The Awesome Power of Social Media

Today I read this article on about a musician who traveled with his guitar. He did everything he could to get Delta to let him bring his classic 1965 Gibson ES-335 on board his flight from Buffalo to Detroit — going so far as to offer to buy the guitar its own seat. The guitar was worth over $10,000. The airline refused to let him carry it on and made him check it.

Sure enough, the airline wrecked the guitar completely. The costs of repair were estimated to be almost $2,000. And of course, the guitar would never again have its pre-damage value.

Then Delta tried to get off cheap and offered the passenger $1,000 – which he refused. Even several letters to the president of the company remained unanswered. Then a call came from Yahoo news. Delta started playing ball.

I had a similar experience last year when I had an adverse outcome with the Avis car rental company in Germany. I was charged over 1,000 Euros for repair of a “scratch” I could not see and did not make. All normal channels, through credit card companies, insurance companies and Avis “customer support” got me nowhere.

Then I started blogging about the incident, publishing to Twitter and Facebook, accompanied by a letter to the CEO of Avis. Possibly due to my standing with Avis as a very frequent, long-term customer, but certainly partly due to my persistent social media campaign publishing the lack of cooperation by Avis, the company offered to absorb all costs of the “repair” within about five days of my writing to the CEO.

I put the record straight in my blog after Avis came through, and I have been a returning customer since.

Today, we have a powerful megaphone with the Internet and the various social media outlets. In the past, if you were wronged by a large corporation, you could never have fought back. Now, a few appropriate blog posts and relentless distribution can get a buzz going very quickly, one that companies as large as Delta or Avis can only ignore at their peril.

This is one of the most powerful effects of social media.

Do you have any stories like that to share?

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