How To Use Twitter To Get A Company To Solve Your Problem

Here’s a new trick for getting satisfaction from a reluctant company, using Twitter. We can call this one “tweet to power.”

A reader IM’d me to say was able to get HP to fix his problem by making a new Twitter profile, hpdoesntcare, and then following every single HP-related profile he could find. Then he began tweeting every phone call he made to HP and tweeting every phone number he dialed. It worked, he said, and his final tweet was “Thanks HP. It is finally over. For real. :)”.

The IM came while I was away and the direct messaging isn’t enabled for his account so I couldn’t follow up and find out more info, like if he @replied or direct messaged some of the profiles to get their attention. Also, he deleted all the tweets except for the final one, I suppose some sort of gracious bury-the-hatchet gesture, so we can’t see the backstory.

In any event, a novel and potentially very effective tool to add to The Consumerist arsenal. Let’s recap:

1. Normal attempts to contact the company and seek resolution fail
2. Make new Twitter profile.
3. Follow every person on Twitter associated with the company that you can.
4. Tweet every phone call and every phone number. Put @thenameofsomeofthecompanypeopleyouarefollowing in some of your tweets.
5. Wait for someone to get embarrassed enough to reach out.

(Photo: frankieleon)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Trulymadlyme says:

    My sister had difficulty in getting Carmax to fix certain things in a car she bought for them (under warranty). She created a twitter account carmaxsux or something and the entire issue was put to rest in a single day. Insane, but true.

  2. BrianDaBrain says:

    I blame comcast! They’re the ones that started acknowledging the whole customers complaining on Twitter thing. Now everybody wants to do it and embarrass the companies that refuse to help them. How is that fair at all?

    • Damocles57 says:

      It’s fair because businesses spend millions of dollars on advertising spreading their propaganda to make the unaware believe the slanted things to buy the advertised products or services.

      A customer who accurately reports an issue he/she couldn’t resolve through normal channels has a right to communicate this experience to other current and potential customers. The company should be embarrassed if they allowed the issue to escalate to this level before resolving it.

      • BrianDaBrain says:

        @Damocles57: I should have included a /sarcasm apparently. I work in customer service and I constantly struggle against policies that are seemingly put into place to make things inconvenient for the customer. I support most measures that customers use to find resolution that doesn’t involve screaming and having hissy fits. This idea is awesome, and I hope it picks up steam.

  3. Meathamper says:

    What if the company still ignores you? There’s always that one company that doesn’t give a shit about customers in need.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @Bearded Rapper: Low budget tv commercials?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Bearded Rapper: Escalate in other ways, I guess. Twitter is like calling customer service, but much more public. And you have documentation if they treat you improperly.

      Btw, mods – awesome cat/bird photo combo. Thanks!

    • Skaperen says:

      @Bearded Rapper: Twitter can work when at least someone in the company has a clue and cares. Most problems with most companies are due to some combination (including all of one or all of the other) of computer programming errors/screwups and customer service reps that have no authority to really fix things or just don’t care. The difficulty is getting to the person that really cares and can fix it. But they can’t just direct all inbound calls to that person, because then they get bombarded for everything.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @Bearded Rapper: Hmmm, never really saw a definitive response from Amazon, which is ironic since #amazonfail is perhaps the most notable and first widespread occurrence of this avenue of complaint.

      A press release calling the issue a “glitch” a few days later, never posting any information on their website regarding it, and still to this day- a search for “homosexuality” returns “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality” as the first result?

      I haven’t spent a dime at amazon since, meanwhile received a new satisfied customer. amazonfail indeed!

    • H3ion says:

      @Bearded Rapper: BBB? Small Claims Court? Attorney General’s office? Your local newspaper’s consumer reporter? Local TV news consumer reporter? Local consumer protection agency?

      Heck, there a lots of ways to skin the cat (sorry, kitty) besides Twitter.

      • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

        @H3ion: I tried several of those and more while trying to correct a problem with HP due to their own moronic bureaucracy stumbling block. HP is a powerful Goliath, they pay BBB and they advertise with TV stations. The only way through for “David” to idiots like them is to cut them off at the knees by publicizing their crimes and abuses.

      • econobiker says:

        @H3ion: Then there is always the website avenue.

    • comcastcares says:

      @Bearded Rapper: Isn’t that what the Consumerist is for?

  4. Bigsky99 says:

    When Twitter fails, all these companies are going to look for the new big fad. Meanwhile, the REGULAR CUSTOMER SERVICE NUMBER THAT THESE COMPANIES SHOULD BE WORKING ON INSTEAD will still suck.

    How many comments by Frank Eliason today?

