Pissed-Off Customer Gets Free PS4 After Cursing Retailer On Twitter

Pissed-Off Customer Gets Free PS4 After Cursing Retailer On Twitter

Badmouthing the British video games retailer ShopTo on Twitter might just get your order canceled. The company today apologized for cancelling the order of a customer who used profanity in complaining to a friend — not to ShopTo — about the pricing of a PlayStation 4 bundle.

Still, ShopTo’s apology seems to leave open the possibility that if you do cuss ’em out on social media — as in, swearing in a Tweet addressed to their Twitter handle — they will cancel your account and all orders associated with it.

Here’s what happened. Customer Carl (who posted an account of this incident to NeoGAF earlier today) noticed that Amazon.co.uk had lowered its price for the PlayStation 4 Mega Bundle (which includes two controllers and Killzone: Shadow Fall) by £20 to £430. Carl sent a Twitter direct message to ShopTo, where he had a PS4 Mega Bundle on preorder, to ask if they would drop their price, too. Direct message answer: “No plans for any price changes. Thanks.”

Carl even apologized for “whining a bit” in subsequent DMs, saying “I’m just a little disappointed, that’s all.” Carl didn’t want to cancel his preorder with ShopTo, as there’s no remaining stock for the Mega Bundle at Amazon.co.uk and he didn’t want to miss out on getting the console day one.

However, he did tell a friend, over-the-air on Twitter, that he’d be shifting his preordered PS4 games from ShopTo to Amazon “to say fuck you :).” The tweet was not addressed to ShopTo. Seven minutes after his last DM to ShopTo, he was confronted with the Tweet. “We do not tolerate rude/vulgar/inappropriate behaviour,” ShopTo DM’d Carl. “We will close the accounts of customers who cannot interact in an appropriate manner.”

“Haha, seriously?” said Carl, speaking for most of us. “OK.”

And with that, ShopTo wiped out his PS4 order. “Consider your account closed. Thank you.”

Carl took the matter to NeoGAF, where it quickly took on a life of its own. Enough that ShopTo opened an investigation into the matter. And for those sceptical of Carl’s story, it checks out, per this apology by the retailer on its site:

“[A]s our staff were talking to this customer at the same time, when our social feed showed the abuse (for social purposes we use tweetdeck to allows us to see anytime the shopto name is mentioned on twitter), the staff took it as being directly made to ShopTo,” said ShopTo.

Basically, Carl’s tweet to his friend was taken for one made to ShopTo’s attention. “Further investigation into this matter shows us that the customer was not actually pointing abuse at us, but just talking to his friend, so in this case we have to deeply apologise for being in the wrong.

“As a way to make this up to the customer we have offered to restore his account and provide his PS4 free of charge.”

ShopTo has admitted it was in the wrong but its reasoning for cancelling the order in the first place seems problematic to me. I am the last person on Earth who gets to lecture anyone on the thickness of their skin. But money is money. If I’ve got yours, it may be unpleasant to hear you complain, but there’s got to be, at least, the smug satisfaction of knowing you’re still paying me and playing by my rules, however odious you find them. Maybe that’s the shameless American capitalism in my upbringing.

ShopTo saw fit to explain that if Carl had directed his profanity at ShopTo, he wouldn’t be getting any sympathy, much less a free console. “We hope that you understand that we thought this abuse was being aimed at us directly. We cannot tolerate our staff being abused and have to take a stance on this, but since this customer did not aim abuse at us directly we must admit that on this occasion we were in the wrong with regards to the decision to cancel his account.”

Still, in addition to making a self-effacing apology for “whining,” and using “fuck you” in about the mildest way one could use those words, Carl is also making a fundamentally empty gesture. He says he’s moving his business away from ShopTo while leaving £450 worth of it with them. Even if Carl had expressed his words more personally, his actions still speak louder, and they say his pique at the price difference doesn’t really matter that much. So why should it matter to ShopTo?

ShopTo: An Apology [ShopTo]

To contact the author of this post, write to owen@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @owengood.


  • Why are there always stories like this, didn’t businesses learn a long time ago that adopting “the customer is always right” mantra just leads to more business? Accept a bit of abuse and breakage costs from a small number of assholes and you get all the goodwill you can handle from good customers, who then tell their friends about how good you are. This is especially true in todays social media world, where a bad customer interaction can reach a huge number of people.

