Category Archives: Social Media

Adventures In Customers Service

I simply had to write about this. As a business professor, I just found it too fascinating not to talk about. Here is what happened.

It is the day after Christmas, and my wife asked me about where a Wal-Mart Site-to-store pick-up was. I hadn’t picked it up and neither had she, but we received a confirmation that it had already been picked-up. That was problem #1

#2. So I went to Wal-Mart and explained the problem to the people in the Site-to-store department. They looked it up by the account number and their information showed that it had been picked up.

#3. So I protested that it had not. Then I waited … and waited… and waited while they reviewed every receipt from customers with a last name that begins with a G. They found another site to store receipt, but not that one.

#4. The department manager tried to make it right. She made a call to correct it. She would reorder the missing merchandise and we would not be charged a second time.

#5. I believed her.

#6. When I returned home, my wife asked me why we were charged again for the same merchandise. What?

#7. So she attempted to cancel the order, but you cannot see if it is really canceled for a couple of days.

#8. I drove back to WalMart under the impression that I would resolve something. Silly me.

#9. I spoke with the same site to store department manager who understood the problem, but could not seem to get anyone elsewhere in Walmart’s system to tell her what happened. The best she could was get a half-hearted “I think the customer has not been charged a second time. I don’t know why it reflects that way on their email.”

10. I asked for assurances that we had not been charged twice for the same goods that we did not pick up the first time, but I received no reassurance. The department manager asked me if I would like to come back tomorrow. “No.” I wanted to resolve it now.

11. So she looked at her computer in the back room. She came back with no information.

12. “What do I do now?” I asked.  “You can see if your bank statements reflect a new charge,” she said. That really was not good enough.

13. “Well, we can go up to customer service.” So we walked up to customer service where a very annoyed assistant manager told me that I could come back tomorrow. In fairness, it was the day after Christmas, so I understand her annoyance, but I have now just spent a large chunk of my day in WalMart getting nowhere trying to resolve a problem that I did not create as they tried to correct a problem that I did not create.

It was dark when I left my local WalMart at 9800 Dorchester Road in Summerville, SC.  I resolved to write my story because I resolved to write the company president–the one that is in the new company commercials showing us how tuned in he is. Let’s see if he is tuned in or if that is marketing.

I wrote this:

Dear Doug,
I thought I would let you know about my experience at Wal-Mart today. I received a confirmation email for a site-to-store pick up that I did not pick up (but I was charged for). I went t0 the store and tried to resolve it. After waiting for the employees to scour the receipts, they told me that they would re-order it for me “at no charge” (which actually means that they would provide the merchandise that I already paid for, but OK. To err is human).

When I got home I found out that they had charged me a second time. We tried to cancel, but the system would not tell us that it was canceled. I drove back to the store and asked them to unwind the transaction. No one could tell if I was actually charged twice. They told me to check my bank statement to find out. Really?
I wasted hours of my day trying to correct a mistake compounded by additional mistakes that were made over and again by your employees. I would like to get this problem resolved, and I thought you would like to know just how badly your internal system is functioning. I would also like to know how I can get these few hours of my life back. I blogged about it here if you care to read about it:

-Darin Gerdes

I told him that I am looking forward to hearing back from him, but in the mean-time, I am blogging about it. I understand that companies now pay attention to social media, so we will test the theory.

The good news for WalMart is that they get to write the last segment of this post. I will provide their response below. If they do not respond, I will report that too. Either way, there is a public record and it will likely become a topic of discussion for class and maybe make its way into a future book.

So this is Part I. Stay tuned.




Filed under Change, Current Events, Effectiveness, Social Media, Success, Uncategorized

I’m Back

About six months ago I received a notice from my web host informing me that there was malware somewhere  on my webpages.  This didn’t surprise me because it includes subdomains that I use for student projects.  The hosting service told me that they would be happy to clean it up for a hefty premium–far more than they charge for hosting the sites. They made it clear that it is my responsibility to prevent malware in lines of code that I don’t understand.

All that the say two things.  I’ve sufficiently cleaned so that I am back in business and I’m for a new hosting service because that was just ridiculous.  If you have any suggestions,  I’m happy to hear them.

