What must be the corporate Holy Grail is having a customer base so loyal to your product that it doesn’t matter what you do to them, they will just suck it up, keep paying you and ask for more. Before the Internet, I am not sure I ever encountered any examples of this loyalty, I am not even sure it existed.
As with much of life, the Internet changed everything.
We, consumers, are often subjected to watchdog type programs saying we should stand up and complain about bad service more – and I agree. For too long people have sat in quiet anger while companies have taken advantage of them.
With this in mind, it is ironic how some internet “companies” (for want of a better word) have managed to develop an almost slavish fan base who will defend them from even the slightest criticism.
Take Flickr as an example. Today it is having some massive database problems. It has been playing up for at least the last three hours, maybe longer. This is not the first time it has happened, and every few weeks it has has a few little “hiccups.” For most people, on free accounts, this is just something you would expect to live with – you get what you pay for some might argue (not me but that is another rant).
However, for people who have paid US$25 per year for a pro account things are, I think, quite different. The amount of money paid is not the issue. The fact is Flickr have taken a payment for a service. If they are unable to provide that service then they should be held accountable in the same manner as if it was a US$25,000 a year account. For some people in the world, US$25 is a monstrous amount of money so there is no argument to say it is “cheap” so we should expect a poor service.
Now in the flickr help thread, there is quite a mixed bag of comments (and hundreds of them). Basically though, they fall into some clearly defined camps:
- People who are outraged and annoyed with flickr for failing to provide them with a service they have paid for.
- People who, for whatever reason, feel the need to defend flickr no matter what.
There are some people who appear “neutral” but they generally make comments that fall into the latter camp, such as:
Get a life [aimed at complaining comments]. And learn that in that life nothing is perfect. Suck it up and be patient. (link)
What a day for this to happen! The day after I signed up , but I must add to the chorus saying, ‘Thank you Kevin for letting us know what’s going on’, there are many many sites out there who would simply leave their users in the dark. (link)
No problem Sir. Thanks for informing us… fail in the system is very normal, because it is created and made by man… very human. Dont worry. Thank you… and take your time (link)
These are not neutral posts – the are basically people who are happy with bad service. I am all for having some tolerance over problems but tolerance is not the same as cheerful acceptance. “Take your time” was too annoying for words. The idea that flickr is great simply because other people wouldn’t tell anyone is nonsense as well.
On the side of the slavish Flickr Fans there is one commenter who really stood out- SF Lights. This person has made dozens of posts basically flaming anyone who complains about the service and then, when people make the inevitable threat to go elsewhere he points out there is no where else to go. Some examples:
Guide [a commenter], you can feel free to leave and go to a more mediocre photo sharing website. (link)
Seriously, learn your facts before posting ignorant crap here. (link)
Byebye Panos, Be sure to upload a video on whichever other great photosharing website you….oh wait, there aren’t any. (link)
He really does come across as annoying. One commenter (Panos) seems to think SF LIghts is flickr staff and I have to say I agree – It is weird to think of a paying customer making authoritative comments like this.
All in all, you have to read the thread to get a full feel for how much the flickr supporters are willing to bend over for this. The idea that their wonderful flickr could ever be at fault seems alien to them. The idea that you should be able to expect a service you have paid for to be fit for purpose seems alien to them.
Just to finish, I actually think this is a trivial fault – it takes about two minutes longer to upload pictures and sometimes you have to refresh a few times to get a page. However, imagine you were in a restaurant and had to order each item of food three of four times… Would you complain? Would you say it was the best restaurant ever?