Forget writing to Anne Robinson at Watchdog – social media has now evolved to allow disgruntled customers to dish out instant revenge against the big faceless corporations who are more than happy to take your money, but less than happy to help you when their service doesn’t deliver.
One of the most popular stories on the BBC News website yesterday afternoon was about a man who paid for a promoted tweet: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”
Businessman Hasan Syed was less than impressed at BA’s handling of the situation when his father’s luggage was lost on a trip from Chicago to Paris, so he has taken “consumer action” up a notch.
Promoted tweets are generally bought by advertisers who want to reach a wider audience. The paid-for tweet is given high prominence in the Twitter feed of the relevant company but otherwise acts as a normal message and can be retweeted by others.
Mr Syed purchased his paid-for tweet via Twitter’s self-service ad platform for an undisclosed sum. He targeted New York and UK markets with the tweet.
The result of this is that the story is now international news and a PR headache for BA. Effectively My Syed has orchestrated an anti-new business campaign for them with his cunning stunt.
However, this has got me thinking. What is to stop an undercover agent of Ryanair, for example, posing as a disgruntled customer of EasyJet and pulling a similar stunt? I would say somebody could try it against Ryanair, but Michael O’Leary would no doubt just tweet something back like “you shouldn’t have brought luggage on our plane #up yours”.
Could this be the shape of things to come? Wars of attrition by companies attempting to stop their competitors winning new business through social media genocide?
Watch this space…