Back in my day, if you bought a refrigerator and had it delivered to your home, only to find that it didn't refrigerate properly, you were at the mercy of the company to come to your house and replace it. In the social media era, that is still pretty much the case, as criminal defense lawyer and blogger Scott Greenfield has learned the hard way over the past couple months. However, in the year 2011, social media such as Twitter can at least provide an aggrieved consumer, his broken appliance, and their collective Twitter followers with a way to apply some pressure on a company to make things right.
To make a very long story short, this summer Greenfield ordered a KitchenAid refrigerator. He quickly realized that try as it might, his refrigerator was unable to get to the standard temperature of 37 degrees -- 44 degrees cool was all that it could muster.
Over Greenfield's objections, KitchenAid unsuccessfully tried to repair his newly installed refrigerator (he wanted a new one). Greenfield ultimately received an email that (a) blamed the refrigerator's cooling problem on the "ambient temperature" of Greenfield's house, and (b) essentially told him he would get nothing and like it.
This triggered a blog post and some shots fired by Greenfield on his own Twitter feed about the subject, but nothing really happened for a while. More recently, Greenfield says, KitchenAid finally agreed that a refrigerator that will not cool things is defective, and had a new one delivered. Regrettably, the delivery men dropped the refrigerator in the process, leaving Greenfield with a functioning but very banged up refrigerator (no word on how refrigerator #2 was able to overcome the "ambient temperature" in Greenfield's home).
When KitchenAid failed to follow up on Greenfield's subsequent requests that it provide him with a functioning AND undamaged refrigerator, his refrigerator apparently decided it could not remain silent any longer. On Oct. 4, Greenfield's refrigerator opened a Twitter account (@SHGrefrigerator) and began pleading with KitchenAid to fix it: "@KitchenAidUSA Help me. Please, HELP ME!"
@SHGrefrigerator's pleas for help did not go unnoticed by Greenfield's Twitter followers, who rallied behind the appliance. Click here to see the complete stream of hundreds of tweets by the refrigerator, friends of the refrigerator and even @KitchenAidUSA's customer support people (who are now desperately tweeting every hour or so to tell Greenfield that they are working on the issue).
Intrigued by a household appliance that has its own Twitter account that has already been featured on Above the Law, I reached out to @SHGrefrigerator and scored an exclusive interview. Here is our actual email exchange:
Q: Hello @SHGRefrigerator! You are probably the most famous refrigerator -- or household appliance of any kind, for that matter -- in the world right now. How does that feel?
A: It would feel better if I wasn't in such dire need of repair. It's embarrassing to be so well known when you're not looking your best. By the way, you ended up in my spam filter. Hope you didn't get too warm in there.
Q: Which SHG refrigerator are you? The one that sat in Greenfield's kitchen for weeks not keeping things cold or the replacement fridge that was dropped and damaged by delivery men? Or are you a composite entity, representing them both?
A: Spiritually, I believe we are one. But I was recently dropped on my head, so I may be suffering from a traumatic brain injury.
Q: You recently took to Twitter to beg Kitchen Aid to repair you. How has your experience been on Twitter -- is it an effective tool for broken appliances like yourself? Do you write your own material or do you use a ghost-Twitterer?
A: It has been effective in the sense that more and more people are becoming aware of KitchenAid's poor customer service and shoddy appliances. It has been ineffective in getting KitchenAid to repair me. On the upside, I've befriended a nice toaster and am dating a defective freezer I met via Twitter. I would like to do my own Twittering, but the lack of fingers makes me a terrible typist. I've had no choice but to outsource.
Q: Let's be honest -- do you really even want to work or is it a pretty nice gig just sitting in Greenfield's kitchen with no responsibilities?
A: Apparently you've never tried to live with Scott when he's angry. This is the worst gig I've ever had. Would you care for a warm beverage?