To Give Real Service You Must Add Something — Sincerity and Integrity

Douglas Adams? Donald A. Adams? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A popular business adage states that providing real service to a customer requires a crucial added ingredient known as sincerity and integrity. This notion has confusingly been credited to two different people: Douglas Adams and Donald A. Adams.

The first was a science fiction humorist who wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The second was a lawyer and educator who taught business law. Would you please help me to determine the correct ascription?

Quote Investigator: In August 1926 “The Rotarian” magazine published an address delivered by Donald A. Adams who was the President of Rotary International, a voluntary nonprofit service organization. The speech included a passage about providing genuine service. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

We should all put into practice the Golden Rule of dealing with the other fellow as we would like to have him deal with us. But Service is something more than selling goods which are all wool and a yard wide and making delivery according to the contract. To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money and that thing is sincerity and integrity.

Douglas Adams was born many years later in 1952. The attribution shifted to hm by 2002. Perhaps an ambiguous designation such as “D. Adams” led someone to incorrectly change the attribution of this adage from the lesser-known Donald A. Adams to the well-known Douglas Adams.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1926 August, The Rotarian, Volume 29, Number 2, Rotary’s Ideal of Service: Convention Address of the President by Donald A. Adams, Start Page 8, Quote Page 60, Column 3, Published by Rotary International, Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link