How a Facebook page might save a company in Brand disgrace! Brumbys told franchisees to blame carbon tax and hike up fees. The backlash was enormous on social media sites such as Twitter, on Facebook and so on. Now Brumbys are using Facebook to apologise and ask for leniency and the franchisees are using it to explain and fight back.

Uhoh Deane Priest told 300 franchisees to “blame the carbon tax” while hiking bread prices. They are now facing up to a $1 million dollar fine. (AFR)

If your CEO hasn’t figured out the ROI of social media then think about the COI, the cost of inaction. By not even considering what would happen when the always on, always connected masses found out about the message – and of course, they were always going to find out – the brand has been damaged.

National chain Brumby’s Bakeries could face a fine of up to $1 million after issuing a memo that encouraged franchise owners to blame price rises on the carbon tax.

Brumby’s owner, the listed Retail  Food Group, distanced itself from the memo, saying that it was not sanctioned, and was foolish and ill-considered.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating the memo sent by Brumby’s managing director Deane Priest to franchisees of the 300 stores.

In the June edition of Backmix, Mr Priest told franchisees to “make some [price] moves in June and July” and blame the carbon tax as a way to generate extra sales revenue.

“We are doing a [recommended retail price] review at present which is projected to be in line with CPI, but take an opportunity to make some moves in June and July, let the carbon tax take the blame, after all your costs will be going up due to it,” he wrote.

I speak a lot at conferences, run workshops and consult with clients on snippy bitchy comments in social media. Sometimes they are earned, sometimes not. If you’ve seen my 8 ways to deal with negative criticism article or chart you know where Brumby’s Facebook response sits in the framework:

 

Very humanizing: “Please don’t blame the people at your local Brumby’s store for a serious error at head office. They are innocent victims in this situation. At the heart of every Brumby’s store are hard working people running a small business. Please give them your support. “ About the only thing they could’ve done better was to sign it. Even initials. Force people to remember that “they” are actually John, James and Beth or whatever. Qantas would do better to use humans on their social media offerings, like Telstra do…
NegativeComments in Social Media

Confession & apologies work, not all the time, and are not  fillers for fixing problems but they do help a lot.

Perhaps more telling are the franchisees that choose to fight back:

Cino Olly:  brumby’s will be broke in a year

One responded:

Katrina Combridge: Cino Olly, I sincerely hope not, as I’m one of those franchisees who has done nothing wrong! I have not put up my prices, I like many other franchisees have children and are trying to make a living……and just to clear things up Franchisees were NOT instructed to jack up our prices and I indeed don’t intend to, I’m sure every business has prices increases at some stage as do wages have increases yearly one in fact that has come into play as of July 1, are we going to blame that on the carbon tax too???? I just want everyone to realize this has nothing to do with individual stores/owners or their staff, this is a parent company issue!! DON’T BLAME you local Brumby’s Franchisee, they like you are part of your community!!

Fighting back when you are innocent or believe you are, can win you points or go against you. The small enterprise will often fight back if dealt unfairly by the social network, the bigger guys less likely to…