare that I can barely believe it.






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