Shedding light in the corners

John Winsor blogs about this story in an email.

A customer was told by Verizon Wireless that his roaming data rate in Canada would be .002 cents, however when he got his bill he was instead charged .002 dollars. After multiple attempts with multiple call center agents none of them could realize the difference between dollars and cents. After a couple of failed calls the guy recorded his next two phone calls with Verizon, posted them to YouTube and created a Blog. It’s pretty funny actually…unless you are Verizon.

In less than 30 days the original YouTube posting of the recorded audio reached the #1 Top Rated in the News and Blogs category. As of today the audio has been heard by nearly 1/2 a million YouTube viewers. The audio is also on a site called PutFile.com and has over 100K listens there. Who knows how many more sites this has been posted to?

John says listening to the audio is painful. It’s also hilarious.

I suppose many of us have experienced some version of this kind of argument with customer service. Now that we can so easily put the minutiae of these things on public view, something rather interesting can happen… Another version of “branding by accident“.

I also think it’s a nice touch that this story is about a tiny quanity, hundredths of a cent, that becomes interesting only when it’s multiplied. The same is true of the story itself, a tiny interaction with one little customer, that has become massively amplified. Traditional marketing was all about the big launch and the grand campaign. One of the many delights of this audio is the grotesque irrelevance of the the snatches of broadcast propaganda that are interspersed with the the live conversations. The devil is in the detail.

It’s a story that the folks at Disney might need to pay more attention to. Ben McConnell makes an interesting point about their grandiose launch for their new social network.

Quick — which of these successful social networks was launched with a high-profile media blitz: MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or SecondLife?

The answer: None of them.

That’s why Disney’s plan to have CEO Robert Iger unveil a revamped Disney.com as a kid-based social network at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday is a bit like taping a kick-me sign to the newest kid in high school.

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