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Five Apologies We're Still Waiting For


Toyota did it. Why can't Google, McDonald's, or Starbucks?

We've heard Toyota (TM) apologize for the slow start the company had fixing the deadly problems with its cars, and no one will forget the lengths that JetBlue (JBLU) took in apologizing for trapping its customers on a tarmac for several hours, but what about those apologies that never quite got past a company's PR machine? Or those meek regrets that just weren't up to snuff?

Most companies have the sense to publicly apologize when they screw up, but others just haven't been able to utter those two magical image-saving words: "We're sorry." Meanwhile, some companies manage to apologize, but not in a way that reaches all of the constituents that they hurt in the first place or in a way that expresses the remorse they should be showing considering the gravity of the situation.

Being a public company means having to say you're sorry -- in a very big way, over and over again. Here are five apologies we're still waiting to hear.


The commander of all things Internet recently made two mishaps when trying to expand its reach further into the digital realm -- Wave and Buzz. The former didn't have any serious issues, but Wave did turn out to be a total waste of time. By now, consumers expect Google to have products that are not only functional, but create a whole new level of user-friendliness for products we already had (for example: Google's Gmail is light years better than other free mail services). Yet, Wave turned out to be little more than a glorified chat room.

Meanwhile, Buzz turned out to be a full-blown public relations faux pas. The company failed to explain to all of its Gmail users that their personal contacts were now going to be exposed to the world in a Facebook-esque feed. This didn't mesh well with customers who expect privacy to be paramount. Google users everywhere were still waiting for the apology for the time they wasted opening and sending Wave invitations. Their trust was violated further when they found out they were suddenly "following" their exes, something all their contacts could see.

(See, Google: Ruining Marriages One Buzz at a Time.)

Google did manage to fix things a bit after the initial public outcry about Buzz and it wrote a blog post saying as much. But the Gmail blog wasn't the place to proclaim regrets. Moreover, it was a feeble apology: The word "sorry" was included for the first and only time in the last paragraph of the seven-paragraph post. To make matters worse, comments from Chief Executive Eric Schmidt negated any apologetic tone Google's PR team might have had when he downplayed the problem by merely calling it "confusion."

McDonald's (MCD)

The world's most prolific fast-food chain has committed a crime against nature, or at least our stomachs, by pulling the McRib off the market -- again. McDonald's has been playing with the world's emotions for years by reintroducing and then retiring the spicy, barbecue-gooeyness of the McRib. It all began in the 1980s when the pork sandwich made its first appearance on the McDonald's menu only to be removed by the time the decadence of the 1990s rolled in. The McRib has made several highly publicized appearances since, including its tie-in with The Flintstones movie in 1994.

The sandwich has had at least three "Farewell Tours" over the years and has evoked plenty of online petitions of fans who want the boneless pork sandwich to be a permanent fixture in their lives. Meanwhile, other Internet petitions have been circulated by traditional barbecue fanatics in an effort to banish the boneless pork patty shaped to look like it has rib bones.

Yet, the McRib-lovers can't be kept down. There are websites dedicated to people's love of the barbecue sandwich and even one that tracks the latest sightings of the McRib across the country.

Despite the McRib's popularity and appearance on some famous shows like The Simpsons and How I Met Your Mother, McDonald's hasn't brought it back as part of the permanent menu and doesn't seem to be sorry about it.
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