The Ventra Fiasco, Subway Sandwich Mishaps + The Lessons for Your Biz.


confused-man-overlay1 Trademark Attorney Chicago

So, if you are anywhere in or near Chicago, you probably know about all of the foolery surrounding the not-so-grand launch of Ventra. For those from St. Elsewhere, we used to have a reloadable transit card called “Chicago Plus Card” which was operated by the Chicago Transit Authority. That service was contracted to an outside vendor, “Ventra.” Apparently, the transition to Ventra has led to all types of hell for commuters.

Skim the Ventra Facebook page and see for yourself.

The issues range from cards not arriving in a timely manner, to loading dollars on cards that never appear, to balances from the old Chicago Plus Card that were never actually transferred. On top of that, it seems that customer service is non-existent, as folks are having trouble getting through on phone and other means.

Well, damn.

The other day, a Ventra Card user Dave Kenger led a class action, breach of contract and consumer fraud suit against the company. Check out the deets on Huffington Post.

Now what strikes me as utterly ridiculous is that despite the numerous complaints, and pleas for assistance on the Ventra Facebook page…

They’ve barely uttered a word.

There are a few replies from the Ventra team providing general information regarding activation, but the issues still remain. What’s missing is a clear and concise explanation of how people can open a tech support case with Ventra, or a real attempt to make folks feel like assistance is underway. Their damn-near-silence has only added fuel to the fire for pissed off Chicagoans.

Now, for Subway and the 11 inch foot longs…

You may remember the fiasco from earlier this year when Subway was sued by a couple of folks (including a Chicagoan) who measured their foot long subs and found that they were actually 11 inches (not 12).

Well, The Jacksonville Observer reported that the company issued a formal statement, addressing the situation:

The company issued a statement of regret from its corporate headquarters in Milford, Connecticut, but would not comment directly about the lawsuit. “For 47 years, customer satisfaction has been our top priority. We regret any instance where we did not fully deliver on our promise to our customers. Our commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches at each location worldwide,” the statement said. “We freshly bake our bread throughout the day in our more than 38,000 restaurants in 100 countries worldwide, and we have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve.”

While 11 inch subs are shady as all get out (yep, being sarcastic here), I do like that the company actually handled it.

The lesson here is that you cannot ignore your clients and customers who take their issues to the internet streets. They will not go away. You will make it even worse. These are real life examples of how two big companies, handled the public drama (one not so great and the other, the best that they could do under the circumstances).

It is your responsibility to be prepared for the rainy day.

Prepare by creating a When Ish Gets Real Plan.

  • Who in your organization is responsible for replying to customer/client issues posted online?
  • How quickly will you reply? 24 hour? 48 hours?
  • What will the reply look like? Remember, I recommended providing a way for customers/clients to contact you offline via your communication policy? If you sell a product your communication policy may be provided in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions section on your website.

That’s it for now. Get to work!

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