    It boggles my mind that businesses today (or the people running them) can still act like petty little children. Just be nice, give discounts, build customer loyalty and don’t do things that you have to apologise for the next day! How hard can it be?

    • This is why I miss GAME. They treated me really, really well and I always took my business to them. Heck, even when they couldn’t price match I’d still buy stuff from them because they were really cool to deal with.

      Sadly they went out of business.

      I’m a huge fan of JB and I don’t even mind EB, though the latter cross sells way too much. Like trying to get a DS game only to be asked over and over again if I pre-ordered the new PS4.

      • +1 to GAMEs customer service. Hell, I MADE money when I traded in FFXIII…. Probably didn’t help them going bust, but still.

        • GAME bought my PS2 and 10 crappy games for 499 AUD in 2007…. THAT is why they went out of business.

    • Some of them possibly think they can’t be hurt and they will always have a loyal customer base. Maybe back a few years before social media had really taken off sure you could rely on that, but now, nah. Only takes 30 seconds to voice your opinion on facebook, twitter, or whatever about how a store treated you badly.

      I think retailers are stupid to ignore a problem, better off resolving it quickly, effectively and quietly as possible before it turns into negative PR for you.

    • Have you worked in retail? The customer is nearly always wrong and/or stupid. Run out of a product that was advertised (more was arriving that afternoon). Run around screaming about “false advertising”.

      Masterfoods spices on special. Guy grabs a completely different masterfood bottle of something (from different area and not spice, totally different shape) and then tries to argue to us that is is on special. WTF?

      The problem with your theory is that if you accept the abuse and screaming and shit, you teach these people that if they do that, they will get treated better than a nice customer so they keep doing it to get free stuff/vouchers/discounts.

      • Haha yeah, I have worked in retail. I definitely agree that he customer is often wrong, but “the customer is always right” isn’t a description of the customer, but how you should act to them.

        I know there’s a theory that you teach customers to be belligerent assholes by being extra nice, but I don’t believe this – I think assholes will be assholes anyway. You can defuse a bad customer without rewarding them, and especially without abusing them. And if you start taking the stance that you have to teach people how to respect you, then you run the risk of abusing a legitimately good customer. Obviously there’s a middle ground, but I still say lean towards “the customer is always right”. Remember, even if they are being a dickhead, they are still being a paying dickhead.

        Some other things that come into it: If you abuse a bad customer, they can present it in a very one sided manner when they put it on social media, and then the damage is done, even if they deserved the treatment they got.

        And every once in a while you might go overboard to reward a nice customer who unfortunately had a bad experience, and then they’ll put it on social media, and the resulting good PR will be awesome. Reddit is full of posts of people who’ve had good experiences and gotten freebies – does this lead to people trying to abuse the system? Perhaps a bit, but not nearly as much as it creates good PR and brand loyalty.

      • While I agree with you generally, I think the point of the saying holds, which can be summed up as “be a dick to the customer at your own peril, even if they deserve it.”

        • “be a dick to the customer at your own peril, even if they deserve it.”

          -This should definitely be the proper Motto hahahaha 😀

    • The petty little child here is clearly the customer. He preordered the bundle from ShopTo, who were offering it at the same price as Amazon (450 quid). If he had ordered from Amazon to begin with, he’d be paying the same price. If he ordered from Amazon over the weekend, after the price drop, he’d be saving 20 pounds but wouldn’t be receiving the console until some time after launch. It was ridiculous of him to expect ShopTo to price match in the circumstances, and then especially ridiculous to encourage his friends to also move their business away.

      • The majority of customers will act in a self-interested and at times petty way if they think they are being ripped off. It’s just human nature, and it’s the job of a business to rise above that pettiness.

        If a person running a business believes it’s ridiculous of that guy to move his business away and get his friends to move their business away, then they’ll be constantly surprised at how ridiculous people are, right up until they go bankrupt.

      • its not ridiculous alot of business have best price guarantees especially for pre orders

        cause you havent really paid for a product, which hasnt even released yet.

        for the business its a no brainer, all pre order prices are ripoff prices that are guaranteed profits anyway

        so what is a 5% discount to secure customers and guarantee loyalty

    • You have to remember the average IQ is 100. also people get emotional really easily and hence don’t think logically or about the businesses reputation. They retaliate to an attack. Its simple human nature.

