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5 Customers Who Flipped Their Lids at Infuriating Corporations

We’ve all had reasons to be upset with major companies, many of which have a habit of treating consumers like inconvenient nuisances.

Who hasn’t had revenge fantasies about an airline while sitting on the tarmac for the fourth straight hour without food, or about a telecom company when your Internet goes down for the 17th time in one day, or when you find out your cell phone company raised your rates six months ago without letting you know?

We’ve all had reasons to be upset with major companies, many of which have a habit of treating consumers like inconvenient nuisances whose concerns slow them down in their pursuit toward a more robust bottom line. And many of us have done something in response to this sense of frustration -- sent a strongly worded letter, say, or asked to speak with a manager. Sometimes that even gets us results.

Other people have gotten more creative, using social media and digital tools to level the playing field in the David against Goliath fight against a big corporation.

Still others have gotten... emotional. Sometimes these spur-of-the-moment outbursts are caught on camera, and they often go viral. Why? Because, while we may not have chosen to knock over a shelf full of electronics, at some point in our lives, we’ve all wanted to.

Sites like the Consumerist have published many examples of how not to react to real or perceived mistreatment by a company. But violent outbursts notwithstanding, it’s often possible to see where people are coming from when they respond to mistreatment as a consumer in an extreme way. Who knows what’s going on in their lives or in their minds, but it’s easy to see that they’re frustrated about paying a company a lot of money only to be treated like dirt. Those are legitimate frustrations.

So, I’m not saying that all of the following examples of consumer revenge are appropriate, or that you should try them. I’m just saying that on some level, we can all relate.

1. Musician shames United Airlines over broken guitar, in song

Back in 2009, United Airlines severely damaged a guitar owned by Canadian musician Dave Carroll. After United refused to pay the $1,200 it was going to cost to repair the guitar, Carroll got his revenge via YouTube. His song “United Breaks Guitars” became a viral sensation, and soon after -- surprise, surprise! -- United got in touch with Carroll about making things right.

Carroll had such success, in fact, that he got a book deal out of the ordeal:  United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media is available through Amazon and Indigo.

2. Frustrated Nissan owner destroys dealership

This is another one that falls squarely in the “don’t try this at home” camp: A Moscow man who was at a Nissan dealership to pick up the car that had been under repair for a week became frustrated after he was made to wait “several hours,” according to a police report. In response to the egregious wait time, the man hopped in a car (whether the car was his or belonged to Nissan is unclear) and spent several minutes smashing the other cars in the dealership parking lot. The surveillance video from the lot is below.

3. Blogger tweets millions of followers about crappy Maytag service

Heather Armstrong, aka Dooce, is not just any mom blogger -- she heads up a media empire that has landed her on multiple “ most influential” lists. So when Armstrong, at her wit’s end over a broken washing machine that Maytag would not fix, told a customer service representative, “Do you know what Twitter is? Because I have over a million followers on Twitter,” she was serious. (Today Armstrong has over 1.5 million followers.) Armstrong took to her Twitter account with a string of angry tweets, among them, “So that you may not have to suffer like we have: DO NOT EVER BUY A MAYTAG. I repeat: OUR MAYTAG EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN A NIGHTMARE” and “Have I mentioned what a nightmare our experience was with Maytag?”

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