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Price increase lead to social media attack

In recent years, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse’s deaths sparked an immediate and drastic uptick in their record sales. Whitney Houston’s passing has had a similar effect on her music.

Sony came under fire for raising prices on Houston’s music in the UK. Just hours after Whitney Houston’s death the price of the album “The Ultimate Collection” jumped 60 percent and the album “The Greatest Hits” jumped 25 percent.

Fans were up in arms over a sudden iTunes price hike of two Houston albums and many Twitter users called for a “Boycott” of Sony. Houston fans where describing the price hike as “greedy” and “shameful”.

 

Price increase lead to social media attack - Boycott Sony
Price increase lead to social media attack. Sony Music raised the price of Whitney Houston’s songs just 30 minutes after her death.

 

Sony stayed quiet about the price change, even as criticism spread online. But than suddenly the company said that the changes were made by “mistake”:

Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the U.K. iTunes store on Sunday. When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused.

A source at Sony told Billboard the price jumps were the result of “an employee error.”  We probably never know if that was the case.

But this is not the only case

Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile carrier, canceled a planned $2 “convenience fee” for online and phone bill payments after a backlash from consumers.

Customers began criticizing Verizon Wireless on Twitter and Web forums after the company disclosed the fee, with some setting up online petitions and calling for consumers to boycott the carrier. Verizon Wireless customers started more than 35 petitions on Change.org against the fee, including one that was joined by more than 95,000 people within hours.

At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time – Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.

A consumer backlash led to Bank of America Corp. canceling a $5-per-month fee for debit card users. In that case, too, consumers used online campaigns to pressure the company.

These episodes show how difficult it is for companies to mess with pricing.  The key is to not let a price hike become emotional to customers, because that’s when they become irrational and ultimately leave.

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About the author
Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland

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About the author
Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland

View full profile

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