Casual Evangelist

A mission to learn a little about a lot…

Could Allegheny Power have a Social Media Problem on their Hands?

Posted by Andrew on January 12, 2008

Jimmy Gardner from East Coast Blogging posted an item this morning regarding what many would dismiss as a nice, welcome gesture by one of their utilities. UPS delivered to Jimmy four energy-saving light bulbs without informing him ahead of time or letting him know that he will be charged nearly $50 for the bulbs – hidden in his bill. Mail fraud? (does mail fraud occur on UPS? I guess this isn’t “interstate” fraud…)

Jimmy’s post is barely 45 minutes old, and the story is moving across Twitter and has 8 diggs (and counting) Add your digg. It will be interesting to see if this online community outrage rises to the level to get the attention of Allegheny brass and to see how they respond. Stay tuned…

UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun is on this story

UPDATE #2: Allegheny backs off and admits wrong. Jimmy’s got the story here.

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5 Responses to “Could Allegheny Power have a Social Media Problem on their Hands?”

  1. Daz Cox said

    but is it true??? does Jimmy just have a beef with Allegheny? does Allegheny have some kind of merger/buy out/take over (etc) going on that this publicity (negative or just plain old name recognition) will provide help to someone in some way that isn’t obvious from the short blurb above?

    Hoaxes and stealth marketing, perhaps to affect stock prices et al, are often started this way when well meaning people pass on information that they feel is from a trusted source, or simply to be in the loop and perhaps get a slice of the click through/stats/blog pride value.

    If my point is deleted I will know that you have something to gain by doing so, if only vanity (which we bloggers all have) if not I hope you take my constructive criticism and perhaps elaborate on why you believe this incident to be true. All I have is your word and I don’t know you yet.

  2. Andrew said

    Daz: I don’t know if this is just some beef that Jimmy has w/ Allegheny, nor can I comment on the legality of sending something to customers that they didn’t order and then charging them for it down the line. I’d be pissed if that happened to me, but I’m too preoccupied to take a little time to see it was happening…I’d just be clueless and pay my bill.

    Whether or not they broke some laws or a sense of trust, I saw the beginnings of what could be a little firestorm online about it, and I’m very interested to see if it grows, and how Allegheny responds. A potential case study in action regarding crisis management on the social web.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

  3. Shashib said

    I believe anything you receive in the mail that is unsolicited you don’t have to pay for. Now the question is when most of us have our utility bills deducted from our bank accounts its a difficult process to get that money back.

    Could there have been a check box somewhere or fineprint somewhere where a consumer agreed to this. I don’t know.

  4. Jimmy said

    @dan
    yes it is true, several of us have gone bac and looked at the bills to see the charges.
    I have no issues prior to this with the power company, no beefs if you will. I just saw what I think is a real underhanded business practice and wanted to point it out.

    Thanks for the comment

  5. […] We generated a lot of page views (thousands) and a lot of support.  It really was, as my friend Andrew said, a case study in social media and using it as a […]

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