If you run a company, it's inevitable you're going to get criticized. But you don't care, you've got your successful business, power and millions of dollars. You can just let those angry words roll right off you. Right?
Well, you could do that, or you could throw a tantrum like an angry toddler. For instance...
Cracked's inferior, still-printed-on-dead-trees competitor MAD Magazine ran a parody of a Circuit City circular back in August 2008. Circuit City happened to be circling the drain at the time, so they were kind of touchy.
Realizing immediately how many consumers make their purchasing decisions based purely on MAD's advice, Circuit City recognized the situation as a corporate emergency.
Corporate ordered every Circuit City that carried MAD (about 40 of them, out of 700 stores) to destroy every copy of the magazine they had in stock, which we like to think included ripping issues from the hands of crying children in the checkout line.
Fairly quickly after the story hit the Internet, somebody at Circuit City realized that their bizarre Stalin-esque censorship campaign was about to bring the company more negative attention than MAD's parody ever could. Not such a good thing when the entire company is teetering on the brink of utter collapse.
An organization representing tomato pickers woke up and noticed something: They were getting paid the same amount for a 32-pound bushel of tomatoes that they were getting paid in 1978. So, they wanted a raise. Specifically, they wanted a penny more per pound.
This made Stephen Grover, a Burger King VP who was in charge of supply chain, a very, very angry man. After all, that'd be sucking away a penny out of every, oh, 500 or so burgers they sell.
So he did what everybody does these days: flamed them on the Internet. Using his daughter's email address.
"The CIW is an attack organization lining the leaders pockets ... They make up issues and collect money from dupes that believe their story. To (sic) bad the people protesting don't have a clue regarding the facts. A bunch of fools!" -- surfaholicx36
His daughter pretty much threw him under the bus the minute reporters called and asked, and Burger King wound up paying the workers their pennies. As for Grover, who was caught hiding behind his daughter, Burger King did the only reasonable, intelligent thing they could do with such a coward: They promoted him.
You only need to know two things about Jason Roe: he hates credit card fees and he likes flying to and from Ireland. While he was poking around the website for European airline Ryanair, trying to figure out a way to dodge the fees, he found a bug that locked all the prices at $0.00. Finding this hilarious, as only website developers can, he reported the glitch on his website. That's when he discovered Ryanair apparently recruits almost exclusively from /b/.
The following comments showed up:
"You are an idiot and a liar!" -- "Ryanair Staff #1"
"You changed some numbers on your own screen tricking yourself into thinking that you could get a free flight, without actually succeeding." -- "Ryanair Staff #2"
"If you would work in your pathetic life on a such big project in a such busy environment with so little resources, you would know that the most important is to have usual user behavior scenarios working rather than spending time on improbable and harmless things." -- "Ryanair Staff #3"
So, the whole "Ryanair Staff" thing, that was probably a joke by some kid, right? After all, if Ryanair employees were going to sneak in and wage a comment war, they wouldn't actually name themselves as Ryanair staff. Right?
Wrong. After at least three employees called Jason a pathetic delusional retard, Ryanair (which is run after all by highly intelligent people) issued a public apology and fired the losers.
Oh, wait, actually Stephen McNamara from Ryanair said:
"Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. . . It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won't be happening again. . .Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel."
"Oh, also we make pretty hot calendars."
Well, OK then! We totally feel bad for thinking you were the bad guys there. Oh, and as further proof that Ryanair's PR policy seems to be run by very drunken, angry men, their next corporate announcement was that they'd be charging you a Euro to take a dump on their airplanes.
Back in 2001, the RIAA was so, so confident in its SDMI encryption, which implanted a watermark into a music file, that they invited the entire Internet to try and hack it, complete with cash prize. Hey, no way this can come out with them looking stupid, right?
Sure enough, Ed Felten, a computer science professor at Princeton and a computer security expert, took a crack at it and handily stripped out the watermark in three weeks. His prize was a lot of lawsuits.
