Fail Kitty doesn’t usually stalk the same prey two times in a row, but when the prey is Bank of America and the level of fail is so incredibly massive, she can’t help but come out with both paws slashing. The most recent fail BoA has been trying to deal with is the fact that it became public they have a number of employees that were signing foreclosure documents on people’s homes – and never taking even the first second to see if the information was up to date or even accurate to begin with.
Of course BoA did what they always do when news like this starts making it’s way around the Internet, which is their best “What you talking ‘bout Willis?” Gary Coleman impression before saying in soothing tones – move along…. Nothing to see here….
Maybe BoA didn’t do the Gary Coleman thing on their social networks, but they sure as heck tried to move people along. They tried diverting attention to what is about to become a third fail – their new account fees to penetrate account holders with instead of debit card fees. Wait and watch – the fail is imminent. At any rate – BoA tried to sweep this under the carpet – who wants to admit they are screwing up mortgage foreclosures by the thousands? They followed the classic BoA pattern for damage control:
- Ignore (we can’t hear you! Na na na na !)
- Get indignant – Proof? Show us your proof if you have any!
- Okay, you have proof – but you’re totally not understanding it. This complex stuff!
- Small admission – Okay, you do understand it – but let’s just forget about this. *waves hand* This is not the story you’re looking for. Write something about Peyton Manning instead…
- You’re still here? Crap… okay.. Mistakes were made, but they weren’t that bad and it was very isolated.
- Full admission – Double damn! Okay .. We’re totally incompetent. We screwed thousands of people out of millions of dollars and wrongfully evicted and seized property. (Good thing those people are too broke and homeless now to take us to court!)
- The back step – Wait a second .. We didn’t really say that. What we said is mistakes were made and our very top people will be looking into it so that everyone gets an amicable resolution. Except maybe for the people we wrongfully foreclosed on and sold their house already… Oops!
Here’s the real scoop. BoA gave titles to employees who were untrained in dealing with mortgages or mortgage law so that they could then authorize them to handle mortgages. Why? It was cheaper than paying for qualified individuals. It sped up the process of getting foreclosure proceedings rolling and resolved since they thought the proper way of handling it took too long and was losing them money. BoA is just one of the 5 major lenders nailed doing this – Wells Fargo and JP Morgan were running the same game and will pay a portion of the $25 billion settlement being worked out too.
The thing is – BoA was the absolute WORST offender. They were the only one that even tried to play the innocent card. When all of your conspirators admit guilt and say “let’s fix this and make it as right as we can” (mostly for PR reasons) it is a good indicator you should follow suit 0 especially if you are the most prolific offender. It was BoA that had one employee who was signing an unbelievable 20,000 mortgage documents per day – maybe not on her own – but her name was appearing at that rate consistently. How could she review 100,000 case each week?
For real? Yes, for real. Here is BoA fail part 2!
BoA, after admitting mistakes and finally saying “Okay, let’s fix this!” then started wave two of the denials. “We made mistakes – but not the mistakes you are making public!” Why would they do that? Well, if you knew what employees were admitting to doing under oath, you’d never put a dollar in their bank or even use one of their ATMs in an emergency. Here is what BoA denied happened – and then later admitted to but claimed was greatly exaggerated.
BoA suspended foreclosures about 2-3 weeks to investigate claims of willful neglect. They concluded they had no problems, but would resubmit 100,000 affidavits related to incomplete foreclosures. That is when HUD stepped in and said bull*hit. Not out loud, but you know they had to be saying it under their breath if nothing else.
HUD didn’t give away all their findings, but we do have some tasty morsels.
- BoA – as expected, was charged with hindering the investigation.
- BoA was hit with a failure to comply with subpoenas
- BoA failed to make current employees available for questioning and, allegedly, claimed no knowledge as to the whereabouts of past employees needed for questioning.
- When employees were available, BoA demanded their attorneys be present, and then slapped gag orders on employees not allowing them to answer any questions about the bank.
