In the “old days” (before the Internet) when a customer of a business got bad service, there wasn’t a whole lot they could do.

Sure, they could tell the story to a few friends, but that’s about it.

Bring on the Internet and social media and we have a whole different story.

Now, when people get inappropriate service, the entire world can find out in a few minutes.

Customers have enormous power thanks to social media.

Now the big question – why aren’t more businesses aware of this and why don’t they act accordingly?

Why are they willing to risk such bad publicity that can quickly do serious damage to their reputation, revenue and a whole lot more?

I don’t get it!

Last Thursday I called DirecTV because I received a promotion offering me their TV service for $19.95 per month for the first 12 months.

But, the deal required a 24 month contract.

I wanted to know the cost of their service during that second year. So I called them.

I got a representative on the phone and told her I had a very simple question – “How much does your service cost during the second year of this two year contract?”

Simple enough, right?

Apparently not, since the rep told me that she didn’t have that information at her finger tips. Rather, she’d have to “dig into” her computer to get it.

Was she telling me that the DirecTV phone reps couldn’t answer that basic question? Guess so!

She also told me that to get the information she’d need more information about me, such as my name, address, zip code, phone number, etc. (Hmm, wonder why they “need” all that information?)

So I made it all up. They can play a ridiculous game, so can I.

During this process I kept asking the rep why she needed this information and why she couldn’t simply tell me the cost for the second year.

By this time I’d been on the phone with this rep for 6-7 minutes, I’d guess. Then she hits me with the big one…

In order to answer my simple question, she would have to do a credit check on me!!!

That did it. I called a halt to this nonsense. I asked her very directly whether or not she was going to tell me the cost for the second year.

She put me on hold.

When she came back, she very abruptly said “It’s $72.99 per month. Have a blessed day!”.

I’m not one to be treated like that, so I got this rep’s supervisor on the phone. I ran down the entire episode for her and she very quickly also told me that the second year would cost $72.99.

So it appears someone does actually have the price at her fingertips.

I mentioned this ruckus to a friend of mine who said: “Why aren’t you using Hulu.com?”.

I had forgotten all about Hulu.com.

I immediately went to their website and found all the shows I want – and plenty more – all for free.

Why does anyone still pay for cable TV?

So, this whole DirecTV episode had a silver lining for me. DirecTV doesn’t get me as a customer and I get all the TV I want for free!

When you’re dealing with customers, inquiries, prospects, etc. always keep in mind that customers have never-before-experienced power thanks to social media.

Social media can be enormously helpful in building your business. It can just as easily put some major scars on your business plan.

That’s enough for today. I’m going to watch a few episodes of one of my favorite shows – Shark Tank – for free.

Next time I’m going to tell you about the solid publicity lessons you can learn just by watching Shark Tank.

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