3 Well-Known Companies That Went Viral For Their Customer Service Mistakes

3 Well-Known Companies That Went Viral For Their Customer Service Mistakes

Every once in a while, we come across a homemade video of a disgruntled individual ranting about an unpleasant experience with so-and-so brand in our news feeds. Indeed, social media has made it easier for customers to voice out their complaints publicly instead of dealing with the matter directly with the offending party. In a 2017 study conducted by social media management tool Sprout Social, results showed that 70% of consumers wouldn’t hesitate to call out brands on social media in an effort to warn other people.


We wrote about brands with exceptional customer service in an earlier blog post. This time, we’re putting the spotlight on the companies that gained notoriety for treating their customers poorly. Read and learn from their mistakes—unless you also want to go viral for all the wrong reasons.


Read: Companies with the best customer service practices


Verizon continued to charge a deceased man


On December 2009, Cynthia Lacy contacted Verizon to request to cancel her father’s account who passed away in June. The cell phone company refused, claiming that she would need to provide her father’s Personal Identification Number to proceed with the cancellation. Cynthia provided a copy of the death certificate as proof, to which the customer representative responded, “well, there’s nothing else I can do for you.”


The company continued to bill Cynthia until March 2010, when she finally reached out to Consumer’s Edge column of the St. Petersburg Times to air out her concerns. Verizon promptly apologized and refunded her payments.


Marriott rescues survivors from hurricane-stricken island, except the non-guests


In 2017, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Carribean that left thousands of tourists stranded. Marriott sent a ferry to the island of St. Thomas to rescue the helpless travelers stuck at the port—with a catch. Marriott only allowed its registered guests to board the ship, and left three dozen individuals behind because the CEO “didn’t want the liability”. According to one of the passengers who was denied entry, the boat can accommodate 1,800 passengers, but left with only 500.


United Airlines knocks a passenger unconscious after dragging him forcefully off his seat


In April 2017, the world was shocked when a video of a middle-aged man being violently dragged on a plane’s aisle circulated on social media. According to a statement by the airline company, the crew initially asked for volunteers to give up their seats, since four employees need to board the plane bound for Louisville, Kentucky. When no one offered, the airline randomly chose four people to be involuntarily de-boarded. The unfortunate victim was 69-year-old physician David Dao, who suffered from a concussion, a broken nose, and two missing teeth because of the incident. In videos taken by the passengers, he can be seen screaming with a bloodied nose, getting dragged by the arms and legs by three security officers.


United Airlines swiftly launched an internal investigation in an effort to save the company’s name in the ensuing PR nightmare, which resulted in the security officers being fired from their posts for mishandling an otherwise non-threatening situation.


The videos are still up on various news channels online, but we warn you, they’re very graphic and deeply unsettling.

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