Brand management is definitely more challenging since the advent of social media because social media savvy bloggers or musicians that know how to create videos or even a frustrated customer with a lot of friends can create quite a stir online.
Every decision a major corporation announces - especially Internet related companies - has potentially millions of bloggers investigating and acting as commentators on their every move.
None of us really knows for sure whether some of these recent incidents were intentional "leaks" - or the brands involved believe "any publicity is good publicity" = or they simply don't care what we think .
Betraying Your Own Customers = Bad Publicity!
An Accident Attorney's Blog comment in GrowMap led me to their post Car Crash Victim Betrayed by Progressive Insurance Company - and that led to this post - especially after I researched what happened and why Twitter users were incensed.
How big a stir can bloggers, tweeters, and social media create? This kind of bad PR might affect your bottom line more than most. You be the judge in the Case of the Progressive Insurance Scandal:
Matt Fisher's post went viral: My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court. Matt was interviewed on video, so we'll let him share his story himself:
1) First Progressive Refuses to Pay
Matt's Message to Other Progressive Insurance Customers:
Carrying Progressive insurance and getting into an accident does not entitle you to the value of your insurance policy. It just pisses off Progressive’s lawyers. Here I address you, Prospective Progressive Insurance Customer: someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive’s bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money.
Which is what Progressive decided to do to my family. In hopes that a jury would hang or decide that the accident was her fault, they refused to pay the policy to my sister’s estate.
2) Then Progressive LIED - "sort-of"
Progressive wasn't done failing yet. Their next move was to LIE and say they did NOT defend the driver who killed their customer. Oh - excuse us - they WERE sitting at the opposing council's table, but in their minds that does NOT constitute defending the other driver. They don't care about that guy either. In HuffPo's post we find this quote:
"A Progressive rep on Wednesday confirmed to HuffPost that an attorney for Progressive was providing counsel in the trial. However, the rep added, the attorney represented only Progressive, not the defendant. Progressive provided no evidence, he said, but was looking after its interests in the liability aspect of the case."
Huffington Post Asks Who Do You Believe; the Brother or the Insurance Company? Really Huffpo? You're kidding, right? Do you know how many people have been burnt by their insurance companies?
How many adults are not aware that insurance companies got laws passed forcing you to buy mandatory liability insurance that doesn't even cover you or your car - forcing those who can least afford insurance to pay out money they need for food on something that does them no good at all - when every person who CAN afford insurance and has a vehicle of high value carries uninsured motorist coverage.
I wonder how many have ever realized that insurance companies have used the
power of the government so they can double-dip and collect twice for the same exposure -
and most likely won't even pay out then unless you sue them!
It is no coincidence that Texas accident attorneys ads are everywhere where I live. But the people in Maryland - they can't even do that!
You can't sue your insurance company in Maryland if they refuse to pay you? WHAT?
3) Progressive Tweets The Letter of the Law Argument
The Consumerist reports in After Woman Dies In Car Crash, Brother Says Her Insurance Company Defended Other Driver In Court:
"The Twitter-sphere (and the Consumerist tipline) are blowing up this afternoon with the story of a man who claims that after his sister's life was taken in a tragic car crash, her insurance company -- Progressive -- came to the aid of the man driving the other car."
To add insult to injury, Progressive kept tweeting the same message:
"We properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations."
Good work, Progressive. You proved what many of us already know - that you don't care what is right or wrong or that your customers pay for years but you have no intention of ever paying out.
You rarely have to because your clever lawyers use fine print and the fact that most people can't afford to hire attorneys to duck what any ethical person would believe you owed.
4) Progressive Loses in Court BUT...
The Fishers were awarded $760,000, reported New York magazine. Victory for the Fishers, right? Money on its way? Well..."At this point, I hope you’ll forgive me if I wait for it to actually happen," Fisher wrote.
Chris Wolf, claims general manager for Progressive, said in a Tuesday email to HuffPost:
"We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution."
Does THAT sound to you like they plan to pay the amount the court awarded? It sure doesn't to me. They still plan to "reach a resolution".
What do you suppose their idea of a resolution is?
I bet you can guess what MINE is.
5) Mandatory Insurance is Extortion
This started out to be a post about social media exposing brands making mistakes online, but it can do something else. Now would be a great time to repeal mandatory insurance laws.
You can not expect people who make minimum wage to give up eating so they can afford to pay for liability insurance that doesn't even cover them or their vehicles.
Any person whose vehicle is valuable buys uninsured motorist coverage -
so mandatory liability insurance only gives insurance companies more profits.
It does NOT protect ANYONE else. WORK to REPEAL THESE LAWS!
Even the most law-abiding among the working poor who already live frugally may WANT to keep their insurance current, but little things like doctor bills or a child needing a broken arm set can get in the way - you know life.
Most people can put those kinds of emergencies on a credit card or get family to help out - but many don't have credit cards or credit or even bank accounts and their families have zero disposable income so they are not in any position to assist.
6) Mandatory Insurance Laws Cause Poor to Lose Their Vehicles and Their Freedom
Do you know what can happen if you get stopped without proof of insurance? Many have found out the hard way:
- Your vehicle can be seized by arcane asset forfeiture laws - leaving you afoot on the side of the road - and with no way to get to work any more.
- If you can't pay your fines, what you owe can be sold to collection agencies that can actually PUT YOU IN JAIL by doing an end run around debtor's prisons being outlawed.
- Those who have so far been able to keep their bills paid and avoid fees, fines, penalties and interest need to have more compassion because - as Joan Baez Sings, "There but for fortune, go you or I". See my causes page for more serious issues we are all facing.
What some poor workers do is pool their money to buy a "throwaway car" they all use - the cheapest vehicle they can find. That way when it gets seized, they don't lose much - and they pool their money again and buy another.
Do we really want to ask people to decide between eating and useless insurance?
Bad Press for Progressive:
- Technolog MSNBC: Insurance company sympathies ring hollow on Twitter
- BoingBoing: Matt Fisher: Progressive Insurance is lying, they did too defend my sister's killer
- ABC News: Family of Woman Killed in Crash Accuses Insurer of Calling Witness Against Her
- KSDK News: Fisher family accuses Progressive of defending killer in court
How do you feel about paying for coverage that doesn't cover you to companies
that have no intention of paying out unless they are legally forced to do so?
Tell us in the comments!