"Small business is a complex caper made all the more complex by clients who don't pay."
Yep sure is. So what to do when when of your customers doesn't pay. In the olden days you might think about using a Debt Collection service, or maybe sending a member of Hell's Angels around (who is usually the neighbour of a cousin of a friend), but not anymore. Now we can use the web to try and shame them into action.
It is an idea that stems from consumer-gripe sites like notgoodenough.org as well as countless blogs and discussion boards (try googling "company x" sucks) that let people vent their spleen over such things like crappy service or faulty products (remember hunterholdensucks.com?).
How the successful these on-line campaigns are at damaging the reputations of a company is difficult to judge. Sometimes all hell breaks loose; just ask the Kryponite bike lock folks. Sometimes they are just screaming rants. And how much notice do we take of negative feedback once we have decided to buy something anyway?
So it will be interesting to see whether Wisegirls is affected by Brett DeHoedt's (Media Mega Star and owner of Melbourne PR Company Hootville Communications) campaign to get them to cough up the $5857 dollars they owe him. He has a page titled "People who owe Hootville Money" where he lists clients who owe him for his services. A Shame File.
It's a great idea, classic Cluetrain stuff. Brett is using the Internet to get people talking about Wisegirls. And the news is bad. But why will it work for Brett?
Check out his site.. It's not like some on-line corporate glossy brochure shtick, it is a real site, run by real people using a real human voice. It is less formal, less professional (you know what I mean Brett!) and less anonymous that many PR company sites (it is almost as cool as Huh Corp's). It is written for us, not him. And that is why this will really hurt Wisegirls, it is real.
People will believe Brett.
Plus, non paying shonks like Danielle Paruit deserve to be shamed (And not just because their website is just like every other travel website; ie a bland on-line brochure).
I'd get a bank cheque written tomorrow Danielle...
Here is an email Danielle fired off to Brett:
"I note that you have updated your site in relation to me and Wisegirls and removed the text that was clearly abusive, including the threat of stalking me. I suspect that my fax to your solicitor dated 22 September might have had something to do with it.
I also note your invitation ( as from 23 Sep) for my comments - also a new initiative. I don't believe that this type of forum is neither appropriate nor professional for any dispute resolutions. As you know I have written to your solicitor, and am now waiting from information from you, to progress this matter.
I would appreciate the entire and unedited contents of this email being posted on your website.
Hmm, as Brett noted there is a paradox in Danielle's wants: Stop using the internet to air all this stuff, but make sure you publish what I have to say, in it's unedited entirety. Whatever.
You can follow the saga via the link above. It promises to get better, if Brett's parting words; "(It's) time to ramp up the campaign" are anything to go by.