Fierce Nerditude: True Facts: Bad Behavior Can And Will Lose You Business

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

True Facts: Bad Behavior Can And Will Lose You Business

Let's make one long story short: I can no longer support High Voltage Cosmetics. I genuinely liked all of the products that I had (with some qualification based on inaccurate online swatches), but recently some people have recieved sub-par lip products (read: products that smell like rotten paint--ew). Furthermore, while I've only received top notch customer service from the owner of the company (aside from some missing free samples with orders, which I didn't feel right complaining about), many others have reported issues.

I was unsure of what to think--my experiences were not in line with others' so I held off on reviewing. After all, if I was getting great service and no one else was, would I be leading my followers into spending money with a company that they really shouldn't? Moreover, how could I say that I didn't think people ought to be buying from a company that I myself still felt comfortable purchasing from? I am no longer comfortable recommending High Voltage at all and will be going backwards and adding a note to every look post in which I used one of their products.

The next long story is going to be long, so buckle in. I also do not feel that I can recommend One Hand Washes The Other.

I don't think I should keep myself from saying what I feel on my own blog. That's neither right nor fair, to either of us really. I write this blog to be able to express what I feel I need to express. If you read my blog, you probably do so in order to read the things that I feel the need to write.

A lot of you will know about the 'private' facebook group created for... well, I don't know why it was created. The funny thing is, nobody really seems to agree. It seemed to have started out as an effort to get the various High Voltage stories together, but it spiraled quickly out of control.

At one point I saw Jasmine's--the owner of High Voltage Cosmetics's--home address. Somebody had tracked it down. While initially, I felt the creation of a private group to talk about one company owner's private life felt a little iffy (Was that the reason why it was created? Like I said, no one knows), this was the tipping point for me. It was a horrible invasion of privacy, in my opinion.

That same night the owner of One Hand Washes The Other found and posted links to access somebody's nude pictures in the group. In my personal opinion, this is absolutely indefensible.

Further on, she told one group member, who had no real connection to Jasmine but chose to join--that she 'ought to be ashamed' of being in the group 'to snoop', even though links to join this group were everywhere. They still are. If you poke around a bit, I'm sure you'll be able to find a few.

I was planning on making a purchase from this company very soon. Literally, the only thing stopping me was that I didn't have the funds at the moment. I found the prospect that I had very nearly given this person my money sickening. I wrote a post about this Sunday morning and it would've gone up Monday.

However, I found out that the owner of the company apologized. I deleted the post I'd initially written, though I shouldn't have. My initial topic was the lack of professionalism she displayed in the group by posting links to somebody's nude photos. That issue was never properly addressed.

That night though... Let's just say shit went down. And Becca, the owner of OHWTO? Her behavior was nothing if not unprofessional.

And yes, I've had people tell me that she was there in her private Facebook account and perfectly within her rights to say what she wanted. She was. The fact of the matter remains: If you own a business, anything you do in front of customers (or potential customers) who know of your brand represents your brand.

She represented her brand by behaving very poorly in front of both customers and potential customers.

I'd been getting twitter DMs all night from people telling me that they would never spend their money with Becca again--and not through soliciting them. People felt the need to contact me of their own volition telling me that this was the case, and one of them has chosen to screenshot and send me an email for this very post.

She got into a fight with a blogger, and when I called her behavior rude, she argued with me which was fine. I was careful to be utterly respectful in my tone and language because I didn't want her to think I was angry. I wasn't. She was only casually rude to the blogger, and the behavior was nothing on the level of her posting links regarding one woman's past in pornography.

When I eventually brought up the fact that I believed her behavior was losing her business (she was at this point refusing to take down an image that showed the blogger's information)? She accused me of threatening her. I was sent these screenshots by others, because I wasn't screen capping myself. Unfortunately, I can't show you the thread in its entirety, but if you find a link to that group I'm told it's still intact (without, I'm told, the blogger's personal info still up) and it's available to you, the general public.

I can not count the number of times I've made snarky comments about ELF, Nyx or Sally Hansen or the people at either of those companies (and publicly, too). The number of times I've had customers and even non-customers (people just in the establishment to harass employees) be directly rude to me at my job? Countless.

