During Hurricane Sandy, Boloco made a huge mistake: They sent out an email bragging that they were open during the hurricane. The moment they hit SEND, the hate email (and Tweets, status updates, etc.) rained down.
Within an hour, CEO John Pepper had issued the below apology.
From: John Pepper (Boloco CEO & Co-Founder)
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 2:15 PM
Subject: A Sincere Apology (again) from Boloco re: Hurricane Sandy
To all of our customers and friends,
We sent a “fun” email about an hour ago to let you know that despite the incoming storm we are, yes, OPEN for business.
Since then, we’ve received more hate mail in a 60 minute span than at any other time. Here are a few examples:
“WTF are you bragging about keeping your stores open for? T is closing at 2, let your employees go home! Bad form.”
“Let your employees go home! You are ridiculous! I wouldn’t eat there if I was starving, if that’s the way you treat your employees!”
“That’s insane. Keep your employees safe. That makes burritos taste better.”
“Guess what Boloco – there’s no one in town because most companies care for their employees and told them to stay home.
“These “yes, we’re open” emails are starting to make you all look like dirtbags.”
“What are you a bunch of idiots!!!!! Not only are you putting the lives of your staff at risk, you are now trying to get customers to come in and put their lives at risk. For what????? A couple dollars. You have got to be the biggest bunch of a**holes I’ve ever heard of…”
“Well, smarten up, and close! No point in putting employees at risk…”
“I’d hate for your employees to have to sleep in the booths in their respective restaurants. Please, please send them home.”
For the record, we have allowed all team members who need or want to go home to do so. Many didn’t come this morning. For those who stay, we have offered to pay for taxi fares home and offered to give them rides (I have offered to drive people myself).
We have no visions of making great chunks of money today. We won’t. No, we stay open because we employ people on an hourly basis who rely on Boloco being open to pay their bills and care for their families. When we close, they make no money.
As long as we all, collectively, deem it to be safe for our team members to be at work and can provide team members with safe and reliable transportation home, we will always opt to give them a chance to earn the income they need.
I’m sorry that yet another email has now been added to your endless inboxes, but I thought some of you would appreciate an honest explanation and apology for this misunderstanding.
Stay safe everyone. We’ll take care of ourselves, our families, and our team members, and you do the same for you and yours!
CEO & Co-Founder
This is how you write an effective apology. It is honest, sincere and does a great job of explaining Boloco’s side of the story without getting defensive. I’ll bet John won their customers back and then some.
Lesson: Your customers will give you a second chance — if you prove you’re worthy of it.