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Online Consumer Advocacy. Any point?

In todays Irish Times Pricewatch column (subscription required), Conor Pope examines the growth of online consumer advocacy. You can click here to read the article on Value Ireland also.

Conor had a few questions for us, some of which were used in the article. Of particular interest was the following question, where Conor used part of our response.

Do you think the Web is an effective way of challenging businesses and airing consumer grievances?

Yes and no. It’s an effective way for airing consumer grievances and bringing certain matters to the attention of the broader population. The fact that certain websites are now constantly monitored by the media also helps in this regard.

However, at this present moment in time, the internet is a pretty much useless way of challenging business. Most businesses pay no heed to items published about them on the internet. While companies may follow up on blatantly inaccurate comments about them on various website, it seems that most companies aren’t all that bothered about any negative commentary on the internet.

But then again, there seem to be many Irish companies who shrug off any negative commentary in the broader media as well.

It’s easy for them to do so – Irish consumers don’t seem to punish companies for any indiscretions. As we’ve constantly highlighted on www.valueireland.com, about 1.3m Irish consumers have been overcharged by in excess of €111m by upwards of 20 of Ireland biggest companies.

But all these companies still have hundreds of thousands of customers, and are still making hundreds of millions off those consumers every year.

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