While it was great to see everyone at the Burlington Social Media Breakfast on Monday, and it was amazing to listen to the brilliant Adrian Ho (who tried to deliver twice the value, according to one of his tweets), there was one conspicuous absence: Rebecca Thorman from Alice.com. Rebecca emailed me late in the day on Saturday to let me know she wasn't flying in on Sunday to speak to her Burlington audience on Monday.
It got me thinking about something Adrian Ho said in his talk: People don't want relationships with companies; we want relationships with other people.
He's right. I wrote a blog post about buying $60+ worth of packaged goods on Alice.com because Rebecca asked me too.
Well, right now this is one company I really don't want a relationship with. Here's why:
- Saturday at 5 PM is late in the game to cancel. We had 175 disappointed people who had been promised an experience they never got. It might be me, but you have to have some very serious excuse to cancel at that point. And if some catastrophe does happen, that's when we see what people are really made of. You know, when the going gets tough...
- No help in finding a replacement. Even though it was a long shot, I had people helping me in NY, Boston and Burlington to come up with a replacement. In several cases, I barely knew the helpers, but they were willing to do what they could on the weekend. Alice.com did zip. When you have a following of thousands of people, saying "I don't know anyone" doesn't really ring true.
- Only communicating through email. Despite many attempts, I was refused even one phone conversation. E-mail is a great tool but it's also a great place to hide behind. With all of the planning and publicity for this event, the least I would expect is a phone call for something this serious. If I had ordered toothpaste at Alice.com and they kept sending me hemorrhoid cream, would they keep refusing to talk to me over the phone?
I'm sure Rebecca would think I'm being terribly unfair and mean, if she ever read this. I can understand that; I can empathize with it. Maybe that's what I expected back. I'm not at issue with Rebecca getting sick either; I'm at issue with how she handled herself afterwards.
And it's not that I'm feeling Faustian in trying to make someone keep a bargain. I'm not looking to get anything out of this. My only hope is that this won't happen again to some other audience.
Sorry Alice.com. All the fancy social media work doesn't amount to a hill of beans if you talk one way, and then act another. I'm one customer who won't be coming back.