Last week, a customer at Price Chopper in upstate New York tweeted a relatively mild insult about the store: “Every time I go to @PriceChopperNY I realize why they r not @wegmans. Tonight -bare produce areas & this sign 4 ex http://yfrog.com/2tfj9sj.” In return, Price Chopper contacted the man’s employer and complained about him.
A professor at Syracuse University started a Tumblr blog about the issue. He says the customer who was targeted was his friend, and that he therefore has
a first hand an account of what happened after his friend posted the tweet. He says someone at Price Chopper obtained the customer’s employer information and proceeded to contact people there. (To clarify, the professor says that the customer does not work for a company that has a business relationship with Price Chopper.)
Although Price Chopper did reply to the customer directly, they did not wait for a response before dragging the individual’s employer into the mix. In an email addressed to a seemingly random list of executives at the customer’s workplace, including the customer’s supervisor, Price Chopper labeled the individual as destructive and negative. They suggested that this individual’s distaste for their stores could jeopardize the relationship between Price Chopper and the company where the individual is employed, and they requested action be taken against the individual.
Once the Tumblr page went up, the director of Price Chopper’s PR department jumped on to comment, and said that they were reaching out to the customer to apologize for what happened. Then the rogue employee who targeted the customer left a public apology as well. It reads in part:
I took matters into my own hands. And though well-intentioned, I clearly went over the line – without the knowledge of our consumer insights people or my direct supervisor, the Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer and Marketing Services. I was trying to understand and engage a disgruntled customer and clearly lost sight of my goal.
I’m not sure how contacting someone’s employer and requesting disciplinary action–over a tweet posted from a private Twitter account, no less–can be considered “well-intentioned” by even the loosest definition, and from her apology I get the impression that this employee learned nothing except to be more subtle when she tries to punish a customer next time. But hey, at least her behavior was exposed.
And remember, if you want to shop at Price Chopper, make sure you use an anonymous Twitter account before you complain about their barren produce section or dumb store signage.