It’s not easy to apologise, and most people would like to avoid it entirely if possible. Well, it turns out it is possible, if you happen to live in Japan. They have these ‘apology agencies’ through which you could simply pay someone to say sorry on your behalf.
I can see why these businesses are so successful – it’s really tough to face the person you’ve wronged and tell them that you’re sorry. It’s a highly uncomfortable situation, especially if you’ve made someone angry or hurt their feelings.
By hiring an expert, not only do you get to avoid the discomfort, you also make sure that the person gets a proper apology. These agencies train their employees to handle things based on the gravity of the situation. These people are professionals, and it looks like they can get you out of all sorts of sticky situations.
For example, they may send a person pretending to be your parent or friend to break up with a clingy lover. Or they may call your workplace pretending to be your wife and tell them you’re sick, on those days when you’d rather not go into to work.
Of course, it doesn’t take away from the fact that these services are based on deception. Nothing can match a face-to-face, personal apology, no matter how badly you mess up. Apology agencies have come up against severe criticism because they allow people to skate around an essential human experience.
Nevertheless, these businesses are doing pretty well for themselves. About 40 percent of their customer base is believed to be female, between the ages of 20 and 40 years. Some of the most popular reasons for approaching apology agencies are problems with money or love.
Prices vary depending on the nature of apology required. The Shazaiya Aiga Pro Agency charges 25,000 yen ($240) for a face-to-face apology, and 10,000 yen ($96) for an email or phone apology. Nihon Shazai Daikokao, on the other hand, charges 3,500 yen ($33) per hour.
A few agencies like Yokohama Benriya Natchan prefer not to reveal their prices – estimates are provided by phone consultation and they even offer ‘apologies while crying’ services for particularly angry people.
Would you pay someone to do your apologizing for you?