Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Win Your Complaint

David Mokotoff, MD
4 min readJan 1, 2020

You may not win every case, but you can win most

Decades ago, I lived in San Diego, California. It was so long ago that the internet had not been invented. It was there that I learned my first lesson about how to successfully complain to a company about a bad product. Along my daily drive to work was a car dealership. One day I saw a man with one of their cars that was draped in an old sheet. On it he had painted, “Ask me about my lemon I bought here.” That simple phrase was followed by an arrow pointed at the sales office. The man wore a large round yellow costume with his limbs protruding out of four holes that looked like an enormous lemon. I stopped to chat. Apparently, his new car was rife with defects and in three months he had been back to the service department eight times. There were no lemon laws then and despite pleading with the sales department, they would not exchange his auto for a new one or return his money. Hence the demonstration. He made certain to park the car exactly one foot beyond the property line for obvious legal reasons. A few weeks later in the local paper, there he was with his story and photo. A follow-up article described how the dealership had eventually caved into his demands and granted him a new vehicle.

I am not saying this tactic wouldn’t work today, but why bother doing this when you can reach thousands, or even millions, of a company’s customer base with the stroke of a keyboard? I have had great success using social media to lodge legitimate gripes after direct communications fail. You can too. It’s not hard or time-consuming, and best of all you don’t need to be a techie wizard.

Frustration with unacceptable customer service is not new. It has been around as long as there has been commerce. Customers initially lodged complaints on paper and later by phone or email. But e-commerce, and the frustrations of reaching support personal, has fueled buyers’ annoyance to new levels. Now social media provides effective tools to catch the ear of almost any business.

Most companies monitor their social media platforms 24/7. The last thing they want are stinging complaints that can be read and or re-tweeted by an enraged customer. Instead of waiting days and weeks for a response, I have heard back about my complaints in…

David Mokotoff, MD

David Mokotoff is a retired MD, passionate about health, science, medicine culture, and food, https://tinyurl.com/y7bjoqkd