First, RIAA pretended that Felten's efforts didn't count because it compromised the quality of the audio file, which they hadn't bothered to mention in the contest rules. Felten wasn't too bothered, as he didn't qualify because he hadn't signed the confidentiality agreements. So he went to present a paper on how he'd defeated SDMI, which is kind of his job, and the RIAA nailed him with plenty of lawsuits, a strategy which they'd use to great effect later on vicious criminals like Jammie Thomas.
Felten counter-sued and ultimately won, presenting his paper while nerds had a laugh about how stupid the RIAA was. The RIAA went off and created a new encryption scheme that was defeated by an obscure method where you draw a circle on the CD with a marker.
Speaking of Ed Felten, there's absolutely no way that a voting machine company would ever threaten to sue a respected computer security expert just because he was engaging in a perfectly legal check of their hardware and software ordered by a state government, right?
Perhaps realizing Felten was pretty good at finding software fuck-ups (and not just in CDs either, he'd already taken on Diebold on voting machines) E-voting firm Sequoia sent Felten a threatening letter saying that if he said anything bad about their machines, they would, like, totally sue him. Because nothing says democracy like suing somebody so they won't say anything bad about you.
Why won't everyone just leave Ed Felten alone?
Felten, drawing on his rich RIAA experience, no doubt laughed his ass off and then went ahead and in fact found that Seqouia's voting machines could be hacked in seven minutes. Also, it didn't record votes accurately all the time ... even un-hacked.
Seqouia quietly went away. Meanwhile, the machines are still being used and are surely working with atomic-level precision.
Consumer review websites serve two purposes: to inform consumers about the best values, and to give frustrated and semi-crazy customers a place to vent without making a scene and knocking over a magazine rack. Everybody understands this.
Well, not everybody. When car transportation company Auto Transport Direct saw customers talking trash about them on Transport Reviews, well, they couldn't leave the complaints unanswered. But, hey, that's understandable, right? Reply to the negative comments, give your side, it's all good.
The employee in charge of conducting their response/flame war kind of took the whole thing personally. So they went right for personal attacks against the reviewers, which is kind of a dick move, but also took the extra step of digging up and posting customers' personal information (real name and home town) to just go that extra dick mile.
It wasn't a dick accident, either. After "April" left her anonymous review, Direct Express posted her info and taunted her: "Her choice of words in which to express herself should tell you plenty, which fortunately is now captured on the Internet with her full name and town."
Take that, dissatisfied customer!
Once again the heroes at The Consumerist jumped into the fray, posting the story and eliciting the expected outrage in their comments (including one who dug up and posted the personal info on the business's owner, including how much he paid in property taxes last year).
Before it could turn into a full-blown incident, the company edited every one of their snarky responses and pasted an apology on the front page of their site.
"While we find it frustrating that some people make disparaging comments on the Internet without putting their name to their words, we understand that the Internet works in that way and that we should respect people's right to opine, vent and express themselves in any way they choose. So there will be no more name and town stuff... We get it. And we're sorry."
Hey, they get it, awesome. If only everybody did...
16-year-old Kimberly Swann started working at Ivell Marketing and Logistics as an "office administrator," i.e. doing the same kind of boring bitch work in an office every 16-year-old intern has to do. She was bored about it, so she updated her Facebook with remarks like "OMG! Shredding is so totally boring!" We're sure this was news to all her friends.
A couple of weeks later, she was summoned to manager Mark Ivell's office and fired. The manager's exact words were: "I have seen your comments on Facebook and I don't want my company being in the news."
Kimberley had never mentioned where she was working by name. Yet, a professional marketer thought that a teenager's Facebook update would qualify as "news," apparently under the impression that they were in the midst of the slowest fucking news day in history.
The most trusted names in news.
Oh, and there's also the question of why he was checking this 16-year-old girl's Faceboook in the first place...
Kimberly Swann, meanwhile, has had her charming 16-year-old face plastered all over the Internet, which means somebody has masturbated to it. Or several thousand somebodies. Everyone wins!
More Dan can be found here.
To see more from the world of corporate douchebaggery, check out The 5 Least Surprising Toy Recalls of All Time and The 6 Creepiest Marketing Campaigns Aimed at Children.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see some corporate boobies.
The flow of time is cruel to us all.