With questions posed from BBC’s Kevin Rawlinson like “Can a lone blogger bring down a business? … In the online age, do bloggers wield too much power? … Or does the internet’s promise of freedom of speech trump businesses’ need for a way to prevent their profits being hit?” in anarticle published yesterday, you would think bloggers have disrupted all normal forms of economic commerce.
Rawlinson continues the post-apocalyptic #FirstWorldProblem: “It would be a nightmare for any small business: one unhappy customer takes offence and their blog keeps popping up every time a potential purchaser searches for the store’s name.”
The story is told of a shoe shop in Ireland who told the BBC that 85 percent of their business is done online and after one of those paying customers posted a bad review on styleforum.com a “premier online community for men’s style,” and (obviously) the world ended. Or something.
The shoe shop is Robinson’s Shoes and that once disgruntled customer is Jesper Ingevaldsson, who eventually resolved matters with the store. But in Ingevaldsson’s dramatic telling of his experience with the store, he outlines: “the way they treated me during this whole process I’m really pissed.”
In the preface to his retelling of his own experience he states, “[t]hey have given me the worst online shopping experience with truly lousy customer service.”
Rawlinson says the story “bears similarities” to the news that came out of France recently where a blogger was ordered to change their blog title that a restaurant claimed hurt their business because it said “a place to avoid” and showed up as the fourth return in Google when the restaurant is plugged in the search engine.
idiot judge also noted that the blog, Cultur’elle, ran by Caroline Doudet, had 3,000 followers. Doudet’s been ordered to pay €1,500 ($2008.37) in punitive damages and also €1,000 ($1338.76) for the cost incurred by the plaintiff to bring the suit forward.
What does this have to do with Ingevaldsson? Little. Ingevaldsson is a blogger, but his experience was posted on an open forum. If the suggestion is that bloggers are a sect of people who should be treated differently than the general public (which I’m sure BBC will deny it was suggesting), well then… we’ve got a fight on our hands. The only similarity may be that Europe is culturally burning.
Here’s a free link to Robinson’s Shoes website, since BBC’s Rawlinson actualised the shoe shop’s worst fears by permanently linking it (through the BBC article and posts that will follow, including this one) with a once disgruntled customers truly horrible customer experience.
What is telling, is that professional journalists on both sides of the pond have resorted to painting an alarming picture for the public of what bloggers are and what it is we do.
Ali Akbar is the President of the U.S.-based National Bloggers Club. He tweets at @Ali. This article was first posted on The Weblogger website and has been cross-posted with permission.