Last week I was asked eModeration’s opinion of this story about a Greek Apple reseller Systemgraph, who are suing a customer who complained – possibly with justification – about the damage they caused to his machine whilst supposedly fixing it. You may have heard the tale: the unhappy Mr Papadimitriadis posted his story on a forum, and in return, the company is suing him for 200,000 Euros for reputational damage.
According to their statement on the AV Club forum, the law suit was in response to an “organised attempt to slander and insult” the company via social media sites, blogs and forums. The Twitterati have been enjoying this hugely – a post quoted by the article reads: “In defense of #Systemgraph, their feelings were very hurt. 200,000 Euros is a bargain considering how hurt their feelings were.”
The fact that this case is actually going to court gives many reasons for concern, not the least of which is whether it will now be possible to complain about anything, anywhere on the Internet and not be sued. But I’m most interested right now in the customer service side to this case.
What should Systemgraph have done? They should have engaged with their angry customer, tried to take it out of the public arena asap, and done their level best to get the problem sorted. At the end of the day, it would have been far wiser to calculate the cost of the potential reputational damage of failing to resolve the problem versus the cost of the computer in question. Not to mention the potential PR gain of turning an angry customer around.
Does it really, actually matter that much if they genuinely believe they didn’t damage his computer? How about ‘goodwill payments’ and ‘the customer is always right’? Taking the customer to court and suing him, frankly seems like reputational suicide.