Sensitive to it
July 8th, 2006

This Washington Post article says “Disgruntled customers used to have little recourse against poor service and broken promises.But as angry clients increasingly turn to the Internet to settle scores, companies, independent retailers and everyday wrongdoers are learning that consumers can have the last word — and often the last laugh. The Web has turned into a place where shame and humiliation are sometimes the strongest weapons in fighting scams and unfairness.
AOL got burned last week, for example, when an exasperated customer recorded and broadcast online a service representative’s emphatic reluctance to cancel his service. Comcast Corp. fired a technician after a videotape surfaced purporting to show him asleep on a customer’s couch. The clip became popular on Web sites such as amateur video site YouTube. People are also using the Internet to retaliate against common thieves and discourtesies. A popular blog on Friday posted voice mails from a man demanding that his date pay him back for half the dinner check after the romance fizzled. In June, a New York man posted pictures online of a girl who allegedly refused to return his friend’s T-Mobile Sidekick that had been taken from a taxicab. The Web site became popular among other victims of cellphone theft, and it led to the girl’s arrest. And there also was the South Korean woman who was humiliated last year when she didn’t clean up the mess her dog left in the subway after a fellow train rider posted a photo of the incident on a popular Web site.
“There’s no question that publicly shaming someone, whether it is a politician or a company, is the best way not only to get their attention but to change their behavior,” said Jeff Chester, executive director for the District-based consumer-advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy. “People are going to be very sensitive to it.”

Angry Customers Use Web to Shame Firms


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