WEEK #22 MAY 30th

Dear Customers,

About 18 years ago, shortly after we moved up the street to this location, 4 undergrads at Harvard launched a new social media platform that they called FaceBook! It was originally intended as a way for Harvard students to access other Harvard students.  As its membership grew, It quickly became a means for locating old friends, lost family members and keeping up on local news.  FaceBook’s current membership is over THREE BILLION world-wide and its purpose has morphed into a place for people to post anything that crosses their mind, often without regard to the consequences.

FaceBook, for all its social benefits has recently been criticized over issues such as user privacy, political manipulation, mass surveillance, fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, psychological effects such as addition and low self-esteem, and hate speech.  It costs nothing to join FaceBook.  They are paid, quite handsomely, by advertisers.

Recently, Costa’s Supermarket was mentioned on Facebook in two separate posts by two different customers.  The first customer was complaining about a shopping experience she had at our deli.  It was posted for all the world to see and it was the first time we heard anything about it!  The second customer had an experience with our meat department in which he was less than satisfied.  He, however, chose to contact us privately through Instant Messenger – a means of internet communication more private and not shared with virtually the entire world.

Since opening for business in Smethport in 1950, we’ve logged 72 years of customer service in and around our community.  We’ve never intentionally defrauded a customer and ALL complaints have been handled with the customer’s satisfaction in mind.  We’re currently on our 4th generation of family members and we’ve all been taught to keep the customer foremost in our minds.

To make a long story short, we contacted the customer who privately complained and refunded his money.  He was extremely grateful and thanked us for resolving his complaint in a satisfactory and professional manner.  The first customer chose to vilify us publicly, providing us no phone number or address, giving us no opportunity to make good on her complaint.

That’s the thing about social media.  When you put something out there, you can’t take it back. Sure, you can “unpost it”, but everyone’s already seen it and formed an opinion!   It sometimes seems a bit cowardly, to me, particularly when we’d have been more than happy to rectify any problem.  We spend thousands of dollars a year to advertise, both on-line and in print media.  All it takes is one disgruntled person with access to a computer to undo everything we’ve done, which is unfortunate because we would try to resolve any problem if just given the chance.