- BoA foreclosed on homes that were not in arrears on payments.
- BoA evicted people from homes they were current on.
- In a few isolated cases, BoA foreclosed on homes they didn’t even hold a mortgage on anymore!
- BoA also foreclosed on the wrong homes at times because no one verified the address on the documents for accuracy.
For negligent practices that placed in the neighborhood (low estimate) of $25 billion of homes wrongfully in foreclosure proceedings because they hired unqualified, untrained individuals (might as well have been monkeys trained to hold a pen and scrawl a ’signature’) as mortgage department VP’s to sign thousands upon thousands of documents they didn’t understand without reviewing them, BoA gets a major league FAIL. For denying it publicly, then admitting to it, and then denying it one more time before being fully exposed and admitting to just parts of the scam – DOUBLE FAIL!
BoA, for shame, for shame…. Fail Kitty does not approve!
Bank of America is the target of Fail Kitty’s ire this week after an SMM fail of the highest order. Banks are an easy target to pick on currently, but the level of fail exhibited by BoA in handling the case of Arthur Livingston who resides in South Carolina merits special mention. Long before the social media fail fell into place, the fail began when Mr. Livingstone was declared dead.
In 2009, according to Bank of America, Arthur Livingston of Prosperity, SC, ceased to exchange carbon dioxide. He took a dirt nap. He kicked the bucket. The only problem is that no one told Arthur he was deceased. Being dead, BoA did what they always do and reported him as deceased to the three major credit reporting bureaus. Once you are dead with them, you are further gone than if the coroner started prepping you for the casket.
Further complicating the issue, Livingston sold his house in 2009. In October of 2011, he went to BoA to get a loan to build a new home. He had an account with them for 14 years at that point, had been paying off his credit card in full each month since they declared him dead, and had been maintaining accounts in good standing with BoA – all while they claimed he was dead. That was the reason the gave him when they denied his loan application – dead men don’t get loans!
He tried everything he could with his local branch, but they insisted he was dead even though he had convincing proof of being alive. He emailed BoA CEO Brian Moynihan whom never answered him. Each time he got a standard email from a lackey stating his case was being reviewed and that they took the problem seriously and would be escalating it. Livingston did this dance for 90 days before contacting the media to see if that kind of pressure might generate some action – and did it ever!
WISTV-10 ran the story. That netted the huge action of being contacted by some BoA representative that said he wanted to “touch base” and assure him that the right people were being put on the case to resolve the issue. In the meantime, Livingston has no credit. The credit bureaus declared him deceased. He has a score of less than zero because he doesn’t even exist to them anymore. Even if they believe he is alive, they cannot begin scoring him again until BoA reports him as alive – which they have yet to do for some unknown reason. Even then, the credit bureaus have to start him over from scratch again because they are not allowed to assign his prior credit score because of the years long gap in activity.
BoA has refused to comment publicly on the issue anymore. They defer all requests to a PR department and then lose them or send a standard letter that the issue is being looked into and no comment is possible at this time. Meanwhile, they are still happy to scrape fees off of Livingston’s two checking accounts and two college tuition savings plans for his children. Livingston has said he’d like to take his business elsewhere except that if he does before the issue is resolved it may never get fixed and he will remain a ghost.
For declaring a live man dead, then passing him off BoA gets a fail. For then refusing to acknowledge it after being called out in the press and, as many people believe, stretching out a resolution for what is now beyond 6 months with no relief in sight as punishment, BoA gets an EPIC Fail and a very disapproving two paws down from Fail Kitty.
Fails in the social networking world don’t always lay at the feet of mega-corporations or the very famous. Sometimes it is a regular Joe/Jane that does something that is so filled with fail that you have to wonder if their mother had any kids who lived. Yeah, that is incredibly harsh to say, but sometimes the magnitude of fail is such that there is no other explanation. Today, we’ll take a look at some very well known social networking fails as well as a few you likely missed – and this isn’t about prolonging their torture. It is so you can see what they did wrong, how it impacted them and know what not to do to wind up in the same position.
