Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Almost to the Point of Irritation

Complaint Department
Originally uploaded by Jeff Henshaw
"Gentleman:--Someday you are going to move me almost to the point of irritation with your God-damned chuckle headed fashion of turning off your God-damned gas without giving notice to your God-damned parishioners--and you did it again last night..."

That's how Mark Twain began a letter to the Hartford Gas and Electric Company. If he were writing today he might vent his anger on the web. Bob Garfield (the host of NPR's On The Media) has a terrific article in Advertising Age ( for the WWU community, not free to the public) about the blog he started, ComCast Must Die! and about other websites that express consumer rage. As a complainer named Jeff Jarvis says: "If you go online and type in your search engine '[any brand] sucks,' you will find the real Consumer Reports." Ben Popkin, who runs The Consumerist, says: "The determinant of who gets heard is not who has the most media dollars but who has the most interesting things to say."

It is a good example of how the Web is changing the way corporations have to do business. Garfield calls it Listenomics, and he is (of course) writing a book on it.

WARNING: As might be expected, some of the complainers use bad language.