Are we witnessing the beginning of two-tier customer service?

This week a story broke covering how disgruntled British Airways customer Hasan Syed (@HVSVN) bought a promoted Tweet to complain about BA customer service.

British Airways: disgruntled customer Hasan Syed paid for a Promoted Tweet
British Airways: disgruntled customer Hasan Syed paid for a Promoted Tweet

This appears to be a world first and has been met with a host of comments that largely applaud the decision and it’s significance for democratised media.

But does this really represent a step forward in democratisation of media? Doesn’t access to the most effective broadcast methods remain a privilege for those with the necessary funding?

A highly effective way to be seen (the story has attracted a shed load of media coverage pushing reach above and beyond the promoted tweet reach) this is by no means a cheap way to complain.

At the time of writing, Syed had not revealed how much he has spent on the promotion, however on a CPE (cost per engagement) basis he will likely pay anywhere between 5 cents and $5 per engagement (that’s every single RT, favourite or click!)

Do we want a two-tier system where customers with money to spend can light a larger fire than those who don’t?

BA have since apologised to Syed, reminding him that they are only open from 9am-5pm and requesting they DM them his details (whether or not that’s right is for discussion another time) and so their response so far does not seem to be disproportionate in comparison to regular complaints.

However that’s not to say that other brands would respond in the same way.  You can easily see why a promoted Tweet from a disgruntled customer would send the community managers scrambling to the battle lines faster than a triple shot espresso.

This may well indicate the deepening democratisation of media, but how do we feel about the emergence of a system where some voices have the resources to shout louder than others?

Olly Honess is an account manager for @cubaka

The article was first published

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