This year, several companies weathered massive, almost instantaneous, backlash from consumers. People took to Twitter, Facebook and discussion threads far and wide to express their dissatisfaction with services and products.
Some asked for compensation. Others declared permanent boycotts of the offending brand. Whether deserved or not, here are what we consider the top five social media consumer backlashes of 2011.
1) BlackBerry Messenger outage
RIM's BlackBerry email, internet browsing and Messenger service went offline in mid-October, starting in Europe but spreading within days to the Mideast, Africa and North America and Latin America. In a CBCNews.ca poll, more than 10,000 respondents said they were experiencing service outages.
Users reacted with vitriol on Twitter, even after BlackBerry's services were restored about a week later.
Dear Blackberry, first of all...u should know that I'm typing this with my middle finger... Sincerely, angry customers.-- Carmen Castillo(@carmi_castillo) October 12, 2011
So if you have a Blackberry, right now you're looking for a payphone so you can preorder an iPhone 4S. Basically.-- Andrew Snowdon (@snobiwan) October 12, 2011
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis publicly apologized for the outage, and the company offered 12 free app downloads from the BlackBerry App World service.
2) Coca-Cola's white holiday cans panned by fans
Coca-Cola released a special white and silver design for its cans late in the year for holiday season. The design was meant to raise awareness about the plight of polar bears, in whose survival Coke has taken a corporate interest.
The only problem? The cans' similarity to the silver Diet Coke design fooled many diehard Diet Coke drinkers. Coke fans were shaken by the change, and took to the internet to complain.
My world has been officially turned upside down by these confusing white Coke cans.-- Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) December2, 2011
Just drank a regular Coke thinking it was a Diet Coke. #whitecokecans-- Leon Bellsprout (@LeonBellsprout) December1, 2011
The company responded with a redesigned holiday can with a traditional red background supplanting the white.
3) Sony's PlayStation Network hacked
In April, hackers broke into Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN), disabling the videogame online services for over a month. Account information for more than 75 million users was accessed, possibly including peoples' usernames, email addresses, and credit card information.
Users vented online, questioning why Sony had withheld the breach from its customers until several days later. Many threatened to close their PSN accounts and move to Sony's major videogame competitor, Microsoft's Xbox 360.
When service was finally restored, Sony offered free games and online security services to PSN members. Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, offered a public apology at the beginning of its press conference at the E3 videogame convention.
4) Kenneth Cole's Egypt tweet
At the height of the protests in Egypt's Tahrir Square, fashion designer Kenneth Cole tweeted "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumour is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC."
Backlash towards Cole on Twitter - the very same social network that helped organize many of the protests in Egypt - was immediate and ruthless. Respondents called it insensitive and "wildly inappropriate," with many proclaiming they would never shop at the brand again.
An hour later, Cole replied:
Re Egypt tweet: we weren'tintending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment -KC-- Kenneth Cole (@KennethCole) February3, 2011
5) FedEx courier caught on video tossing monitor
A video of a FedEx courier tossing a computer monitor over a two-metre fence was posted on YouTube on Dec. 19. In days, the video had been watched millions of times.
The video made it to blogs like The Consumerist, and programs including Good Morning America, CNN News and the Late Show with David Letterman.
FedEx responded Wednesday with a YouTube video of its own and a blog post saying that the courier's behaviour was "absolutely, positively unacceptable." Users online, who fumed at the original story, praised FedEx for the speed and manner of its response.
Perhaps This FedEx Delivery Man Is Preparing For A Monitor-Throwing Contest bit.ly/sxBYJL-- consumerist (@consumerist) December 20, 2011
More entries for category: Science & Technology
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