  5. PsiCop says:

    The hitch in this process, which I don’t understand, is: “… and then following every single HP-related profile he could find. Then he began tweeting …”

    Exactly how does following someone, make that person see your “twits” or whatever they’re called? Last I knew, they had to follow you, or call up your profile, in order to see your twits. Did that change? Does Twitter now deliver unrequested twits to people?

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @PsiCop: If you’re following somebody but they’re not following you, you have to reply to their statuses or just use the @name tag to send a tweet to them. That’s the only way for your messages to get to them, assuming they are not following you in return.

      It’s also plausible that they see “hp_sux_arse” in the list of people following them and click your profile to see what’s up.

    • vjmurphy says:

      @PsiCop: You do get notified if someone has started following you, so perhaps someone important took a look and noticed the other HP twits/tweeters the guy was following.

      But you are correct: just following someone doesn’t mean your tweets are getting anywhere.

  6. Adrienne Willis says:

    @Bearded Rapper: would the company still sign up for Twitter than if its last priority is their customers?

  7. Skaperen says:

    But the really big question is, how do you resolve being banned from twitter?

  8. TalKeaton: Every Puzzle Has an Answer! says:

    I actually got the Post Office to talk to me this way; I’d been calling/emailing with no avail for almost two weeks, I make a few Twitter posts about it (namedropping the specific post office location) and they call me half an hour later, more than willing to help me with my problem.

  9. mrmysterious says:

    AT&T was quick to resolve my issues when I tweeted their twitter account. I was super impressed.

  10. Mystii Glover says:

    Hmmm… not sure blaming Comcast is the right thing to do. It’s actually showing a higher level of customer support. They’ve helped me when I was unable to get an issue resolved and went way above and beyond what was needed. It sounds like many other here are also getting responses by contacting companies via twitter or tweeting about the problems.

    If a company refuses to acknowledge or resolve a customer service issue, then I think they should be embarrassed. If twitter is the way to do it, I believe we should. After all, we are a consumer oriented society – we should have companies that live up to their “customer first” standards.

    It sounds more to me like we should be giving kudos to Comcast instead of blaming them for starting something that is obviously working so well for consumers/customers!

  11. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    You people are making Frank at the Comcast Cares twitter cry. Seriously.

    Frank is just one man. He doesn’t have the power to change the entire Comcast CS structure. But what he does do, he works hard at it. And I give him props.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: Frank’s the man, and the only person I’ve ever talked to at comcast with the power to get things done. More companies need people like him.

  12. Josh Mayfield says:

    Personally, I’d much rather get boned by an uncaring company than use Twitter- but if it works for you, godspeed.

  13. halo969 says:

    This is exactly why I posted to Twitter about how much AMEX sucks. I think I shall do it again and again every day just for good measure.

  14. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    Wow, great idea. HP is up there with the absolute worst.

    I had a problem with HP a few years ago – something where I was trying like hell for them to take my money and ship a simple laptop. Thought they were just screwing up and losing the order, but later it turned out their crack “security” team was deliberately throwing out valid orders because they didn’t like that I was shipping to a physical address on file with my CC (UPS has a hell of a time getting a laptop into a PO Box used for billing). After waiting a month for them to ship me a computer I gave up and ordered from Dell, got it in a week.

    Filed with HP’s “Executive Resolution.” Nothing. Filed with BBB. Worse than nothing. Thank god I didn’t get that laptop, because the Dell has been running like a champ for 6 years now, and in my extensive tech experiences I’ve seen that HP’s computers seem to have sub par parts and failure rates way above the average.

    Bite my Tweet, HP. If people have to mount a friggin’ Tweety-bird campaign to get you to behave ethically, it seems you have only changed for the worse over this half decade.

  15. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    That cat’s going to eat the chicklet. Chicken is tasty tasty.

  16. Shaun Dakin says:

    I did this in the VA Governor primary 6.9.09 after receiving robo calls from all the primary candidates.

    I run @EndTheRoboCalls (twitter account for and Twittered the following to each candidate a week out.

    @EndTheRoboCalls: @Terry_McAuliffe – robo call me and you’ll lose any chance at my vote 6.9 – #robos #VAGOV

    I never received another robocall.

    Shaun Dakin

  17. Brandon Laroussini says:

    It truly works wonders! I tweeted two issues to @vaDOT (Virginia Dept. of Transportation) and they’re putting up a sign to address one issue. I’ll still fight them on the other. If I end up in an accident because of it it’s gonna be on them!

  18. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    Finally. A reason to use Twitter.

  19. catniplover says:

    Unfortunately this doesn’t work for all businesses. Check #etsyfail