If you have a blog, and a bad customer service experience, you have the ingredients for remuneration: blog about it. The net has seen this strategy work over and over, and I think it’s a generally a good thing: it calls attention to the importance of customer service, and sharpens companies that already excel at it.

There is a dark side, and my mother discovered it.

Last week, she opened up a bad can of Bumble Bee tuna-fish. She wrote to customer service, and received a coupon for 6 free cans; that’s one giant casserole! To their credit, Bumble Bee may have been doing this for years, and it didn’t take a highly public blog article for them to correct a small mistake.

Bizarrely, my mother said the lesson was: “Whine and be Rewarded”.

As the Internet becomes more social, and online recommendation gains importance, when do we cross that thin line from shining light on consumer injustice, to whining for reward from those with deeper pockets?

It’d be odd to ask the Internet culture to ‘grow up’, so the choice is going to fall with the people selling the 'stuff’. At some point, they’ll have to be able to discern beggar from customer service opportunity. You can’t please everyone, so how do you 'do the right thing’ without encouraging whining?

- Aaron

PS: I need an opinion. If I write here about how I have not received my “Guaranteed Christmas Delivery” order from BustedTees, is that whining or creating a customer service opportunity? My friends would really like their Christmas gifts…