The Customer Service Battle and Facebook

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Regardless or not if a school district has entered the new social networking medium, school districts and companies alike should be wary of the effect sites like Facebook and Twitter can have on their bottom line. Take a recent example of what one 21-year-old college student is doing to a tow truck company.

ABC News online posted a story today on how the disgruntled student has turned the company, T&J Towing in Kalamazoo, Mich., on its ear. Justin Kurtz started his page after T&J towed his car from his apartment parking lot, allegedly because he didn’t have the proper permit. But Kurtz said his permit, which came with his lease, was removed from his car so that the company could receive $118 in revenue for the impound.

The Facebook page now has 12,000 followers, many of who have posted similar horror stories on their dealings with T&J, which the company said has resulted in losing about a dozen clients and revenue of about $750,000. The towing company denies Kurtz’ claim and has responded with a lawsuit to recoup its lost income and to force Kurtz to cease and desist from making what it calls “further libelous and slanderous claims.”

Regardless of the fact that the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan gives T&J Towing an “F” rating for not responding to consumer complaints, the situation shows that, in today’s day and age, anything from ongoing poor customer service to a lone ranger with a personal vendetta — a student or a parent with a grudge, perhaps? — can make life very difficult for companies and organizations.

The article points out that the instant communication fostered by social networking sites allows negative PR to spread like wildfire, not matter how accurate or not.