Keith Clark, a 29-year-old embroidery fan, ordered a new debit card from Santander after being a victim of fraud. He was told it would take an astonishing 8-10 days for the new card to reach him, which was bad enough. However, after waiting for 19 days for the card to show up, he finally ran out of patience, and chose a particularly unusual form of protest: Clark stitched his own debit card.
He shared it on Santander's Facebook page, along with his views about the standards of customer service. He said that after waiting weeks, speaking to customer services staff, asking people in branches and making a complaint, he had still received nothing, so he decided to do an experiment.
He explained: "I don't know how to make an actual debit card unfortunately. What I am good at though, really, really good at, is cross-stitching. Yes cross-stitching. I'm a cool guy." He said the previous night he had made a debit card from cross-stitch, and put it in the post by recorded delivery.
He said: "So to recap, I spent a couple of hours yesterday stitching for you, then I popped it in the post today, and Royal Mail assures me that it will be there tomorrow, along with a letter detailing all the ways that I'm mad at you for keeping me waiting. I make that three working days. Three days to make something, and get it to you."
The post went viral, and Santander started responding to Clark's initial complaint - and others raised by people adding to the thread.
A number of those who commented on the thread pointed out that 8-10 days is a ridiculous length of time to have to wait for a card, especially when others such as Metro and Barclays can produce a replacement card when you go into any branch. Clark himself pointed out that it would actually have been quicker for him to have changed banks entirely.
Unfortunately when Santander eventually responded to the post, it told Clark it couldn't get a card to him any faster, but could work with him to make sure he received the latest one that had been ordered, and asked him to email the company.
Clark responded with heart wrenching tales about his lack of a debit card, and how it had destroyed his chance of love because he couldn't pay to take a young woman to the cinema.
Santander said in a statement: "We've apologised to Keith for the delay in receiving his replacement card. A new card has been ordered and we're hoping this will be sewn up for him by the weekend. Excellent customer service is always our top priority and we're pleased Keith has accepted our apology, along with £50 for the inconvenience caused. To applaud Keith on his first class cross-stitch skills, and in recognition of the time and effort he has put in, we're making a donation to his local scout group."
It goes to show the power of social media in garnering a response from a company. While not everyone has the creativity and sewing skills to produce the kind of post that gets such a huge amount of attention, just Tweeting or telling our Facebook friends about a poor experience is a risk for companies.
It means they are more likely to respond quickly to complaints on social media and take them seriously - to protect their reputation. It doesn't necessarily mean the company will resolve the issue on the spot, but it does help get you to the front of the queue.
It's hardly surprising that 36% of people have used social media to make a complaint, and 65% said it had proved a better approach than ringing a call centre. This approach isn't just confined to younger people either: 27% of people aged over 65 have used it too.
But what do you think? Have you made a complaint through social media? And did it work? Let us know in the comments.
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