Using the Internet to air consumer gripes is an effective tool, but one that’s still in the early stages of chaos.
Recently there was action taken against the student loan lender Sallie Mae**. When borrowers hit financial troubles and were unable to pay, Sallie Mae was granting temporary deferrments, but still charging interest on the loan anyway! An online campaign launched that successfully stopped that practice. It shows the power of collective action in social media.
That said, nternet action has a long way before it’s grown up. There are plenty of consumer complaint sites out there–most just serving as a place to vent.
But now, a new site has launched that aims to do more than just allow customers to let off steam. GripeVine.com is all about effective problem solving, providing a forum for customers and businesses to actually work out their differences. The customer gets resolution, and the business’ reputation no longer has to suffer publicly. The loop is closed, and everyone wins!
(**As a complete aside: Never, ever take out a private student loan for college or grad school. Not ever. If you need a private loan after exhausting your borrowing under the federal loan system, find another way to pay. Private student loans are nothing less than poison to your wallet!)