Power of Social Media Can Make a Big Difference
The fast-moving world of technology affects not only new products, but also new ways of doing things that may or may not be beneficial to the average user.
A few weeks ago, I decided to run a contest for a free Epson printer. In following current trends, I ran the contest on Facebook and announced it in my newsletter and on my website. I was quite surprised to receive email from some followers who complained about having to "like" my Compu-KISS Facebook page to get a chance to win.
One gentleman even accused me of age discrimination because elderly people do not subscribe to social networks. While I disagreed with his premise, I opened the contest up to everyone with happy results. Recently I uncovered another Facebook controversy. I'll give you a little background first.
Earlier this month I reviewed a product called newKube, by Bluetree Electronics, which was dubbed as the "world's smallest MP3 player." My reviews are always truthful, giving my honest opinion of the product.
In this case, the on-off switch fell off the first time I used it. I found the controls difficult to use, and the documentation extremely lacking. Yet, I was amazed at the sound quality of this tiny 1-inch cube.
I couldn't recommend the newKube that I reviewed, but I suggested that with better materials, easier-to-use controls and better documentation, this could be a great product even if they had to charge a little more than the current price of $33.90.
While researching the product, I found that the newKube support page made this statement: "Only Facebook fans get warranty for their newKube player. Only fans enjoy a free one-year warranty for newKube." I was astounded.
Although I have seen hundreds of Facebook contests, I had never seen a company require a Facebook account and a Facebook "like" as a prerequisite for a warranty. I questioned the wisdom and legality of such a warranty restriction and asked for opinions on Facebook. This started quite a hailstorm with a wide variety of responses, including many differing legal opinions.
Sem Change, the president of Bluetree Electronics, and Mr. Kim, their PR representative, chimed in on my blog. I also received an email from Mr. Chang. It said: "It (your review) isn't very kind, but I can appreciate where you're coming from. We obviously know your profile may not suit us or our designs aren't suitable for you, but that's fine. We know we cannot please everyone. We respect your comments.
"As to the Fan page ... the mechanism stays. It is not per what you perceive here. We're not exchanging or forcing people to like us to in order get warranty, its just how FB's mechanism works. There's little for me to comment further. I do not wish to engage myself on this topic further, and neither do I wish to embroil into it."
Wow! I found the Facebook part a little strong. I put the story in my newsletter, and the power of public opinion made an impression on the Bluetree executives.
A few days later, Mr. Chang wrote on my blog, "We recognize our error and we've admitted it is ours and an oversight. We've made the amendment and made a statement of apology in our News page. We thank you for your help to identify, and we've corrected it. Thank you very much. We will strive to be better."
The post by Mr. Kim said, "Thanks for highlighting this. We do agree there is an error in the copywriting on the support page which did not highlight its original intention. We wanted to give our fans who join the newKube Fan Club an extra benefit - the additional six months warranty. We will be changing the text to ensure non-Fans that they get six months warranty and those who join the Fan Club gets an additional six months."
That deserves a double-wow! I checked their support page, and the old message had been replaced with a new one. It now says, "Facebook Fans enjoy free additional six months warranty for their newKube."
Mr. Kim also said, "This is a common practice where you register online or post your warranty card, consumers will get additional benefits." They still don't seem to understand that you can register a product online or mail a warranty card without having to join an additional entity like Facebook. Also, their new website statement just talks about the additional warranty and not about the six months that you get with the purchase of the product.
Yet, I am happy to have made progress. I don't think that forcing a purchaser to join Facebook to get a warranty or even an additional warranty is beneficial to the average user, but in this case, at least they tried to meet us halfway.
This goes to show that the power of the media plus people power can make a difference. We need to make sure that when new ways of doing things are introduced they are beneficial to the average user. If we all voice our opinions, they will listen.
Contact Sandy Berger at email@example.com.
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