Years ago, if customers received shoddy service or goods, all we could do was send an irate letter to the customer services department, or moan to our friends over a pint at our local. These days however, with the rise of social media and the immediacy of posts and tweets reaching fellow customers, should the big companies be a little more wary if they get things wrong?
Take the example of businessman Hasan Syed who was getting fed up with the way British Airways was handling his father’s lost luggage. Syed decided to buy a ‘promoted tweet’ in order to complain about the company. A promoted tweet is one that is given a very high prominence with the twitter feed, and therefore reaches a much higher audience. They are usually bought by advertisers but Mr Syed bought one and posted up: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”
It is thought that Mr Syed paid around £1,000 for the tweet, which was promptly re-tweeted around the world, for a good 6 hours until a representative of British Airways saw it and was able to comment on it.
The tweet was picked up by a news website Mashable and read by millions of Twitter users, who re-tweeted the message and commented on it themselves. Mr Syed was not happy with the way British Airways were dealing with losing his fathers luggage on a trip from Chicago to Paris at the weekend, and decided to take on airline to vent his frustration.
When British Airways finally noticed the tweet, they replied: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM [direct message] your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”
This is not the only case of members of the public using modern technology to fight back against the large organizations. In fact, another businessman, 25 year old Lee Beaumont was so fed up with receiving cold callers on the telephone, that he set up his very own premium phone line number, so that when the callers rang him, they were charged a premium rate, and he was pocketing the money.
Mr Beaumont said that he was inundated with cold callers, especially from salesmen offering PPI compensation, so he decided to make some money from them, and paid £10 plus VAT to set up his own premium line, and every time they called him, he was making money, He has since made around £300 since the line went live.
As for Mr Syed, his tweet appears to have had the desired effect, as BA contacted him with this message: “We would like to apologise to the customer for the inconvenience caused. We have been in contact with the customer and the bag is due to be delivered today.”
So it does appear that complaining in a digital age is much more effective than simply writing a letter or calling from a phone. We suggest using social media, such as Facebook, or Twitter, but remember that when you are complaining, you cannot say anything that is untrue or slanderous, or you might be heading for the courts, and not a resolution.