Flexing Angry Customer Internet Muscles

24 Sep 2017

Let me ask you a question, if I may.  If you won a contest and were about to get a product, ranging anywhere from $10-20 for free, would you complain about paying $3-4 for shipping?  Probably not, right?  Hello, the item is free!  In case you’re wondering, this is a real-world example of the type of things social media managers deal with on a regular basis; the phenomenon of flexing angry customer internet muscles.

People are going to complain; that’s human nature.  However, typically you walk out of a store and call the person to whom you are closest and vent your frustration to them.  Most people would never dream of cussing a store manager out, as it’s simply in bad taste.  The internet is an entirely different story.  I don’t know if people assume that there’s no one actually behind these stores that they’re lambasting all over Facebook, but sometimes there is.  It’s me!

In the past five years in this business, I’ve encountered a lot of internet bullies and it gets old sometimes.  People say things over the internet that no one says in real life, and we – the social media managers – are dealing with it. It just plain sucks.

Let’s do a little comparison: real life versus social media.  Recently, I ordered a new couch and big chair and was told my furniture would be delivered the following Monday.  The day finally arrived and the living room was cleared for landing.  When it arrived, I quickly found out that the company was trying to bring used furniture into my home, hoping I wouldn’t notice.  I did.

internet muscles

I phoned the company and explained the situation.  There were further exchanges between the delivery men and the store and it was eventually determined that the furniture would be removed from my house.  Was I angry?  Of course!  My vision turned red when I saw it.  Did I exhibit that anger to the manager?  Absolutely, but I was civil and composed.

Had it been an internet purchase, based on the customers we’ve encountered, I would’ve threatened to burn their store to the ground, called into question the integrity of their mothers, or demanded that unicorns fly to my home to bring me my refund.  However, I didn’t do any of this.  I could have, but I understood that it wouldn’t have helped my cause.

If you have a question about how well you’re handling things on the internet, ask yourself if you would say the same things aloud.  If the answer is no, then think twice.  If you don’t want to pay for installation on the FREE furnace you’ve won, then don’t enter the contest.  If you have a legitimate concern, address it with the company as a rational human being rather than going nuclear right away.

As my client, Lennie, says: Take my advice for what it is. It’s just as I see it.


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