  • Fuck you EB Games, JB HiFi, Harvey Norman, Dick Smith, BigW, Target, Kmart and the rest of you. Now where’s my free console?

    • Brb ranting on Twitter how EB Games didn’t give me the job I applied for and calling it discrimination. That should get me something, right?

          • I was at a queer convention back in my early uni days (quite a while ago now) when a debate erupted about bisexuality and it’s validity within the queer community. Basically, it came down to gay’s saying to bi’s “We’re more oppressed then you” and bi’s responding with a “Go jump”.
            Anyway, that afternoon a rather large dark skinned american speaker got up on stage and started with, “I know there has been a lot of debate about oppression and who’s more oppressed then who. Well I’m black, gay and Jewish. I win”
            It was pretty awesome.

    • Unless the customer is trying to point out a massive mistake (like Woolworths bakery labelling 680g loaves of bread as 800g loaves) & the person you tell abuses you and accuses you of working for the government. A recent stunt like that cost one Coles store 90 grand or something for not labelling/incorrectly labelling product.

    • I’m going to guess it’s just a little bit less than 99%. 😀 Probably less than 10% of people who complain are just trying to get free shit.

      But let’s say it’s 50-50. Half of the customers that complain are legitimate, and the other half are dickheads. At that ratio, it’s much better to take the cost of placating the bad customers, so that you can retain the good customers. If a customer has a problem with you, and you SOLVE their issue, they will be much more loyal to you than if they never had a problem at all. They’ll be more likely to recommend you to their friends and buy more stuff from you, because they know that if they have a problem in the future, you will fix it.

      Also consider the ratio of people who have a bad experience who never tell you about it. If you’re getting complaints, you’re only hearing a small percentage of them. Most people can’t be bothered taking the effort to complain (though they’ll happily complain about you to their friends), so they just are left with a negative impression of you. If you hear a complaint, fix it up straight away, because chances are you’re not just fixing it for the one customer who spoke up, but for the dozens that didn’t. What if the one that spoke up was the belligerent dickhead and you told them to piss off? Perhaps the dozen people who didn’t speak up also had the same grievance but didn’t want to “try and get free shit”, so the problem remains and more customers will stumble into it.

      If ShopTo had just agreed to discount the price of the preorder, they would have made more than that back from the loyalty of that customer and their future purchases. They could have met half way and offered a voucher for the value – this would have been enough to defuse the negativity, but instead they just said “We’ve got your money, too bad!”. What they did later with cancelling his preorder was just full-potato, but the problem started with how they handled his initial query.

  • The guy seems like an entitled dick.

    EDIT: I meant the fact that he was complaining in the first place, not that he’s entitled TO the order, which he is, because he’d preordered it.

    • Well, he is entitled. He’s paying money for a product, I’d be feeling pretty damn entitled to get my value for money too.

      • While ShopTo is obviously at fault, I meant the fact that he’s complaining about them not charging him less for a product that he’s already agreed to the price of . They have no responsibility or obligation to lower their price just because he saw somewhere else that it was cheaper, that’s ridiculous!

        • Yeah but that’s business. EB Games matches any price from any other store so sometimes it is in the best interest of a store if they price match on request. I’ve given more money to EB Games than I would have because they price matched. If they didn’t price match they wouldn’t have much from me.

          Yeah he did agree to the initial price, but he could just as easily cancel his pre-order, get a full refund and pre-order the cheaper one at the other store so you know… the initial price doesn’t mean much and businesses SHOULD know that there will be competition as it gets closer to release date. Consumers have the right to a refund when the product hasn’t even been released yet. I’ve never had trouble with this and have cancelled pre-orders before.

  • Well from reading the article, it was a massive over-reaction on ShopTo’s part to cancel a person’s order because he mentioned the company’s name indrectly and in jest so they canceled his order.

