As a business or as a customer, you must demand that promises made are promises kept. If you are a business and you don't keep promises, expect to be out of business. If you are a customer and you allow promises to be broken, expect to always be treated poorly and to get second-rate goods and services. That's the way it is. History proves it. Just look at the old Soviet Union or Socialist Britain for evidence of that.
Keeping a promise is important morally, spiritually and in business. In the west, they say that, "The customer is always right." But you wouldn't know that by the poor attitude of many people working in customer service or at cash registers all over the west and in North America. Many people seem like they are pissed off at the world and just hate their jobs.
I've always found this sort of person not just annoying, but quite curious. If they hate their jobs so much, then why don't they just quit? Or, as my Punk Rock friends would say back in the late 1970's, "If you hate your job so much, why don't you just kill yourself and do us all a favor?"
In Japan, reverence for the customer is even more extreme than the west. I reckon that also might explain why service in Japan is always so excellent. In Japan, we don't say that the customer is always right, we say that, "The customer is god."
I suppose that being god does trump being right all the time, doesn't it? I guess I'd rather be god than a nagging housewife who insists that she is right all the time.
But I digress....
Sometimes, though, the Japanese can have a bizarre attitude about this. In some cases, the Japanese, even when they are god (paying money) will be more concerned with getting along than with getting what they paid for.
I can give you several good examples: When my daughter was 1 1/2 years old, she came down with a rare form of children's cancer. The doctors gave her two months to live. My then-wife was very concerned with getting along with and "communicating" with the doctors. I would have none of that. I was only concerned with my daughter's recovery. I fired those doctors (they didn't believe that she had a chance to recover) and I hired the best doctors in Japan who did believe that there was a chance.
The result? My daughter recovered and is now 18 years old and a very happy and popular high school student. My then-wife and I divorced (the price that had to be paid for my daughter's recovery I told myself). And my attitude on demanding the best from people; insisting that the people I work with believe in what they do; and insisting that people do what they say they are going to do was set in stone forever.
It was also one of the most difficult to understand lessons for me in how the Japanese think. I was floored that my wife put so much emphasis on getting along with the doctors over results.
I believe that the end result of this affair showed that I was right about being demanding.
Another weird example of the Japanese who are the people paying the money - the "Gods" here - yet are being so compliant is happening right now around me.
Recently, the neighborhood school completely cancelled summer school even though in all prior documentation from the school it is plainly written that "Due to poor enrollment, courses may be cancelled on May 11." Not to nit-pick but it says "courses" not "summer school."
I am upset about this. Some parents don't seem to care. I am astounded that they don't seem to care. Customers get poor service and broken promises and they don't seem to care?
What has the world come to when a business (in this case, a school) can just arbitrarily cancel promises made on paper and the clients (in this case, the parents) go down and don't complain and demand that the business does what it said it was going to do?
Some parents seem worried that this business (school) is going to lose money. I find that ridiculous. Not that the school is going to lose money, that the parents would be concerned with that. You'd think they'd be more worried about their child's education.
Promises. That is the point here in this second example. Not money. Not business finances. Promises. A bond of trust between clients (children & parents) and the business (school).
Mad Magazine. Remember that? Oh, yeah.
What was this article about? Broken promises! That's it!
What lessons are are people teaching their kids when they allow people to break promises so easily?
I will go even more demanding than Steve Forbes' quote at the top of this post when I quote famous US statesman Alexander Hamilton, "A promise made must never be broken."
PS: If your child ever gets cancer (I pray not) and you want some practical advice from someone who has now helped 4 people recover from cancer, write to me. I am not a doctor, but I can tell you some common sense things about what is going on and how you can do something to actually help your loved one greatly.