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Maxvoltar - The broken watch

Maxvoltar is the personal weblog of Tim Van Damme, a freelance interface designer at Made by Elephant.

50° 54' 47" N, 4° 25' 50" E


The broken watch

Funny story:

A guy’s watch stopped working, and his wife takes it to the local jeweler. Jeweler tells the wife the watch is broken and she should buy a new one. Wife goes home with a catalog of watches. Once home, guy replaces the battery of the watch, and suddenly, it works again. Guy posts a tweet:

Juwelier [censored] in Tienen is een schurk: zegt tegen Ingrid dat horloge stuk is, terwijl ik ze thuis “repareer” met nieuwe batterij.

Translated:

Jeweler [censored] in Tienen is a fraud: Tells Ingrid [the wife] the watch is broken, while I can “fix” it at home by placing a new battery.

Tweet gets indexed by Google, the jeweler notices it’s the 3rd result when Googling for Juwelier [censored], and he calls the cops to make a complaint. Guy gets a notice from the cops to remove the tweet, or legal steps would be taken. Guy tries contacting the jeweler directly, but he refuses any contact. Guy removes tweet and writes a blogpost about it (not mentioning the jeweler’s name).

And then, the shit hit the fan.

I think every Belgian Twitter user started tweeting about the story, many not censuring the jeweler’s name. The Belgian media follows Twitter very close, and within a day, the story was featured on all mayor Belgian newspaper websites.

I think this is a perfect example of “the old way” of doing business, of people not understanding that although very young, the internet has more power than any of us can imagine. What the jeweler should’ve done was contacting the unhappy client, and talking about it mano-a-mano. With a simple apology, this could all have been fixed. Now, everyone in Belgium reading the news knows about the watch that wasn’t malfunctioning, but the jeweler that was.

16Comments

  • Joel Helin

    2926 days ago

    Great story. I’ve heard something similar but from the US. You can’t do bad business and get away with it anymore.

  • Simon

    2926 days ago

    I love the way you censor the jewelers name in the text and link to the Twitter search query. :)

  • Maykel Loomans

    2926 days ago

    This is one of the reasons for my love for the web, and loathe seeing these acts by police and other authorities.

    What this makes me wonder is, what will the police do? Will they issue a public apology? I wonder how belgians look to this situation, the dutch would quite easily cry out shame, because they have something new to criticize.

    I’ve myself posted quite some tweets about the local Apple Reseller and their awful service, which resulted in quite a few folks going elsewhere for their purchase. No police on my doorstep though.

  • Maykel Loomans

    2926 days ago

    And I just started wondering if someone in the maxvoltar fanbase will deface the jeweler’s site.

    [/evil]

  • Ben Bodien

    2926 days ago

    And the moral of the story is: “don’t be a dickface.”

  • Dan

    2926 days ago

    Word of mouth now travels at the speed of light.

    This reminds me of Jeremy Keith’s Talk like a pirate day stunt where google indexed basically the whole internet in pirate form and some pirate speak versions were ranking higher than the legitimate versions. Ooops!

  • Pjtr

    2926 days ago

    It’s called the Streisand effect and it’s about time people get a clue…

  • Heinrich Ferreira

    2926 days ago

    Great story and like you said, it shows how powerful the internet and social media can be. This article on the Guardian website is another prime example but on an even larger scale!

  • Joackim Penti

    2926 days ago

    Thank you for marking this story. I caught it by following you on Twitter.

    This story is so common all around the globe so I translated it to Danish, blogged (http://blog.conduct.dk) about it and it will be fed to Twitter later.

    Markets are conversations traveling with the speed of light. There is no turning back. Thank God.

    Hope it’s ok Max, if not let me know and I will “delete” it.

  • Tim Van Damme

    2926 days ago

    • @simon: “Oops!”
    • @Maykel Loomans: Apparently, the police only gave a warning, but that still gives the wrong image of what they’re allowed to do in cases like this.
    • @Ben Bodien: That pretty much sums it up yeah :)
    • @Pjtr: Thanks for linking to that!
    • @Joackim Penti: No problem, thanks for translating!
  • Martin Williams

    2926 days ago

    So…. how do you know the original Tweet was genuine? Could it have been sent by a competitor? An enemy?

    Just wondering.

  • Tim Van Damme

    2926 days ago

    @Martin Williams: The guy who originally tweeted it is a friend of me ;)

  • Martin Williams

    2926 days ago

    Hi Tim,

    Sorry I wasn’t clear. What I meant was, how does anyone know the Tweet was genuine?

    Sure bad service is not on. Nobody likes a dickface or a rip off artist. My question though is how can anyone (other than friends of the Tweeter) know what really happened?

    Maykel is asking if anyone will deface the jewellers site. Makes me nervous that people could want to do stuff like that based on an unsubstantiated (unless you personally know the Twitterer) Tweet.

    Came across this today http://bit.ly/1oT42R (not directly reletated but relevant imho) which got me thinking about the whole ‘wisdom of the crowd’ stuff.

    What do you think?

  • Joackim Penti

    2926 days ago

    Techcrunch takes it up. Run away train..

    http://uk.techcrunch.com/2009/10/15/angry-belgian-jeweler-demands-tweet-deletion-learns-about-streisand-effect/

  • Tim Van Damme

    2925 days ago

    @Martin Williams: I don’t agree with Maykel’s comment about defacing the jeweler’s website. That’s one step too far. I do think it was good that people retweeted the whole story, as it shouldn’t be allowed to force someone to remove something they said online. It’s a free world, no?

  • Brad Pyne

    2915 days ago

    I’ve found a lot of people always take the hard way in these situations. Amazing the trouble the Jeweler went through that could have all easily been avoided.

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