Complaining On Social Media Pays Off, Literally

Call it raising a customer service issue or plain old venting, complaining about products or services on social media is now commonplace – and lucrative, according to a new survey by, a British price comparison site.

Indeed, in addition to (hopefully) getting a brand’s attention, dissatisfied customers who are vocal on social media have received millions in payouts in the UK, found.

The online survey of more than 100,000 British adults discovered that 15% have taken to social media to complain about a company’s product or service.

Within this group, 55% said the company offered a speedy solution to their problem, and 28% said the company’s customer service representatives offered cash, rebates or freebies to help resolve the issue (called “hush money” in other contexts).

The total value of cash and free stuff handed out by companies in response to social media complaints in the UK comes to £65 million, or just over $81 million at current rates. That works out to about £32 or $40 per person voicing complaints.

Men were a bit more likely to complain on social media, with 16% of male Brits doing so, versus 14% for women, and men also received higher payouts on average, at £40 compared to £26 for women.

Interestingly, however, women were more likely to feel that their complaints had been resolved effectively, with 58% of female complainants voicing satisfaction versus 52% of men (perhaps evidence that men do indeed just like to complain).

On a positive note, 28% of British adults use social media to compliment and recommend products or services, nearly twice the proportion who complain. also offered some advice for unhappy customers hoping to get their issue resolve via social media. Among the tips: find out if the company has a specific customer service channel on social media, and lodge your complaint there, not on the main channel, where it’s likely to get lost in the shuffle.

Additionally, keep the complaint short and to the point, so customer service reps can quickly grasp what the issue is (no need for the back story about how you were already having a bad day).

Third, make sure you have a real profile picture, your real first name, and sound like a real person in your message, lest you be dismissed as a bot or anonymous troll.

Finally, if you’re not getting any traction, don’t be afraid to recruit friends and family to retweet your complaint or comment on the Facbeook post, raising the terrifying specter of the complaint going viral (no one wants to be the next United).

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