HOW NOT TO WIELD YOUR CONSUMER RIGHTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
SJOE, social media is a pressure cooker of emotions these days! Look closely enough at any comment thread of a decent length and you are bound to come across some sort of tussle. While we have to admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude (enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others) (aka sitting back with some popcorn to see what happens next), we’ve also noticed a worrying trend – consumers are voicing their grievances with businesses in a way that is meant to hurt their bottom-line.
Here’s a quick breakdown of our thoughts on airing grievances towards businesses on a public forum:
YES, YOU HAVE RIGHTS & YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE THEM.
South Africa has one of the most progressive Consumer Protection Acts in the world. Yay us! Instead of getting upset with a business owner online, why not approach them directly about it first. The odds are that they will sort out the situation immediately. If they don’t, the National Consumer Commission is there to handle any and all complaints you may have regarding service or goods you received from any registered business. Or you could approach the ombudsman for the relevant industry to assist you to escalate your complaint. These routes are your best bet if you want to get a satisfying solution for your problem.
ONLINE VENTING IS GRATIFYING BECAUSE YOU’RE REMOVED FROM THE OBJECT OF YOUR RANT.
It can be gratifying to rant about bad service or poor-quality goods online – we get that. Something irked you and you need to get it off your chest. According to Psychology Today, there are a few reasons why people feel comfortable to attack businesses and other individuals online. “The online disinhibition effect suggests that anonymity may drive more deviant behaviour, because it is easy to avoid consequences.” There is also a perceived lack of consequences. In person-to-person social exchanges, we analyse the costs and benefits of our communication; online anonymity (although it might only be perceived) suggests you won’t be held personally responsible, which leads to the belief that the benefits of expressing oneself outweigh any costs.
INTERNET SHAMING CAN LAND YOU IN JAIL [Yip – Here’s the kicker!].
Does anyone recall Penny Sparrow and her racist rant that nearly blew up the internet? She was prosecuted folks (after losing her job). Sure, the sentence wasn’t all that harsh, but she was still held accountable for what she said online.
Internet shaming, whether directed at a person or a business, can fully land you in jail. Depending on the severity of how you express yourself, you could be tried for crimen injuria, or ‘wilful injury to someone’s dignity, caused by the use of obscene or offensive language or gestures’.
At Lime Juice Communication, we’re serious about Online Reputation Management (ORM). Safeguard your business against reputational risk by having a system in place to monitor any mentions of your company across social channels AND the rest of the world wide web.
There will always be someone with a bone to pick, but if you pick up on the grievance early enough, you can contain the potential damage by addressing it immediately. Get in touch so we can discuss your requirements and explain how we can assist your business by being your eyes and ears out there.