The man who taught Uber to say “sorry” (and gained invaluable business knowledge)


  • David Edmonds
  • BBC World Service


John List discovered the best way to apologize for Uber while gaining insights that are useful for the company.

When the Uber he hired drove him to the wrong destination, a professor took his complaints to the top of the company and learned something valuable about the science behind the apology.

In January 2017, John List was due to deliver an important speech at a prestigious meeting of economists.

He picked up the phone and booked a ride with Uber who took him 30 minutes from home. After briefly seeing the car driving along Lake Shore Drive, a road that circles Lake Michigan in Chicago, USA, he leaned back to prepare his speech.

About 20 minutes later, the teacher looked out the window again thinking he would be close to reaching his destination, but it was exactly where the journey began.

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