Comments branding some of the firm's patrons 'really, really stupid' and recounting unflattering conversations with them have apparently been posted on a 3,000 member Facebook group for current and former DSGi employees (that's the business formerly known to most of us as Dixons).
This has unsurprisingly not gone down too well with the firm’s bosses, who have acted quickly to express their displeasure and disappointment, stating rather ominously that ‘We will take the necessary action with any staff found to be acting inappropriately.’ Oh dear.
Other Facebook gems include a debate about customers who deserve to be punched and a question over the shopfloor use of electric shock ‘cattle prods’ in extremis. One of the more frequent gripes appears to be about ‘totally ignorant’ customers – a splendid irony considering that many posters appear to have used their real names to bite the hand that pays their wages so publicly...
Of course, context is all and in this case the context is almost entirely absent. It seems likely to us here at MT that these remarks don’t really amount to much more than an online version of letting off steam; the kind of noisy and stress relieving invective that we have probably all aimed at colleagues or clients who don’t really deserve it at one time or another.
But there’s the rub. When such an outburst is verbal and hissed sotto voce to a trusted and sympathetic friend, very little harm is done. It’s simply part of the grit in the workplace oyster. Do the same thing in a public arena – and social networking sites are essentially public – and the impact, as this story demonstrates, can be very different.
It’s not the first time that this kind of thing has happened – BA had a similar situation with some of its staff a while back – and it won’t be the last. The message to the members of such online groups is to be very careful what you write under your own name, since you never know who is going to read it in the end.
And the message to employers is: keep an eye on this stuff, and deal with it swiftly, but don’t over-react or you risk making the situation far worse.
In many ways it’s all a bit of a storm in a teacup - the fact that staff at Currys and PC World don’t care about customer service is no surprise to many who shop there, after all. At least now, thanks to the wonders of the web, you can be virtually dissed by a bored shop assistant without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home.
In today's bulletin:
T-Mobile close to juicy Orange hook-up
B&Q's rush-job on figures after DIY disaster
Jaeger duo has Aquascutum deal all sewn up
Currys and PC World staff embrace anti-social networking
9 ways to harness the special talents of clever people