Social media is a powerful thing. Sure, it is great for chatting with your buddies and seeing vacation photos from your parents cruise but the real power and value to consumers is the ability to easily and quickly correspond with business.
Over the years I have had many emails go unanswered, but when asking questions or seeking assistance, Twitter and Facebook can offer a very quick turnaround. Making a complaint publically seems to achieve faster and better results.
I will use my latest experience with Marin Bikes as an example.
In 2010 I bought a Marin Alpine Trail hardtail mountain bike. A lower entry-level bike, but it was perfect for my needs.
Aside from maintenance issues and a few small broken parts here and there the bike gave me no trouble, until a month or so ago. While riding in a straight line on a paved road the frame snapped. I took the bike back to retailer where I bought it and they proceeded to contact Marin. I am very easy on my bike. I stick mostly to the road and groomed trails. I never jump it or do anything crazy, so a broken frame was baffling to me, but surely something the warranty would cover.
A few days later I was told that the bike only had a 5 year warranty on the frame. Marin would not honor it.
Seriously? A quick check to their website shows most bikes have life time warranties (including the newer version of mine).
Now I could take some money I don’t have, buy a new bike, and put all this behind me. But the more I thought about it, the more angry I became, so I did what any internet savvy person would (or maybe should) do. I took to Social Media.
I started with a simple tweet, and a post to Marin’s Facebook Wall.
This was the type of response I expected. So I explained myself a little further and got a response soon after:
Fantastic! The conversation continued:
Honestly this sounds like BS to me, but I could be wrong, maybe it was in fact a simple clerical error. I am pretty certain it is their way of putting out a small brush fire before it becomes a much larger forest fire. Regardless, I am not about to argue and jeopardize my victory.
I will never know for certain if Marin’s efforts in making this situation right is the result of them simply wanting to do the right thing, or if it is just part of their reputation management – or both. I’ll never know if this was actually the result of a clerical error, or if they had reversed their position at the threat of bad publicity. I also don’t know if my public complaint would have fully gone viral or not, but had they not stepped up I sure would have tried.
One thing I do know for certain is had I not taken to social media my bike would not have been fixed and I would have shelling out some cash for a new bike. I am grateful that Marin made things right, but I must say it still doesn’t sit well that I had to go to such lengths in order for them to honor a warranty that they put in place. On the flip side, at least Social Media works and I have a new bike!