It’s happened to all of us. Your plane is delayed. You’re going to miss your connection. They lost your bag. You’re sitting on the tarmac, but they can’t let you into the airport because your gate is occupied. There are unforeseen mechanical troubles. The flight is cancelled because the pilot is revealed to be a four-year-old mule deer.
If you’re a conventional angry person, you respond to any one of these inconveniences with the phrase that no human being working in customer service has ever cared about: I’ll never fly this airline again.
Newsflash, conventional angry person. This airline is a multi-million dollar business with thousands of employees. They aren’t going to go under because you refuse to buy another set of discounted tickets to Phoenix.
Plus, you will fly this airline again. You live in Pocatello, and you’re trying to see your sister in Des Moines, and you know you’ll have to fly Spirit again, because they’re the only ones dumb enough to offer this route. The next time you’re buying airline tickets, you’re going to sit on Orbitz, and you’re going to look at the other options, and you’re going to realize that the other airlines connect through a tiny airport in Wisconsin whose meal options are limited to vending machine Cheetos, and you’re going to book the very same flight on the very same airline. And then you’ll think: At least that gate agent I yelled at won’t know about this.
And then there’s the other factor: the moment you utter that sentence, I’ll never fly this airline ever again, there’s someone at a different airport, with a different problem, saying the very same thing to a different airline. You two cancel each other out. This is how Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW still have customers: all their buyers are people who swore they’d never buy a car from one of the other brands ever again.
But if you’re a celebrity, you have an entirely different option. You can complain about the company on Twitter.
Here is the thought process, if you’re a Celebrity Twitter Complainer. Some company has wronged you. You’re sitting there, doing your thing, and your flight is delayed, or your receipt won’t print, or the credit card machine is down, or they’re out of herpes cream. You know that you can’t throw a hissy fit right there in the store, because the guy behind the counter has never even heard of Gossip Girl, and even if he knew Who You Are, that wouldn’t make the receipt printer work. It’s not like there’s one receipt printer for normal people, which gets jammed all the time, and one for famous people, which prints things on parchment.
So you take to Twitter.
“CVS is the most AWFUL store ever,” you tell your 100,000 loyal followers, of whom roughly 12,000 are spam accounts trying to promote a dating site that links humans with pachyderms. “Nothing in CVS EVER works.
And then you think to your celebrity self: Look how cool I am. Now they’ll HAVE to respond, or risk all the bad PR that comes with public celebrity disapproval. Look at how much POWER I have! Then you stand there in front of receipt printer guy, thinking that you just got him fired, and goddammit, he deserves it, if he gets paid the princely sum of nine bucks an hour and can’t even make a receipt print.
Meanwhile, what I’m thinking is: You are the most entitled asshole in the long, sad history of entitled assholes.
You see, when a celebrity complains on Twitter, they know exactly how much power they wield. They know tens of thousands of people will see their Tweet, re-tweet it, favorite it, tell their friends. They know the PR people for the company involved will see it. They know they will probably get better service as a result of it.
When a celebrity says something like The Starbucks on La Cienega Road is so slow, they don’t actually mean that the Starbucks on La Cienega Road is slow. They mean: I am very important, Starbucks PR people. Figure out a way to make me happy. A celebrity Twitter complaint is the modern-day equivalent of screaming “Don’t you know who I am?” to the guy behind the cash register.
Well, Celebrity Twitter Complainers, here’s a newsflash: we all have problems like this. It isn’t just you. It sucks for all of us when Home Depot misses the delivery window. It sucks for all of us when the roadside assistance people take five hours to arrive. It sucks for all of us when we choose to go to a nice restaurant, such as Applebee’s, and we get bitten by a giant poisonous spider in the waiting area. The difference is, the rest of us don’t scream like a petulant teenager in a BMW dealer who says their dad will have the salesperson fired.
And so, here’s some advice if you’re a celebrity planning to complain about a company on Twitter: just don’t. It’s classless. It’s awful. It’s pathetic. Unless, of course, that company is Comcast. Then you should complain until a Comcast Killing Squad appears at your door to murder you. They will then charge late fees to your estate.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.