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Home » Community, Engagement, News, Social Media News

What does HMV and this Applebee’s waitress have in common? They’ve both felt the force of social media

Submitted by on February 5, 2013 – 12:29 pmNo Comment

Last week, we reported on the #HMVXFactorFiring debacle, when the well-meaning actions of one employee threw the company into the social spotlight.

The employee in question has since made herself known as @poppy_powers, and has, through her personal account, lambasted HMV’s reluctance to ‘get on board’ with social:

Brilliantly, after announcing her intention to lay low for a while, she pops back up with a tweet to HMV’s official account instructing them on how to revoke her access. Gold.

Poppy makes a pertinent point, though, on the “true power and importance of social media”. We’ve seen countless ways that brands and organizations can utilize the platform for good, and even beyond the commercial world; how social media is directly saving lives.

But of course, in a world of checks and balances, where there’s light, there’s darkness. And while the HMV affair marks a triumph for social media awareness and understanding, elsewhere the platform is being used to less positive ends.

An Applebee’s waitress last week posted a picture of a receipt she was left at work. Instead of a tip, a customer had scribbled ‘I give God 10%, why do you get 18?’ on the tab, alongside a big fat ‘0’ in the gratuities space.

This kind of thing isn’t uncommon in the hospitality industry, and so the server – Chelsea – posted it on Reddit “as a light-hearted joke”. She tells the Consumerist: “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical. I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining.”

Alas, the internet is a curious being and it wasn’t long before the Reddit community was speculating over the identity of the mysterious pastor who’d left the receipt. So much, in fact, that the story made its way back to the customer who then contacted the restaurant demanding everyone was fired, and – not understanding the ethos of the Reddit community, nor the potentially damaging effects of social media – Applebee’s went into panic mode and Chelsea subsequently lost her job.

Applebee’s believes Chelsea’s actions have damaged the reputation of the business, the pastor in question believes Chelsea’s actions have damaged the reputation of her church, and Chelsea believes that she was simply making light of a pretty unpleasant situation – that was a fairly insulting note, after all.

On hearing that the pastor feels “heartbroken” by the affair, Chelsea adds: “If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone. It’s strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed.”

So again, a triumph for social media in its pursuits of justice, but a big #fail as it’s directly led to one savvy web-user losing their job.

Perhaps Poppy and Chelsea can team up and find new jobs educating brands about best practice?


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