Storage Soup

Aug 11 2008   2:53PM GMT

The power of the Web in dealing with vendors

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

This story isn’t specifically about storage vendors – it’s about airline carrier JetBlue – but I think it’s a great example of the power of the Internet and populist publishing when it comes to getting the news of your experience with a vendor across to other potential customers and etting that company to respond to you.

Bill Baker was trying to travel home on JetBlue when his flight was cancelled. He said he wasn’t so upset about the cancellation as the manner in which it was handled – no refunds, no sleeping accomodations, no agreements with other carriers to put passengers on other outbound flights.

Unfortunately, what JetBlue didn’t know about this particular passenger is that he works as a technology publicist in Connecticut, and his response was to do, I’m sure, the one thing that would have gotten the undivided attention of his own clients: tell everyone on the Internet about his bad experience.

As CNet’s Charles Cooper put it, “We’re long past the era when companies could cavalierly screw over their customers without risking public humiliation…see, there’s this thing called the Internet…”

Maybe this is true when it comes to consumer companies, but this has not been my experience at all when it comes to customers of enterprise products. You’d think that the comparitively large size of both products and price tags would make the enterprise a market even more rife with publicly-aired criticisms and calls to action, but you’d be wrong.

I find many enterprise customers fearful of speaking publicly, especially about their vendor. I understand there are big bucks and politics at stake in enterprise capital equipment purchases, but it saddens me when users act like they work for the company that sells them storage products rather than the other way around. Especially when users trade daily, arduous efforts to manage unmanageable products or problems for keeping the political peace. It would be great for the industry, I think, if more storage users started blogs like Baker’s.

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  • James Orlean
    Beth: I think you are right - I think there's a natural reluctance to air dirty laundry in a plainly visable and public way when you are still counting on your vendor for ongoing support - no matter how bad it might be. A web site that other end users and myself put together might open the door for *constructive* criticism of vendors. At Storage Monkeys (a social network for storage end users -, we require a corporate email address and full names for registration on the site although only the selected user name is connected to any post. This gives both freedom of expression and privacy with a sense of responsibility since the site admins know who is speaking. So far, no one has come unglued over a vendor and discussion has generally revolved around technologies, not specific vendors... but the site is still new and in beta. Eventually we will probably have vendor-specific forums where both end-user and vendor can engage each other on challenging issues.
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