Fifty-four million dollars for a pair of missing pants?
A judge in Washington, D.C., made headlines when he filed a $54 million lawsuit against his neighborhood dry cleaner because it lost a pair of his pinstriped suit pants. He claimed that a local consumer protection law entitled him to thousands of dollars for each day over nearly four years in which signs at the shop promised “same day service” and “satisfaction guaranteed.” The suit dragged on for several months, but at the end of the day the plaintiff went home with empty pockets. And some people claim we have too many lawsuits in this country!
If you’re not happy with a product or service, what can you do about it? You have three possible courses of action (though sometimes you can take more than one):
1. Voice response — You can appeal directly to the retailer for redress (e.g., a refund).
2. Private response — You can express your dissatisfaction to friends and boycott the product or the store where you bought it.
3. Third-party response — Like the pantsless judge, you can take legal action against the merchant, register a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, or write a letter to the newspaper.
These comments can be effective, especially when others join in. Cover Girl ran an advertising campaign targeted to female football fans that depicted a model wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey with the tagline, “Get Your Game Face On.” At about the same time, a prominent Ravens player made headlines in a series of allegations about NFL players who physically abused their wives and girlfriends. Protestors went online and altered the ad to make it look like the model had a black eye.
When enough people band together to express negative marketplace sentiments through activist organizations such as Greenpeace or in social media mass protests such as the one Cover Girl ran into, dramatic changes can result.
Make your voice heard!