    The guy wasn’t being a dick (asking pretty much to price match Amazon’s discount) and was happy to keep his pre-order…but someone reported it (after what appears to be joking around to a friend” and they cancelled it. He reports it onto the web, backlash and disccusions ensues (sorry i can’t access NeoGAF at work)…ShopTo takes notice, investigates it, finds out they were in the wrong, apoligise and restore his pre-order and give it to him for free…

    So I guess I should of have my games pre-orders cancelled from EB because JB has it cheaper and I’ll get it from them to stick it…

    And yes I have worked in retail (for EB games a long time ago) and yes the “customer is always right” is more how to act then a description because not only the customer can be/is wrong, they can be so far wrong that no amount reasoning can be made…I can remember having an arguement with a customer about he pre-ordered a game and wanted to pick it up but he pre-ordered from a different store and had to pick it up there (and we had sold out of said game)…he was yelling and screaming and carrying on and all I could explain to him was that we had no copies left and that he needs to go to the store that he pre-ordered from (and it was fully paid for) as his copy is set aside for him…I remember that he yelled out to me “don’t you know the first rule of retail, the customer is always right”…to my response is “that’s how I meant to act and respond to customers but when the customer doesn’t use thier brains and understand what we’re saying…then they are in the wrong” – he eventually went across town to the EB Games store he placed his pre-order with and picked up his game…

  • Wow.. does swearing at a company really work? In that case, you know which company I hate? BMW. I want one of the F series convertibles, but I can’t afford it! Bah!

    Oh, and “fuck”, I guess..

  • I don’t think this was an overreaction on behalf of the store at all. I applaud any company that decides to forsake potential earnings from a customer because they abused their staff.

    Once it was determined that the abuse wasn’t directed towards them (even though technically it was, regardless of what he says) they reinstated his order. I don’t think the company has behaved poorly.

    • Several things could have happened (in order of smart -> dumb)

      1) ShopTo gives him a discount – earns £20 less on that sale, but gains a potential loyal customer who will buy more in the future. SMARTER

      2) ShopTo gives him a voucher – earns a small amount less on that sale, but defuses an unhappy customer. Probably not enough to buy the customers loyalty though. SMART

      3) ShopTo tells him he can’t get a discount, and then when they notice he’s not happy with them (by his profanity), they could completely ignore it. They gain the money from the pre-order but lose a customer. NEUTRAL

      4) What they actually did – hear his profanity and then cancel his preoder and then apologise later because they made a mistake and overreacted. Now there’s articles on sites like Kotaku giving them bad PR (bad customer interaction and more expensive than Amazon). Now they’re out of pocket the cost of the preorder and they’re in damage control mode. DUMB

      5) Cancelled his preorder and then stood their ground. The resulting shitstorm of bad PR would have cost them significantly. DUMBER

      Out of those 5 potential options that ShopTo had, it really wants to stick to the first 3 if it intends to continue operating.

      I believe a company should stand up for their staff and not allow them to be abused (while still handling the customer situation delicately), but that’s not what happened here at all.

      • I’ve got a feeling it wouldn’t really matter how smart they were. While i agree in your assessment wholeheartedly, the “story” here is actually less a tale of genuine, interesting conflict but more a crafted attack against retailers by Kotaku. The cynic in me says the tone would have been the same no matter their response. Readers are consumers and that’s who they want clicking on the site.

    • Just because it’s a day one edition of a new console doesn’t mean he’s getting a Veyron for $5. It’s still a lot of money for a product, that can be obtained elsewhere.

      Business means brown-nosing potential customers. If you don’t agree with that, gl with your monopoly (if lucky in the market), or your upcoming bankrupcy.

  • Queue a million douchebags cussing out ShopTo “indirectly” in order to get free shit. 20 pounds? Just wear it kid like a big boy.

    • I know people who have cancelled entire pre orders for consoles because they could save 20 bucks at another store, forget 20 quid.. 20 bucks, to me that’s just pathetic. It was 50 bucks i’d give it to them, because they could buy an accessory or half way to another game.

  • Bugger the customer is always right…some of them need a smack upside the head. I guess that’s why I don’t work in retail because I would tell them to ?#@*&%! off out of my store if they have a bad attitude towards me.

  • Puck, you are consistently using the word “diffuse” in reference to calming down a situation which has already escalated beyond the norm. The word you are searching for is in fact ‘defuse’ as in prevent an explosion or catastrophe, not ‘diffuse’ as in dilute or blend.

    Just sayin’.

    • Haha, thanks for pointing that out! I work in 3d, and always thinking about the diffuse map on textures. Seriously, in my mind, somehow I was imagining that “diffuse” was right because diffuse lighting is softer and spread out… haha how embarrassing 😀

      Now I have to go and change every one… I hate leaving spelling mistakes in my posts!

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