The office manager of one of my companies stuck her head in my office a couple of days ago. "Could you look at this? It's really weird," she said.
I looked at a printed page of a website search at 411.ca. There, as it should be, was a listing of my company. One problem, though: the telephone number was wrong.
"Okay, someone made a mistake. It happens all the time. So, let's call the website in question and have them fix the problem by listing the correct telephone number," I offered as a solution.
"Well, I just got a call from a potential customer, saying she had dialled the number listed, expecting to get our company, but instead she got a competitor on the line. The guy who answered the phone told her that his company was 'just like' ours, but cheaper," she countered.
Yep, that sure qualified as weird. I checked it out further. The company at the listed telephone number was some upstart that I had never heard of. Had they deliberately initiated the listing with my corporate name, then fraudulently attached their telephone number instead of ours? My company has been around since 1968, and has a sterling reputation. Could they be trying to capitalize on that fact? Could they be stupid enough to think no-one would notice?
Or should Occam's razor be applied? Would the simplest explanation likely be the correct one? Did the listing webpage simply mix up two listings, while updating their records? Human error, perhaps?
That must be it. I called the customer service number of the website, explained what was going on, they apologized, they fixed the problem, now everything is as it should be.
I find these things very interesting, not by the fact that they happen, but by how different people perceive them. Some people see a bogeyman under every bed, a sinister motive behind every action, a disaster-in-waiting around every corner. I prefer to think that human beings are imperfect, but mostly decent. Sure there are all kinds of schemers, opportunists, and generally unprincipled individuals in the world, but they are in the minority.
And what if the action described above was, in fact, a fraudulent attempt to capitalize on my company's reputation?
I'm flattered that they chose my company rather than another competing company. And, it gave me something to write about in today's post.