Currys and PC World have become the latest firms to come under the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons, after staff unleashed a torrent of abuse at their customers via social networking site Facebook.
Parent company the Dixons Store Group international (DSGi) is said to be investigating the incidents after current and ex-employees reportedly branded customers "really stupid", "arseholes" and "fu**tards" on an unofficial Facebook group titled DSGi employees.
Discussion boards for the 3,000+ strong group have been given titles such as "Arsehole customers", "Really Stupid customers" and "Chatting up customers", giving a fairly good insight into the kind of topics discussed therein.
DSGi has since come out with a statement saying that it has "clear guidelines for staff and will investigate any alleged abuse of customers", adding that it's just a small number of staff who are responsible for the comments.
The news follows similar incidents at BA, where staff complained on Facebook about passengers with "stupid American accents", and over at rival Virgin Atlantic, whose staff labeled their customers "chavs".
It's highly symptomatic of an age where large corporates are struggling to come up with and enforce clear policies ruling what staff can and can't say on social networking and other public-facing sites.
If DSGi does indeed have clear guidelines for staff, as it says, then those few who made the comments should be in line for a dismissal, and will stand as a warning to others to keep these kind of remarks private.
But if, as is more likely the case, any guidelines were poorly communicated and not prescriptive enough, DSGi will only have itself to blame, and a mammoth PR exercise on its hands in order to win back the trust and respect of its customers.
Web 2.0 can do wonders for a company's profile and facilitate closer corporate-customer ties than have ever been possible before. Or, if your staff decide to use the technology to call your customers ignorant tight-fisted tw*ts, it could go some way towards ruining your business.
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