The Internet has proven a formidable foe for major corporations. Bank of America is just the latest corporation to backtrack on a business decision following customer outrage.
Netflix canned plans to spin-off its DVD branch and rename it Qwikster after customers balked at the notion. GAP quickly backtracked on a logo redesign when fans of the old logo bombarded the clothing company’s Facebook page. Urban Outfitters and JC Penney have both pulled clothing lines after customers charged the company with sexism and racism in the public court of online conversation.
When the Bank of America fee plan was announced in September, more than 300,000 customers signed a Change.org petition calling for its end. A Facebook page was started dubbing this coming Saturday “Bank Transfer Day,” encouraging customers to shift to credit unions. And as recently as last week, when other major banks canceled plans to charge such fees, Bank of America said it would stand by its decision.
But in the face of mounting pressure, the company caved. It took only about a month of protest for the bank to change its tune.
Even with the infamous New Coke debacle, which public relations firms still call one of the largest marketing failures of all time, it took three months for the company to declare failure.
Social media sites play a role in pushing consumer’s anger forward, but so do online petition sites like Change.org.
Thanks to many online options for customers to vent out loud, companies get an early warning of marketing fiascoes — and so do their shareholders. Netflix and Bank of America shares both dropped following the bad press after consumers unleashed their fury.