In 2009, a young lady from California named Connor Riley – someone that basically grew up in the digital age – landed a job with Cisco. For most 22 year olds a job with good pay, benefits and plenty of upside would be a dream, particularly given how bad the economy is. Instead of going online and bragging about scoring a primo job, she decided to go online and bitch about it – and keep in mind she hadn’t worked day one yet . Not even minute 1.
Her tweet that she didn’t know if the “fatty paycheck” was worth how much she knew she’d be “hating the work.” The thing about Cisco is that they have people that monitor mentions of their company. They do monitor their brand online. A Cisco employee saw the tweet and decided to pass it on to HR. HR saw it and passed it on up the line. Before she ever started the job she was fired from the job. In 2010, Riley landed a job with Bittorrent as the rumor goes, and hopefully has enjoyed that seeing as they are pretty close to being extinct – while Cisco is still going strong comparatively speaking.
Anyone remember NFL running back Larry Johnson, formerly of the KC Chiefs? His Twitter tirade referring to people’s “broke ass mom birthed you broke”, another fellow “wit your fag pic” along with the usual references to people being little girls or and just so much crap – spelled so incorrectly even for Twitter shorthand – that I’m not sure he left any group un-offended.
The team wasn’t happy about him doing that – no one that makes money from the type of people he ripped mercilessly wants to be anywhere near that kind of mess. He became toxic property within minutes. Not only did the people he worked for and with want nothing to do with him, 32,000 Chiefs fans petitioned the team to immediately release him – and they did.
In a matter of just over two years, Johnson went from a pro Bowl player with superstar written all over him to rushing for a mere 208 yards and no touchdowns before finally being released from his 4th team in 2 ½ seasons. No team has even entertained giving Johnson a shot at making a roster spot since.
A woman over in the UK, who to this day remains unknown to all, decided to rip her boss on Facebook calling him a “pervy wanker” that made her do “sh*t stuff”. What she forgot however is that she added her boss, the alleged pervy wanker, to her friend list so he was able to see her mini tirade along with everyone else. His response to her – on that thread no less, was priceless.
He first pointed out that although he didn’t prance like a queen, he was gay and it was no secret. He had no reason to take any pervy interest in her. Also, the “sh*t stuff” she was asked to do was her job – and she didn’t do it well. Finally he wrapped up reminding her that she was 2 weeks shy of finishing her trial period – which was now not necessary as she was being let go.
Just for fun, who can forget Kevin Colvin, AKA Pixie Fail, who got busted in a rather embarrassing way. Colvin was working as an intern at a bank when he called boss to tell him that he needed a day off at the end of October due to a “family emergency”. As you can guess, the only emergency Colvin was facing was figuring out how to get to a Halloween party – it was that time of the year. In almost no time at all, Colvin was busted.
He went to a party dressed as a full on fairy – or maybe it was supposed to be a pixie. Either way he was holding a wand of some sort in one hand and can of beer in the other. Did I forget to mention people took pictures of him – lots of pictures. They went all over his friend’s Facebook pages. Worse that that, they were time-stamped so there was no arguing these were old pics from last year.
They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last. Fail Kitty has a whole tub filled with social networking and social media fail. The big players make mistakes and the little guys make mistakes. The famous do it just the same as the guy next door. If you take nothing from this today but one thing, make it be this one guiding mantra: It is not only possible to over-share online, it is a very bad idea as well.
Corporations that have supported the Susan G. Komen foundation over the years have quickly learned a valuable lesson about social media management – the company you keep does matter! Just like in real life, you are often judged by the company you keep. After the Komen Foundation announced they were going to pull all financial support from Planned Parenthood on the basis that PP was under investigation for accusations of illegally using taxpayer money to provide abortions, a storm started brewing.
