As Consumers: We’ve Got the Power

I often get e-mails and feedback from people frustrated with bad service, high rates, or rip-off fees.

But you have to believe that you and me as customers really do have the ultimate power. We often feel there’s nothing we can do about fees, charges, interest rates, or really bad customer service. But that’s not true at all. You have total power to fire any company you choose, and that’s the best and ultimate power of all.

One of the most powerful stories, which is now being heard around the world, is of a Halifax musician. I can relate to this story and my personal horror stories with this company. It’s from a musician by the name of Dave Carroll.

Dave flew on a United Airlines flight out of Halifax. When he got his guitar from checked baggage, it was damaged. He filed a report, and did what he was told to do. But United told him: too bad – they were not covering the damage to his guitar.

Well, Dave wasn’t done – AND he’s a musician. He proceeded to actually write a song called: United breaks guitars. But get this: He posted his song on You Tube (here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo&feature=fvst ). So far, this video has been viewed more than FIVE MILLION TIMES.

At about two million views, United had a change of heart and contacted Dave to pay for a new guitar. Too late, Dave told them – it’s been two years, but did tell them they could donate the money to charity.

Another Canadian story is a web site on twitter where Canadians can vent their frustration at banks and their service, fees, or the likes, or just give others a heads-up on some bad practices. It’s been set up by ING Direct, the 7th largest company in the world, and a great alternative to the no-service banks, in addition to credit unions.

Sadly, ING takes out the specific bank, because they do not want to appear to be one bank knocking another. But all the information is there, ranging from a petition to venting and a number of polls. You can access it at: www.fairfees.ca

The Financial Times of London did an extensive survey asking who we actually trust. And for 92% of us it’s word of mouth from friends, associates, or colleagues. That compares to around 60% for traditional advertising.

The lesson is that a companies’ image is not what they it is, but what real people experience in the real world and spread through word of mouth.

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