When it comes to making mistakes, these disasters truly take the cake. Continue reading to learn valuable lessons that will help you avoid epic fails like these.
If that’s not your reaction when reading these epic blunders, it’s time to enroll in PR 101.
Check out these big ecommerce fails, and, more importantly, learn from their mega mistakes.
1. Best Buy becomes the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas”
Some businesses believe in “under promising and over delivering,” but when it came to Best Buy last year, they delivered quite the opposite.
During the major holiday rush, Best Buy offered deep discounts to drive millions of shoppers and dollars to its site. The problem? They ran out of inventory on several items before fulfilling shipments. To make matters worse, they cancelled numerous orders, just days before Christmas.
As expected, upset customers flocked to the web to leave seething comments. One poignant consumer compared the company to the Grinch, saying, “I wouldn’t touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.” At the end of the day, Best Buy apologized and had to cough up store credits to those affected.
Lesson Learned: When running discounts and promotions, have the inventory to back it up.
2. Belkin gets caught for otherwise “positive” reviews
Everyone is entitled to share their opinion, whether it’s good or bad. But when electronics retailer, Belkin International, got caught paying for positive product reviews, their online reputation became badly tarnished.
Back in 2009, a representative from Belkin’s business development team had the bright idea to pay users to write perfect reviews of Belkin products for 65 cents each. To make matters worse, the Belkin rep provided specific instructions on how to write optimal reviews. Needless to say, the unethical practice was discovered and the company found itself in a PR nightmare. Even after their apology, Belkin product reviews are still likely taken with a grain of salt.
Lesson Learned: Always be authentic and transparent, no matter what.
3. PayPal feels “Regretsy” after denying a Donate button
On top of record-breaking sales, the 2011 holiday season was full of snafus. One that caught major ecommerce headlines came from payment juggernaut, PayPal, after they shut down an account designated for providing toys to underprivileged children.
But wait, why would PayPal do that?
Turns out the campaign was created by Regretsy (a popular blog that pokes fun at unusual crafts), which was accused of misusing PayPal’s “Donate” button. PayPal argued that since Regretsy wasn’t a non-profit organization, it wasn’t eligible use the button. After a horrible conversation between PayPal and Regretsy, the blog posted scathing content about PayPal, lighting the controversy on fire. Eventually, PayPal released the funds for use, but not before taking a few punches.
Lesson Learned: Be open to making exceptions to your policies, when appropriate.
4. Ocean Marketing goes viral for awful customer service
We all know that customer service is an important aspect of any online business. Unfortunately, someone forgot to mention that to a rep at Ocean Marketing, a firm that supports a popular video game controller.
Long story short, Dave, a customer checking on the status of his order, got into a nasty email exchange with Paul, a PR lead for the company. After providing a few “short” responses, Paul blasted the customer by saying, “…put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else.” After this exchange snowballed for the worse, Dave sent the thread to a popular blog, Penny Arcade, which posted the emails on its site. Shortly thereafter, Paul was fired, but not before he held the company’s social profiles hostage and left a big bruise on the company’s reputation.
Lesson Learned: Don’t let idiots manage your customer service.
The biggest takeaway from these baffling blunders is this: in the world of real-time news and social sharing, little errors can blow up into major catastrophes. Be cautious with the decisions you make when managing your online business – it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
-Matt Winn, Social Media Manager, Volusion