Monday, 28 December 2009

Ten angry customer-created sites & campaigns

We've all experienced bad customer service, a sales person that promises the earth but fails to deliver or the irritation of irrelevant marketing spam. Some people ignore bad customer experiences, others switch their business to another provider, others go on a crusade to name, shame and pro-actively share their negative experiences with others. The latter can have a hugely negative lifetime value to an organisation, in some cases even bringing the share price down.  This post is dedicated to those customer revolutionaries whose personal campaigns have had a tangible impact on their targets. Here are 10 examples of angry customer-created sites and campaigns:

1. United Breaks Guitars - incensed at seeing his guitar thrown around by a baggage handler on a United Airlines flight, and enraged by the company's denial of responsibility, musician Dave Carroll got his revenge by releasing a video trilogy on Youtube. "United Song 1" got 3.2 million views and 14,000 comments in just 10 days! A PR disaster that took 10% off United's share price.
2. United package was set up by Keith Kimmel after he received wet, broken and delayed packages from UPS. Other customers followed suit and uploaded their own photos of broken packages. Some UPS employees even submitted photos from delivery vans and depots showing piles of broken parcels. At the point of writing the site seems to have been taken down but some of the photos are here.
3. Rage Against the Machine for Christmas #1 - over 550,000 people joined the Facebook campaign to keep X-Factor winner Joe McElderry off the Christmas number one spot!
4. The BT Guy - Patrick Askins from Warwick found national fame on the BBC national news after his video complaint about British Telecom was watched by 20,000 people on YouTube.
5. Marks & Spencer's storm in a D-cup - Beckie Williams started a Twitterstorm against M&S in protest at their "unfair" practice of charging an extra £2 on bras above a DD cup. Her Facebook Group Busts 4 Justice currently has 18,000 members and forced a "one price for all" policy across the M&S range.
6. HSBC's great graduate rip off - thousands of students rallied on Facebook to successfully force a change in HSBC's policy on student loan fees.
7. Dell Hell - Jeff Jarvis' "Dell Lies; Dell Sucks" blog post was read by thousands of people who had experienced similar quality problems with Dell products and similar frustration with their customer service. Dell eventually embraced the feedback and now has one of most forward-looking Social Media approaches.
8. - these sites were set up by angry Chase Bank customers offering a forum for other customer to share their stories about  bad customer service, fraud rumours, incorrect charges etc. Both have or are facing legal action from JP Morgan Chase.
9. The Motrim Moms - Twitter user Jessica Gottlieb caused a Twitter Storm against an ad campaign by Motrin.  Mashable has a good review of the Motrin Moms campaign.
10. The Apple Time Capsule Memorial Register  - this site offers a forum for Apple customers to mourn the death of their time capsules. The site currently reports that the average life span for an Apple Time Capsule is 18 months and 30 days.

Please note that I make no comment on the individual companies mentioned above, I am more interested in the campaigns that customers have launched against them.

Of course there are many other examples . If you know of any great case studies please let me know or add them to this Pearltree!

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The Customer Revolution Blog by Laurence Buchanan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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