I was first introduced to blogging by reading Dooce (Heather Armstrong). David had returned from a web conference where she had spoken on a round table. He was impressed. He found her funny, and witty and thought I would like her. I started reading her blog in 2004. We had kids the same age and I could completely relate to her voice. My story is not unique and I’m sure many of you found Dooce early in your blogging and/or were inspired by her. Heather is HUGE in the blogging world and will always be one of the few bloggers with that level of success. So this week when she came under attack for doing what most bloggers do everyday I was offended on her behalf.
Now I realize Heather does not need me defending her, nor does she need anybody justifying her actions. However, it is easy to hit a large target and then hide behind our own tiny corner of the internet world fearless of reprisal. That doesn’t seem fair. So Heather, this one is for you.
We’ve all experienced bad customer service. We’ve all had those moments when we wish we could scream from the hilltops that so and so company has screwed us royal and the injustice of it all makes us want to commit violence. I’ve had more than my share and if pressed could recount names, companies and violations of my consumer trust. Heather’s experience with Maytag over the last couple of months was horrific and obnoxious. She was justified in her anger and you know what? Unlike the rest of us she does have a hilltop to scream from about it and she did. Now, some people were quick to call her a bully and that she was abusing her power but that is not how I see it.
Heather Armstrong always has been and always will be a mommy-blogger. Period. She is a mom writing about her life. She is one of thousands of us and yes, she is more famous than the rest of us but she is still a mommy blogger. One of the main functions of mommy-blogging and the reason why any company is interested in us is because we provide honest and trustworthy feedback about products and services that we use. I trust a fellow Mom to be honest with her experiences.
In the five years I have been reading Heather Armstrong I have always found her to be honest, and transparent in any product she has ever mentioned (which does not happen often). I have seen her be very liberal in her praise for companies that have gone above and beyond and careful with her criticism. As a result she has earned my respect and trust. So when she began to blast Maytag on Twitter I knew there had to be more to the story – that this wasn’t Heather blowing hot air for no reason. When she explained the situation it was obvious that she had given Maytag an appropriate amount of time to fix the problem and indeed they eventually provided her with proper customer service.
Would a large company respond to our blog post or Tweets? Absolutely not. However, they should respond. I agree with Heather that we all should complain as loudly as we can when a company violates our consumer trust. Perhaps we won’t get satisfaction but Maytag warranted being embarrassed publicly and they were. The truth is more companies deserve that kind of public lambasting and as mommy-bloggers I feel that is part of our responsibility.
Mommy-blogging has suddenly become over run with writers who are more interested in wooing sponsors than being truly honest about their products. When all product reviews and discussions that you see on blogs are positive, well, it sort of dilutes the purpose and value of those opinions. Heather was honest. She used her powers for good (both by getting her own problem fixed and by getting appliances donated to a woman’s shelter). And trust me, if we all had that power when somebody screwed us, we would wield it without regret.