A customer whose father’s luggage was lost by British Airways has taken the novel approach of paying for a promoted tweet to voice his discontent.
Businessman Hasan Syed decided to take the very public approach to complaining after claiming that BA’s handling of his father’s lost luggage – which occurred before or after travelling between Chicago and Paris at the weekend – was unacceptable.
The disgruntled customer decided to use Twitter’s self-service ad platform to pay for a promoted Tweet for $1,000, then targeted it at current and potential BA customers, mainly in the UK and US.
The tweet – which read “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.” – quickly went viral, receiving nearly 80,000 impressions and was picked up by the website Mashable, which shared it with thousands of followers.
By the time it was seen by BA’s official Twitter account four hours later, it had been read and commented on by thousands of people.
BA’s response stated: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM [direct message] your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”
The response to Mr Syed’s course of action was a combination of admiration and predictions about what it may mean for big companies who fail to deal with customer complaints adequately.
Marty St George, senior vice-president of marketing and commercial at JetBlue Airways, tweeted: “Interesting; a disgruntled customer is buying a promoted tweet slamming a brand where they had a bad experience. That’s a new trend itself!”
Meanwhile, Shashank Nigam, chief executive of aviation consultancy SimpliFlying, said that the implications are “tremendous” for the future of airline customer service, particularly on social media.
He told the BBC: “These tools are easy to use and brand detractors have the same access to them as corporations. I’d guess that this cost less than a thousand dollars to buy and Mr Syed targeted it smartly.”
British Airways has since apologised to the customer for the inconvenience caused, with the bag now returned to Mr Syed’s father.
Despite a final spend of $1,000, Mr Syed took to Twitter to announce his victory: “I got what I wanted. I win.”
Do you agree? Does social media make corporations more accountable to customers? And was it worth paying $1,000 to make the point Mr Syed did or would travel insurance have sufficed?
Have your say below.