Our online responsibilities as consumers

I recently stumbled across a tweet that mentioned the failure of a top brand to call someone back after 6 days. This tweet was then retweeted by 3 other individuals, totaling a reach of 6660 Twitter users. The tweet read as follows “Been waiting for 6 days for FNB to get back to me to open my account. I think I’ll rather speak to Steve.” Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, I found it odd that this person felt the need to have a go at the brand as it appears that this individual was willing to wait 6 days for action and only then decided that enough was enough. At any time, this individual could have called FNB in order to open her account, but instead decided it was a great idea to let the “whole world” know her story.

What happened next can be described as a petty argument, but one I’m willing to stand by as a responsible online consumer. Although Walter Pike had some pretty good suggestions and comments regarding the situation, I still believe it’s our duty not to fly off the handle, throwing wild punches at Brands for small matters, especially if we land up retweeting sentiments that we have nothing to do with. Walter had absolutely nothing to do with this situation yet he thought it was necessary to spread the negative sentiment around for the reason, as he put it, to inform FNB that they need to pay attention to the individual who originally created the rant. Why didn’t Walter just tweet something along the lines of “Hey @rbjacobs, @thisperson needs your help”.

Walter mentioned that brands are not tarnished by what people say but rather by what they do. I disagree. Brands are tarnished by both what people say and what the brands do. Yes, it’s great to see a brand embrace negative comments and overcome them and that does have a ripple effect to those that witness the act, but what about those that just see the negative comments and land up not seeing how the brand reacted, for whatever reason.  There’s nothing wrong with brands being held accountable in a public forum but we as consumers need to be aware that there’s a difference between small grievances  over what could be genuine mistakes, versus more serious client service issues.



About the Author:

Nick is the owner of Code Cabin, founder of PingPong and co-founder of AirWeddings. He has an extensive history in programming and digital marketing and has worked on some of the largest online websites in South Africa. Nick shares his knowledge and insight on his personal blog, nickduncan.co.za.

NickDuncan – who has written posts on Nick Duncan.

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2 Responses to “Our online responsibilities as consumers”

  1. tallulahlucyNo Gravatar December 9, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    I think you mistake Walter’s intention. There are tweeters whose sole purpose in being on twitter seems to be to have a go at brands they don’t like – Telkom and Vodacom have a few of those, as does Exclusive Books. I agree that those people should find something better to do and not clog up the Internet with noise about human error. However, I really don’t think this is one of those cases. Part of the beauty of Twitter and of Twitter accounts like RBJacobs is that you can call their attention to issues. Not everyone knows the accounts exist, so sometimes you have to point them out, or point out trouble to them. I’ve done the same before and they were amazingly quick to respond. I think if customer service is good enough then the impact that those negative tweets has is negligible, particularly if it’s only one tweet retweeted a few times. 

  2. Walter PikeNo Gravatar December 9, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    I think that our duty as consumers is to draw to the attention of brands where they are falling short – as you can see in my retweet (I tagged on @RBJacobs <for you) I alerted @RBjacobs to the situation. @RBJacobs immediately took it up.

    What happened actually was that I gave @RBJacobs a perfect opportunity to serve a customer in a very public way. 

    In real life we all expect brands to make mistakes, making mistakes makes them real, fixing mistakes makes them fantastic.

    Legacy marketing thinking says defend the brand, hide negative stuff away – modern thinking let it all out there. If the brand is doing well then there will be far more positive comments than negative comments in fact the negative comments actually give the positive comments legitimacy.

    You can’t control the market, people are people and they will vent when they feel angry, its what you do with this dissatisfaction that counts.

    To close the loop on this I draw your attention to @RBjacobs comment to me “@walterpike Thanks for the comment! #FNB” the people behind @RBJacobs understand this.


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