The power of the internet savvy consumer

customers.jpg I’m going to come right out and say upfront that I’ve had a terrible experience with appliance vendor Warners’ Stellian. How much will this simple sentence affect you, the reader of this article, when it’s your turn to be in the market for a new major appliance?

Will you remember my statement of “Do not, do NOT buy an appliance from Warner’s Stellian because, should your unit break down, you stand a good chance of going weeks before getting it repaired, getting less than stellar treatment by their customer service reps, and ignored by the sales person you bought the unit from, even if you’ve purchased their extended warranty”?

And if you’re not moved yet, will you be influenced by the negative review that will be published on Thursday? Will my explanation of my outrage be enough to influence your potential purchase?

I don’t have a huge audience, this blog isn’t read by more than a few hundred people each month, and I know the majority of them personally. But that’s a few hundred people that I have a degree of influence over. And if I convinced even a small percentage of them not to shop at their store, that’s a potential loss of at least a few thousand dollars.

Now, what if I wrote the article so well, that some of few hundred people were compelled to share it with their friends and family? How many hundreds of people could that be? What if the article was picked up by a social news site like digg.com or what if I started a group on facebook that became popular? What if the article was submitted to consumer review sites?

Was the expense of expediting the replacement of parts in my refrigerator, an expense of perhaps a few hundred dollars worth the amount of negative press that I’m giving and will give them?

Granted, Warner’s Stellian isn’t a very big company, and don’t have stores outside of the Twin Cities metro area, but its potential customers can still be influenced by me, an extremely dissatisfied customer.

It appears that many businesses today aren’t very concerned about this yet, and perhaps WS won’t miss the few thousand dollars that my poor treatment will cost them. But more and more, I think that this sort of thing will make an impact. And I think that’s awesome.

I was moved to write this article and to make very public my displeasure by a recent article published on The Consumerist which was posted to Digg.com and Digged (Dugg?) several thousand times. It also made it on to Diggnation, the weekly video podcast highlighting popular shows, which is where I saw it. And host Kevin Rose made the very point I’m getting at in the ramblings above.

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