PR Win: Company’s Zinger of a Reply to Angry Customer’s Facebook Rant Goes Viral

It’s so easy (and usually consequence-free) for a dissatisfied customer to hurl a sputtering rant at a company via social media, a few simple facts are often forgotten: 1. There are exceptions to the rule that the “customer is always right”; 2. There are often real human beings who run and monitor those social media pages and who are on the receiving end of such rants; 3. Said human beings have fingers, can type, and are fully capable of responding to tirades; And 4. A skewering review by a customer is not necessarily always bad PR for a company.

Take, for example, a recent Facebook interaction between a disgruntled customer and small Washington-based business Liberty Bottleworks — this back-and-forth took the stereotypical image of a soulless company stepping all over a little customer and flipped it on its head, proving that sometimes the customer is the bully, while the company is the one valiantly sticking up for the little guy (its employees) and good, old-fashioned values.

It all began when a customer left a raging message on Liberty Bottleworks’ Facebook page, claiming that the company botched her order and then failed to respond to her many attempts to contact customer service. Perhaps outsiders may have sympathized with the woman’s holiday shopping plight — that is, until they heard the other side of the story. In a lengthy, polite, but undeniably shaming reply, the company’s co-founder, Ryan Clark, described how the customer had actually been harassing his employees and ignoring Liberty’s attempts to reach her and remedy the situation.

Though the original post has been removed from the company’s Facebook page, a screenshot of Clark’s reply (below) was posted to Reddit last week, and has since gone viral, prompting a huge outpouring of support for the company’s “family first, product second” philosophy.

“Wow people, thank you again for the support – we are so thankful,” the business posted Thursday on Facebook. “We want to reiterate to you all, the call volume, and visitation to our website are massive right now—more than we’ve ever seen obviously.”

At this time of year, we always think about the superhuman patience so many in the retail industry manage to muster in the face of unyielding (and often unreasonable) customer demands, so it’s refreshing to see that, at least in this case, a COO can not only stand up for his employees and stand by his company’s values, but let off a little steam in the process, and still manage to earn the public’s respect and support.

So just remember, fellow holiday shoppers: if a company screws you over, by all means take to social media to warn fellow customers away from similar frustration, but just make sure you’re actually in the right — otherwise, we could be looking at a screenshot of your public shaming. Ah, the double edged sword.