My response: Ignore if possible, possibly apologize to them whether they deserve it or not, whether or not I or the company'd done something wrong. It's annoying, but it's Customer Service/Public Professional Persona 101. It does not matter whether someone is or isn't a customer, nor does it matter whether they are being disrespectful to you. As a representative of the company you work for (or in this case own) you ought to be respectful and not engage a rude person on their own level. She is perfectly within her rights to do otherwise, but doing so represents her brand poorly, in my opinion.

Am I saying that you shouldn't spend your money with One Hand Washes The Other? Not at all. It's not my business where you spend your money, but I assume part of the reason you read this blog is because you want to know how I do and/or would spend mine and why.

Why am I writing this? Integrity, plain and simple. People whom I believe had only my best interests at heart have told me that I probably shouldn't, and while I so respect and value their viewpoints, I came to this decision on my own. If I didn't feel like I'd be attacked for writing this post, I'd have done it a long time ago (read: a day or two, HA!) I should not have felt threatened enough to not be able to say what I feel. When I wanted to write about Nyx? I got my stuff together and did it. I'm expecting backlash, expecting people to say I'm 'perpetuating drama', but that seems to be a phrase that's only thrown around this way in the indie world and it's wrong. It's part of the reason so many people don't take indie seriously. If calling a business owner on poor behavior is 'perpetuating drama,' then I don't see what's wrong with doing just that. You'd do it for a commercial brand wouldn't you? I know I would.

As a blogger, I know I might influence some of your purchasing decisions, and I don't want to play with your money by not posting something I feel is incredibly relevant to the way I spend mine. This ordeal shifted my viewpoint to the place where I'd never spend my money with OHWTO, and if it would do the same thing for you (it might not, and I repeat that's fine with me), you deserve this information. The fact that there are so many people who will probably say that this information doesn't deserve to be out there only reaffirms the fact that I feel justified in stepping away from all of the indie brands that I feel have represented themselves unprofessionally in the past (and in this situation) and re-evaluate any and all involvement with them.

That includes any company who posted statements about it being unfair that people are stepping away from indie because of this. I, personally, find those to be unprofessional and in poor taste. If a customer chooses to step away from indie because they feel there is too much 'drama' and not enough professionalism? You aren't going to convince them to come back by being unprofessional, acting like you've been personally jilted at the loss of business, whether or not that happens to be the case. In my own opinion, it's poor public presentation plain and simple. Many customers do not like to see companies bash other brands (whether large or independent), nor do many customers appreciate being told how or where to spend their money. I will not be purchasing from any brands/company owners whom I've personally seen do this in the future.

Is it bad of me to post something that happened in a private group? It wasn't a private group. It was a 'private group'. Anyone with a passing interest could (and as far as I know still can) get in, barring maybe Jasmine of High Voltage. The link was posted in various blogs, punctuated with 'join this group for info' and things of the like.

Even after all of this, people were still being encouraged to join the group to draw their own conclusions. It is essentially a public group closed off to only a few people.

There are times, I'm sure, when every business owner or representative of a company wants to lash out at a rude person. I know I have. I've never actually done so in my life. I'd lose my job and rightly so.

And you know what? Yesterday somebody contacted me with some screenshots that I think illustrate my point exactly.

Click to enlarge
OHWTO has lost not only the business of potential customers, but the business of a current one over this.

If you are going to engage people visibly? You aren't just alienating the people you argue with. You're alienating customers and clients who are watching. Every time you say something in public through means people may associate with your business, if someone might even have the slight chance of taking issue with it, you should expect your business to be influenced. Some people may want to buy from you more, others less--it does go both ways.

You being a business owner and my being a consumer? It's your responsibility to calculate and account for that risk, not mine. You don't lose business because a blogger writes a post about what you did. You lose business because you did it.

Click to enlarge
While I initially thought that I'd be able to publish all of the inevitable negative comments, the sheer volume is getting out of hand for me. While I hoped to get them all up and responded to, at this point doing so would take longer than writing a whole new post. My blog is not a public forum and I can censor anything I choose to. Please feel free to discuss any issues you have with this post elsewhere. I will be publishing any comments that I deem appropriate, deleting any that aren't so. Thank you.
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