20/20 on viral videos: how consumers can get their complaints heard

October 14, 2006

News:  ABC’s John Stossel had an excellent report on 20/20 last night, discussing how home made videos posted on the Internet have greatly enhanced the ability of ordinary consumers to have their complaints heard.  Instead of getting ignored or frustrated with poor customer service at some company, consumers now can air their complaints through video.  And, sometimes, it works, when a video strikes a chord with millions of Internet users.  Just ask Comcast, AOL, HP, and even Apple!

Stossel was also careful to point out that some complaint videos may be totally off-base, made by some consumers who really have no legitimate complaint. 

Analysis:  We have already seen the power of these Internet videos in the political campaigns of 2006.  The consumer side empowerment discussed in the 20/20 report is another positive development from this emerging technology.  Any technology that gives more power to the people is a good thing, in my book.

Here are some of the videos discussed in the 20/20 report.  Apparently, all of the consumers who received less than satisfactory help in these videos eventually received a happy resolution to their problem.

Video 1: Comcast technician falls asleep waiting on hold with Comcast

Video 2: AOL customer service makes it difficult to cancel one’s account

Audio here.   NBC interview with video here.

Video 3: Apple customer service saying Apple doesn’t replace iPod batteries; go buy another iPod

Video here.

Video 4:  HP tells soldier in Iraq he needs to pay to have HP tell him how to fix printer