The Komen foundation has since reversed course and will continue to help fund breast cancer screenings and services through PP, but for many, the damage has been done. The Komen Foundation has plenty of PR repair to do on their own, but so to do many of their corporate giving partners. Seeing how different companies have responded to the situation, to keep it simple just on Facebook, provides us with a valuable lesson in SMM – and a handbook in how to stay off Fail Kitty’s radar.
- Microsoft is sanitizing their wall. Posts made directly to their wall questioning their support for SKG are removed. They have not however been able to keep the comments hammering them for their SKG support out of the comments on their own posts. They are not addressing the issue in any way – just deleting post after post and blocking users that try posting SKG related threads multiple times. Their wall looks mostly nice and clean, but covering up is not really handling the issue.
- Nordstroms is getting hit hard, and it is a dual whammy for them. Not only are they having all their posts flooded with SGK related negativity, they are getting flooded with angry posts over people tired of them getting piles of notices from their Pinterest updates who are reporting them for spam and TOS violations for improper use of boards. Nordstroms is taking the lazy route – they are pulling new threads related to SGK, but they aren’t responding to the comments slamming them. They just keep posting fresh stuff and pretending they don’t see it.
- Payless Shoe Source, who usually does it right when it comes to SMM, have done nothing! Their page has been submerged in negativity. They not only aren’t answering the posts or deleting them, they aren’t even managing the account for over 48 hours now. They went dead in the water. Not a good strategy at all. This was a huge surprise – we’ve pointed to Payless in the past as an example of how to do Facebook right.
- Otis Spunkmeyer took a minimalist approach. They addressed the issue one time. They stated they were looking into everything regarding their relationship with SGK, said they would make a decision on what to do going forward, but that they were not commenting further at this time. That was all it took to keep people from piling on them. Their FB page went back to business as usual almost immediately.
- Pepperidge Farm actually did cut ties with SGK a month ago, but SGK has not yet removed them from their corporate sponsor list, so PF got a dose of it all as well. They decided to answer each post personally. Doing that looks professional, it explains they when and why of how their relationship with SGK ended, and it builds good relationships with the people they engage. Aside from one brain damaged troll that either can’t read or won’t quit because it is all he has to do with his life, the Pepperidge Farm page is rolling along smoothly.
Five different companies with five different approaches to the same problem. One is filled with more tiger blood and win than Charlie Sheen ever dreamed of. Another is weak but acceptable. Two are oblivious and while not full of fail, they certainly have a dose of fail around the edges. Payless however, of all companies, is full of FAIL on this one.
- Old Navy had NO flak on their wall, which made me suspicious. I posted a query asking for a comment, and it was promptly removed. They did a better mop-up job than Microsoft or Nordstrom’s did – they must have pulled whole comment threads if anyone posted a reply that mentioned the issue. So they look squeaky clean, but elsewhere are getting called out for their refusal to respond.
- Energizer stated they are donating $50K to a local hospital to be earmarked for mammograms for underserved women. They did not say what their action in the matter of supporting SGK would be.
- The Republic of Tea issued a statement saying they were passing on all of their customers concerns directly to SGK, and were going to review the advisability of their own “Sip for the Cure” campaign in light of recent events.
No one ever intends to make a social media disaster, but they happen all the time – and Qantas is living proof of that. While the fallout from the latest social media debacle from Qantas has finally died down, that doesn’t mean we should forget about it because it offers some great lessons about what not to do if you are a social media manager. For those that somehow missed the Qantas story, settle in for a lesson in fail.
Last November, Qantas decided that it would be a good idea to run a contest centered around asking customers for their “dream luxury in-flight experience.” That sounds like a good idea – other companies do similar promotions all the time and have great success. What other companies do that Qantas failed to get a grip on is research. What does research have to do with a dream travel experience contest? When it came to the Qantas campaign, research was the difference between Charlie Sheen style tiger blood winning and winding up here on Fail Kitty – it’s a huge difference.
