/ Technology

You’d be a twit not to use Twitter

Woman and blackboard covered in the word 'Tweet'

I may be a bit behind the times, but I’m beginning to find Twitter really useful for communicating with businesses and deciding where to spend my money. In fact, it’s fast becoming my most essential consumer tool.

It all started when I bought a bike online a couple of months ago. This turned out to be a pretty bad idea as I started having problems with it almost immediately.

I contacted the company’s customer service department, but after a few emails (calls weren’t an option), which left me feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere, I decided to call them out on Twitter.

I used Twitter’s search function to find people mentioning the company and found a girl who’d tweeted asking if anyone had used the company. I responded, telling her about my negative experience.

The company clearly keeps an eye on what people are saying about them because within 24 hours they responded, asking for my email address. I told them I was sick of emailing them and sent my phone number instead – shortly after they called and we sorted out the problem.

Which? tweets for the greater good

Here at Which? we regularly use Twitter to help out consumers who are having trouble with companies. For example, we got Groupon to take down a misleading ad for Fatboy beanbags and offer refunds to those who had signed up for the deal.

Another of our followers tweeted to say that Envirofone – a phone recycling company – hadn’t sent him £200 for an iPhone he’d mailed them. After challenging the company on Twitter to send him the money he was owed, Envirofone finally followed through later that day.

Positive tweeting is useful too

But for me, Twitter isn’t just about venting or telling people about my negative experiences (although typing a 140-character rant does have a strangely therapeutic effect on me). It’s also about giving praise to help promote companies doing good things. If I have a good experience at a restaurant, for example, then I like to tweet about it so others can enjoy it.

When the people I follow on Twitter rant or rave about a business, I also take note; some of my decisions to go to shops and traders are now influenced by what I read on Twitter. And I’ve even started asking my followers to share their experiences of businesses or services which I’m considering using.

Clearly you need to take some tweets about traders with a pinch of salt (mistakes happen!) and sometimes you won’t even find any information about a business. Generally though, using Twitter has made me feel more empowered as a consumer. Do you feel the same or is it a waste of time in your mind?

Has Aniela convinced you to be a more active Tweeter? If so, make sure you follow Which Conversation’s Twitter feed, @WhichConvo to keep up with all the latest consumer-related stories.