CBC Maritimes

The Choppy Seas of Public Opinion/ Phone In: Is the Customer Always Right?

The Choppy Seas of Public Opinion/ Phone In: Is the Customer Always Right?
Opinion is divided over our story about a recreational sailor from the US who allegedly received some rough treatment at the hands of Canada Border Service agents.

Hey There, Sailor! : Our story about an American recreational sailor's encounter with Canada Border Services agents in Nova Scotia has drawn plenty of reaction. Dan Leger, the director of news content for Halifax's Chronicle Herald, recounted the story for us as follows :
The sailor put into port at Canso in July to attend the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. Since there was no customs & immigration agent there to process him, he called the RCMP to let them know of his arrival. The RCMP dropped down and advised him to check in with Canada Border Services when he reached Halifax.
When he did, agents confiscated his boat, and threw gear, food and spare parts around in their search for contraband. Mr Leger says they accused the sailor of consorting with criminals in Vancouver - a port he'd never visited - called him a liar, and threatened him with jail. He had to pay a $ 1000 for for landing at the wrong port and was told he'd have to pay $30,000 a day if he stayed more than 24 hours. Profoundly shaken, he set sail as soon as the wind could take him, vowing never to return. During our interview, Mr Leger roundly criticized Canada Border Services of bullying and intimidation, and noted that every one of the 1400 complaints lodged against the CBS in 2008-2009 were investigated internally - and all were dismissed. (To hear the original interview with Dan Leger, click here.)

Many of you called or emailed us responses and producer Deborah Woolway shared them with us.

Slow News Day?: Maybe. But JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater rocketed into the lineup in all media last week. The original version of the story was that Slater had been cursed by some passengers when he tried to stop them from taking luggage out of overhead bins before they were supposed to. He then unleashed an obscenity-laced tirade against abusive passengers on the PA, grabbed a couple of beer from the galley, deployed the emergency inflatable slide and slid out of the plane. Those early fragments of the story were enough for many commentators to turn Slater into a mythical figure : the downtrodden servant whose dignity justified his lashing out against the oppression of his masters.
As more details emerge, what happened that day could turn out to be quite different from the original version. But what's significant is how the story became a springboard for a million conversations about the boundaries between a front line worker and a client.
More people are employed in the service sector than ever. Some are better-trained than others, so the quality of service can range from attentive & helpful to passive-aggressive. But customers are more assertive than ever, too, and that can cross the line into abuse. So which principle should govern everyday interactions in retail outlets and restaurants, in supermarkets and in phone exchanges with consumer support representatives ?

Our guest was Len Preeper of Thinkwell Research. He's conducted research for both private & public sector clients. Our question : "Is the customer always right ?"

Podcast - requires flash to listen

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