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May 16, 2016

Why Do Giant Companies Step on Consumers Toes: Real Examples of Giant Corporate Mistakes

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Large corporations often make mistakes, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. The closer the company is to being a monopoly, the greater the chance they will step on our toes. This week’s article will delve into recent real world examples of giant companies stepping on customers’ toes. We will name names and tell it like it is. We will look at some of the big players who are well known Like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook (plus a few lesser known companies). So read on and be ready to learn about real world examples of giant corporations biting the hands that feed them because they can. Now that I have shared many of the ways giant companies step on client’s toes, let’s look at some recent examples.

Before delving into the marketing/PR mistakes of large companies, I want to lay out what I feel are the common precursors to these mistakes. The primary precursor is when a company becomes really big, its internal communications level goes down. This is easy to understand, because when you have a lot more people in the mix, it makes it easier for miscommunication to take place. On top of this problem, many of these companies have become giants because they were first to market or have achieved a quasi-monopoly status with their product or service. When a company controls market share, it seems to believe it can do no wrong. This usually sets even the biggest companies up for a pratfall, because they start believing their own hype and stop paying attention to what the public wants.

Let’s start with Google


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Google often assumes its audience and loyal customers read its blogs and regularly search its website for product announcements. Wrong! Take Google+, a product that Google has been fiddling with since its launch in 2011. First, they bundled many of their premier products into Google+, making it easy for people to find and use their products. Then it began to strip out products one by one. It moved Google Local into Google+ then moved it back out. Next it changed Google local to Google my Business. It did the same with Picasa. Moved it in, then out, before replacing it with Google Photos. Hangouts was in, and now it’s out. As a rule, most users found out that these changes took place when they couldn’t find the feature they came to use.

Google’s Issues don’t Stop There.

Google is forever changing its algorithm for organic search. Some say between 400 and 600 times a year. This costs businesses billions of dollars each year in lost revenue and additional R and D, plus site retooling. Google has stated publicly these changes fall into three categories. Updates to improve the customer experience (i.e. The user gets what they are really looking for – not just content, but what they intended). Updates have also been initiated in an effort to thwart professional SEO marketers and criminals from gaming the system.

Just take a look at the multitude of updates named after cute animals over the past six years to get an idea of how pervasive the constant changes have become. Updates like Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird and, pigeon all wreaked havoc on tens of thousands of businesses. There are also other updates not named after cute animals. Last year Google announced an update that had a profound impact on all websites. Google decided that websites needed to be mobile-friendly. I agree with this, but since most websites were not ready for this change, it immediately removed millions of websites from mobile search.   Thus the update was nicknamed Mobilegeddon.

Google’s update cost billions of dollars each year.

When Google implements an update, there are millions of businesses that become big winners and others that are huge losers. If you’re lucky (or really paying attention) you win. If not, you lose big. Do the math. If one million of the 500 or so million websites on Google need to update the site, because of a Google algorithm change, and it cost them $1,000 to address the update, they would spend a billion dollars altogether. An example of this was when many realtors lost their page one position after working so hard to reach that position last year. Google’s new algorithm changed the emphasis from primarily content, to being in directories to rank for local search. Those sites that had used content as the primary ranking factor lost out.

That does not mean Google is doing things in an arbitrary way. No sir, it is very deliberate. Google does not picks who the winners and losers will be – it’s the search engine. It isn’t targeting individual companies — mind you, Google emphasizes what it wants companies to engage in.

Google Does It Again



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The tech giant’s latest algorithm changes will soon force more businesses to depend on GoogleAdWords for traffic. Google recently changed the number of organic search listings from approximately 12, to seven organic listings.  With the reduced number of search page result listings now in play, fewer businesses in the same industry or category can be shown at one time. That means it’s even harder than ever before to get on page one of Google search. I just hope that other search engine companies realize this is a perfect opportunity to steal away search users and business customers from Google. If they offer a search product that provides a more useful listing set, than the mere seven listings Google is now serving up, they could gain market share. This is especially true if Google tries to gouge its customers with its monopoly in pay per click.

Speaking of Google pissing off millions of users

We recently reported how Google was spying on every keystroke you make. It’s a fact that every Google property from Gmail to Google+, Google Search, and YouTube is tracking your every move. Back then this caused an uproar, however, that uproar is dying down and is now almost forgotten. Read The Piracy of Privacy – the looting of Privacy in America for more details.



