As consumers, we now have a few venues to take out our frustrations with a company. We can tweet a complaint, to all our friends and directly to a company if we want. We can write on their Facebook wall, or reply to their latest newsletter. And of course, there are the traditional venues: writing a letter to the editor, calling customer service, or simply walking into the establishment and having an actual conversation.
Recently I’ve heard of a few ways people are financially ‘sticking it’ to companies in addition to or sometimes in place of complaining verbally.
My friend Nick sent me this link, which tells people how to mail heavy objects on the offending company’s dime in response to junk mail. In short, you tape a ‘no postage necessary if mailed in the United States’ envelope to the outside of a package filled with, say, bricks or something else heavy. Upon delivery, the company pays the postage. The website explains this is perfectly legal and the only way we will stop receiving junk mail.
Another person I ran into told me about his friend who Googles expensive keywords (I guess ‘pay day loans’ is one) and then clicks on the sponsored links of companies he doesn’t agree with, chuckling that he costs a sketchy business profiting off someone’s desperation for cash $10 for his click. (I tried to find a link for this idea but my brain doesn’t seem to be working well today.- If you have one, let me know and I’ll add it to here, and give you credit of course.)
In other words, we’ve gone from communicating to action, only some of these actions are costing the company we disagree with money.
While I do have a thing for great customer service and treating people well, I have a problem being outright mean. But are these practices mean, or sending that company a message that they don’t seem to be hearing verbally? Do people feel increasingly desperate in this economy and use these tactics to get some control back they feel they’ve lost? Am I too uptight?
So I’d love to know: Heard of other ways people are making companies financially pay for bad behavior? Do you think these practices are ethical?