When it comes to customer/retailer disputes, the customer isn’t always right. Unfortunately, often times he is, after the sale, when consumers have almost no leverage.
Maybe that’s why I’ve become hooked on reading consumerist.com. It’s a guilty pleasure, like reading about Paris Hilton or sneaking a candy bar from the bag left over from Halloween (you think this is a surprise to anyone in the Fox house?).
I am often amazed by the reported (not verified) outlandishly bad behavior of America’s big merchants. And believe me, some of this is pretty mean.
On the other hand, I also see consumer weasels trying to game the system and then getting upset when they don’t succeed. Reading their letters of complaint makes my blood boil. Consumerist often treats them as legitimate complainers, though I wouldn’t.
Business weasels seem to outnumber consumer weasels. Again, remember where the leverage is after the sale.
I am curious how big business looks at sites like this? All of a sudden, the Internet has made one person’s word-of-mouth louder and opened up publishing to nearly anyone. Bad customer experiences trying to cancel AOL’s service, get a cable TV problem fixed, or expose customer neglect by airlines have been well documented with pictures and sound.
Do big businesses weigh the cost of this bad publicity and if so, how much weight is given to sites like this? Is someone from Cingular or Home Depot or any one of the sites often mentioned reading Consumerist as part of their job?
I can tell you from experience, no official has ever responded when I’ve written about a product or service I was dissatisfied with – but this blog gets minimal traffic.
‘Buzz’ has created today’s celebrities. It’s also responsible for web hits like YouTube, Craigslist and MySpace, which seemingly grew without organized promotion (at best with minimal promotion). Can buzz injure established brick and mortar companies too?
Read at your own peril. The site is addictive.