BusinessWeek: "Consumers Are Fighting Back"

BusinessWeek’s cover story from their March 3rd issue, “Consumer Vigilantes,” looks at last year’s wave of stories about consumers who took matters into their own hands, either by smashing up a Comcast office with a hammer, starting a “Comcast must die” blog, or sending EECBs to unsuspecting executives. “Frustrated by the usual fix-it options–obediently waiting on hold with Bangalore, gamely chatting online with a scripted robot–more consumers are rebelling against company-prescribed service channels,” BusinessWeek writes. What we can’t figure out is how they got those three guys to actually pose with those goofy masks on—sometimes it’s okay to say no to the photographer.

One analyst is quoted as saying that just as consumers are getting fed up with false promises of “quality” service, companies are tightening return policies and policing fraud more stringently: “You’d have to go back a long way to see the kind of acrimony that you’re seeing now.”

The Internet is doing a lot to empower consumers who were formerly isolated, notes the article. They mention Dan Ortiz, who couldn’t get anything resolved with Comcast last fall:

Then the 26-year-old bike messenger logged on to The Consumerist, a blog with more than 2 million unique visitors a month that’s part of Gawker Media’s digital empire of snark. [<-- That’s why we made the snarky comment above about the masks. -Consumerist] There he found a consumer vigilante’s gold mine: a list of e-mail addresses for more than 75 Comcast executives and employees, along with instructions for launching what the blog calls its “executive e-mail carpet bomb.”

Ortiz got lucky. After firing off a note copying all those names the day before Thanksgiving, he quickly had an inbox full of out-of-office replies, complete with contact information containing direct numbers. He called a Chicago manager at home, who put his lead technician on the case. Ortiz says a swarm of eight trucks showed up on his block. “Once you get ahold of [executives], they bend over backward for you,” he says. He adds that Comcast sent him a tin of gourmet popcorn for Christmas and more than $700 in credits. Even better, he now has the mobile numbers for the lead technician in his area. “I’m not calling customer service ever again,” he says.

“Consumer Vigilantes” [BusinessWeek]
(Photo: BusinessWeek)