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What about Microsoft

Microsoft pretty much has a monopoly hold on the PC OSmarket. This has allowed the firm to take whatever direction it chose. It did not ask the consuming public what they wanted. Because if it had done so, products like Millennium, Vista and Windows 8 would have never come to pass.

Microsoft launched Millennium, back in 2000 and it ended up being one of the shortest-lived products they ever launched. Most Microsoft customers hated it because it was full of bugs and because it was a big change from windows 98. The following year they replaced it with Windows XP (which had a legacy support look and feel) which extended XP’s life span to become one of the longest-lived MS products to date.

When Vista was launched, it fell flat on its face because it looked so different than Windows XP.  Then Microsoft got smart and fixed that problem with Windows 7. But guess what, it could not leave well enough alone. It launched Windows 8 and again pissed off the masses. Windows 8 was such a big flop that Microsoft had to bring Windows 7 back from retirement. The firm quickly figured out that new PCs were not selling with version 8 and started offering PCs with both Windows 7 and 8.



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Windows 10 is proof that Microsoft has learned some lessons from its prior mistakes (even though it seems to make the same ones repeatedly). This new version has been a big success, but not without its own gotchas. I recommend reading –“What’s Up with Windows 10 – the good the bad and the ugly” to get some insights. Also Microsoft is trying to get people to use its free One Drive storage. However, it recently shot itself in the foot by downgrading the free capacity from 15 gigs to 5 and also took back the unlimited capacity for office 365 users.  This flies in the face of common sense since Google, its arch rival, recently made it possible to get 30 gigs on Google Drive for free and even possibly a terabyte of free cloud storage.

How about the many Face of Facebook

Facebook, in the past few years, has raised the hackles of its subscribers on a regular basis by constantly changing how Facebook works. Facebook seems to revel in making its user base angry. Facebook has made what seems like continuous changes to the way the News Feed and timeline works. It seems to shuffle the deck where commands and function are located, making it harder for businesses trying to manage their fan pages. This has profound effects on both subscribers and businesses using Fan pages for marketing.


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Not long ago, it suddenly changed how contests could be run. Lately, it has made the filtering of the timeline so strong that businesses are mostly forced to run pay per click ads, if they want their follower to see any of their corporate posts. As a general rule, Facebook seems to be enamored with changing things, from the location of features to advertising rules. Privacy is almost nonexistent on Facebook. If a person died suddenly, his or her pages may be stuck on Facebook forever. If the significant other doesn’t have the username and password for the deceased person’s page, he/she can’t have the site taken down.

My last annoyance with Facebook is it has zero phone tech support. On top of that, its e-mail tech support gets a poor grade as well. I know I am not dissing Facebook as much as I have Google and Microsoft, but take it from me, it seems to work hard at making sure that the only constant is change.


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Smaller Companies are not Exempt

There are literally hundreds of examples, however, the examples aren’t just with the mega corporations. Smaller companies and even some startup are guilty of the same kind of mistakes. Take Fitbit as an example, it tried to explain away accuracy errors in its activity health trackers, as minor, which eventually caused the creation of a class action lawsuit. This also caused a lot of furor in the social arena as well.

Many know the headache of apps going from great to bad when they update themselves and cause the user’s Smartphone to crash or lockup.  Recently, one of my all-time favorite apps, call WAZE, caused me to uninstall it altogether. That app updated itself while I was driving. That update immediately locked up my Android Smartphone while I was taking a call! Boy was I livid!

You have a choice and a decision to make.

It is your duty as an informed consumer to share your product and customer service experience with the rest of the world. This is the only thing keeping giant companies on the path to happy customers. Today giant companies no longer can provide poor products or customer service as long as you report what they are doing. Social media has become the great equalizer. If you do not use your rights as a consumer to complain (or sing their praises) on social media when you have been taken advantage of, it’s on you. Don’t let giant companies squash you like a bug. We can all fight back by sharing stories of poor customer service, bad products or corporate lying. You can also help these companies by praising them when they do a good job. Social media has given you a real voice. It’s given you a carrot and a stick to keep them in check.


Hector Cisneros is the president and COO for W Squared Media Group LLC. A digital Marketing Agency in the N.E. Florida Area. He is also the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio Show Working The Web To Win. W Squared Media also does Business as Working The Web To Win online and in Florida.