U-Haul, Social Media, and Proverbs 31:8
On Saturday, I got to watch something cool happen. A guy named Dave Palmer was stranded in the desert by UHaul, and having a difficult time getting the company to give him any kind of help with the truck they rented him. After several attempts to receive some sort of satisfaction from U-Haul by phone, he resorted to sharing his story on his blog, and leveraging social media to force U-Haul to behave in a manner that the majority of society would consider to be civil and humane.
Within four hours some pretty cool stuff happened. Adam McLane explains it best:
The results were fantastic. In about 4 hours we had 380 specific tweets, thousands of retweets, and with the hashtag totally followers (potential reach) of over 1 million. The response from U-Haul was fairly quick because of the volume of attention. Just as it was really building up steam to be something that might actually trend on Twitter, U-Haul called Dave and began a process of fixing the situation. Part of the strategy with tweeting U-Haul’s competitors was to add a layer of desperation because no brand wants to be seen as losing face publicly. (@penskemoving offered to step in and fix the whole thing and about 15 minutes later U-Haul had a fix in motion. Coincidence? Doubt it.)
Ultimately the situation was resolved, and Dave Palmer got back on the road, but there are a plethora of lessons to be learned from this entire experience. Today, and Thursday, I want to unpack the two things that this incident has me thinking about, and apply them to our day to day lives.
The Big Question
For me, the biggest question is what if Dave Palmer didn’t have internet access? What happens if Dave is stranded in Pecos, Texas, without his laptop… waiting on U-Haul to call him back? If #freepalmer isn’t starting to trend on twitter… what then? Based on the amount of internet hatred directed towards U-Haul, I suspect that he would still be sitting in Pecos, Texas waiting on U-Haul to do the right thing… and this bugs me.
There are times when people need advocates… people to speak up for them. Some have the ability to communicate their needs, others… not so much. Over the last several years I have become increasingly convinced that we, as the church, are called to stand up and be advocates for those who need them, or as King Lemuel’s mother said so eloquently:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
I realize that dealing with U-Haul is minor in scale compared to some of the struggles and problems that those around us are faced with. This is why I am so excited to see organizations like Invisible People, The A21 Campaign, and Hope Mob stepping up and speaking for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves… and challenging me to be more intentional about doing so myself.
Who do YOU advocate for?