Since my webpage was shut down in the great malware adventure of 2015-2016,  I have become the Director of Education for Great Business Networking (GBN).  I write a weekly educational piece (21  lessened since January)  and I often have extra material that would’ve been great on the blog if it had been up and running.  I hate to see good aha’s go to waste.

I will be blogging more regularly if for no other reason than to not be a hypocrite. Let me explain.  You see,  four or five of those lessons have been about social media.  It seems kind of silly to explain the process will not engage in the process.  I’m back.  Let’s continue the conversations we had before.


Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on are his own.

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Filed under Social Media, Uncategorized

Chick-Fil-A and the Culture Wars: An Update

I began blogging when the LGBT community picked a fight with the CEO of Chick-Fil-A over comments that he made about his support for the traditional family. Two and a half years later, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with misinformation about RFRA in Indiana from those opposed to the law. Apple and other organizations that say that they want to pull out of the state of Indiana because they want to “serve all customers” (except those who hold beliefs of conscience that are different from their own).

Not much has changed in the culture wars. However, I yesterday, I stumbled over this fun little article.

Do you remember the Adam Smith, the guy who metaphorically pantsed himself  by being incredibly rude to a Chick-fil-A cashier when he got his free cup of water. Adam posted it on YouTube an was waiting for the adulation to come in when he found himself fired for his actions. I wrote about this in my third blog post.

Well, he’s back, and he’s trying to cash in with a new eBook, a memoir entitled: Million Dollar Cup of Water. It currently has a two star rating with 91 customer reviews, but you have to admire the brazen attempt to make a buck by being infamous. Mercifully, he did not release a sex tape. Thank you, Adam. I have to give you credit for stopping there.

Infamous  is where you are more than famous (according to The Three Amigos)!

After the YouTube incident, “Smith lost his $200,000 salary and more than $1 million in stock options. He and his family moved to Portland, where he got a CFO job, but lost it two weeks later when they realized who he was,” according to a NEWSER article.

If you are interested in what he has to say, here is a little bit about the book from the official book description:

Finding balance between work and home, Adam settled into a rewarding life with a job he loved and an expanding family that gave it all meaning . . . until he made the choice to stand up for the rights of someone else. His now infamous protest began with the painful renouncement of many of the religious teachings that once formed his world view yet no longer made sense, and ended with the even more devastating surrender of his sense of safety and security.

You can see his noble stand here as he berated the evil Chick-Fil-A employee here:

Please feel free to share with friends who remember these events in August of 2012.

-Dr. Gerdes


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Filed under Current Events, Ethics, Leadership, Social Media, Video in Post

The Secret of Getting People to Follow You.

Too often, young leaders start with the wrong perspective on leadership.

It is not bad to want to lead, but typically they think that leadership is all about “being a leader.” This view encourages self-aggrandizing behaviors, playing politics, and efforts to get people to follow you. Ultimately, it leads to frustration when these ill-fated techniques do not work.

When we want to know how to get people to follow us, we have begun by asking the wrong question.

Leadership is not about you. It is about the people you lead.

The Motivation to Lead

It took me a long time to understand this point (Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership notwithstanding) . The difference is motivation.

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityThe correct motivation is the key to success in leadership. If you really believe in that leadership is all about you, will act one way. But if you believe that leadership is about success of your followers, then you will act an entirely different way. Let me illustrate.

Parallels between Social Media and Leadership

Social media is a wonderful metaphor for successful leadership. Think about how social media works. It is not command-and-control. There is no boss telling you what you must read or write.

In social media, the would-be leader must make his mark not with control, but by influence. That influence is magnified when it is focused on the needs of others.

Loud “buy my product” overtures fall flat. They are ignored (or blocked). In contrast, the best social media marketers simply give away a lot of valuable material. They attract a crowd because they look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). People follow them because they add value.

Are you adding value to others?

What is the secret of getting people to follow you? Stop trying to be a “leader.” Sincerely add value to others and before long you will have a following.

Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.


Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on are his own.


Filed under Effectiveness, Leadership, Management, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Social Media, Success, Trust