Thursday, 18 February 2016

Accused of lying?

There are fun logic puzzles, such as the paradox "This statement is a lie", and of course more subtle variants of that theme.

But I have just come across a rather fun "complaint".

The complaint is that we accused someone of lying. Apparently, accusing someone of lying is a bad thing, and really bad "customer service". Obviously anything where the customer is not happy is, by definition, bad customer service. However, personally, I don't see a problem with accusing someone of lying, if, in fact, they have lied. I have a problem with lying.

But it struck me as an almost "clever" sort of complaint, as there is really no way to answer the complaint without it being true!

If I investigate and find that we did in fact accuse the person of lying, well, then it is true.
If I investigate and find that we did not accuse them of lying, as is the case here, then my finding is now accusing them of lying about the accusation of lying!

Either way, we end up accusing them of lying. Catch 22!

Oh well, I will have to agree that we accused them of lying or are now accusing them of lying. I'll not dispute in any way that we have or are accusing them of lying and not dispute in any way that it was bad customer service. After all, I would not want a "dispute" that might need "resolving".

I should say well done to the customer for coming up with a self confirming complaint though.


  1. Is it so binary? If your investigation does not turn up evidence of someone lying to them, could your answer not be that you have investigated and found X, y and z, and perhaps they interpreted this as being an accusation of lying? You are not doubting that that was how it was received - how the customer feels - but that that was not the intent behind the words of the speaker. You appreciate that the customer is aggrieved, and you've had words with the speaker, giving them the customer's feedback on their style of communication in this instance, to help avoid it happening again, and you are sorry that this has left a poor taste in the mouth?

    1. Well, yes, obviously, but if they take the comments we did make as an accusation of lying, they will definitely take the comment that we did not actually accuse them of lying as an accusation that they are now lying :-) I was more pondering it as a sort of logic puzzle (in which things are binary)...

    2. You know how they are approaching this, but one of the problems of language and communicating is that one can entirely honestly hold an opinion about what was said, without the speaker ever meaning any such thing - you would not be accusing them of lying about the accusation of lying, but explaining that, having reviewed the evidence, even if they were left with that feeling (for which you apologise), it was not the intention of the speaker?