If Qantas did just the most basic research, they would have realized they had employees on strike when they launched the online contest. They would have realized that they had literal plane loads of paying passengers sitting in the terminals with no plane to board. They would have realized that grounded customers + a mildly moderated (at best) online dream vacation contest was a recipe for disaster.
When you’re stuck in an airport waiting for a flight what do you do? Some wander around, a brave few try to nap amongst all the commotion. Some read or talk to whoever is next to them. These days though, a lot of people take to the web via whatever mobile device they are armed with. If you are stuck waiting for a flight, odds are you are going to check up on your airline since it isn’t one plane stuck on the ground but all of them.
You Google Qantas, and you see news of the problems their SMM somehow missed or decided didn’t matter because he had a schedule to meet or maybe he was told to just do it anyway – no one is saying even to this day. The next thing you see in the news feed is the Qantas contest about a dream vacation – just tweet it #Qantas luxury… Bad idea… So terribly bad…
That spread like wildfire through the terminals which produced some incredibly ugly real-time tweets about what Qantas could do, how they could do it, and where they could shove it when they did it. Anything like that gets attention and before long – viral bad PR death! Qantas really stepped in it.
This social media fail could have been avoided so easily. It is a basic axiom that you make sure all your ducks are in a row before you launch a campaign. Would a restaurant launch a prime rib special and not have prime rib? Would a car dealership have a $3,000 off sale on every car on the lot if they had no cars? Obviously not, but that is exactly what Qantas did – they launched a travel contest without a plane in the air! Research, vet what you find, and then do it again. Social media management 101 stuff – don’t offer what you don’t have!
All together – EPIC FAIL!
Even though Dolce & Gabbana wish it would go away, the social network activity surrounding the total mess the Tsim Sha Tsui store became viral. The problem didn’t begin online, but the use of social networks to alert everyone to the problem and D&G’s total failure to respond is why they make the Fail Kitty list of naughty, naughty companies.
As the story goes, about 2 weeks ago some locals were taking pictures outside of the D&G flagship store at Tsim Sha Tsui. One of D&G’s security force approached the photographer, who was a local, and informed him that only mainland Chinese and foreign tourists were allowed to take photos outside of the store. You can see where this is going, right?
Within about 3 hours, the story spread by text and calls and tweets until a Facebook page popped up calling for the boycott of the store. Initially, a couple thousand likes of the page came in – then it grew really fast. It spread to blogs, it was tweeted, it hit mainstream news in Hong Kong and then spread around the world in 72 hours. As of now, the Facebook page has over 24,000 likes and is still growing.
Through social networks, a protest was arranged for the storefront that drew somewhere around 1,000 people. D&G got flat out torched everywhere – not just in Hong Kong and not just on Facebook. In a feeble attempt to do some form of damage control, D&G released the following statement, printed in Forbes:
“A well-known mainlander, possibly a government official, was reportedly shopping in the store last month when he noticed people outside taking photographs. A complaint was made to D&G because the customer feared netizens would link the shopping spree to corruption. Then D&G instigated the ban. D&G’s statement strongly denied making any racist or derogatory comments. Controversial statements reported in the Hong Kong press have not been made by Dolce & Gabbana nor its staff.”
That was really about all they did. No apology. No offer to make things right. Just a denial – and placing the blame on “netizens” in a nice roundabout way. That sparked wave 2 which just got more people mad and caused D&G to basically have to pull a temporary shutdown of many of their social sites and pages because they not only waited too long to process the flames they got, they couldn’t keep up.
They could have controlled the problem if they reacted online early and addressed the issue. They didn’t. They could have saved tons of time and money sanitizing the comments that appeared un-moderated and live if they had actual mods – but that didn’t happen. Instead, they allowed a terrible localized problem to spread world wide.
All together now – – – FAIL! (Don’t you love the look of disgust on Zoe’s kitty face?)
Update – According to NY Fashion, a Hong Kong store has poked a little fun at Dolce’s expense – see the inside joke here!