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How Twitter Became the Unlikely Hero in a Rental Car Fiasco – Yahoo Finance

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You’ve seen a friend angry-tweeting at an airline because a hurricane caused a flight delay, a futile attempt. But one Avis customer turned to Twitter after days of frustration and a bogus rental car bill — all because he said Avis “stole” his rental car — and it worked.

Tarikh Campbell, who works in Boston as a program manager for Microsoft, experienced a peculiar situation after renting a vehicle from Avis for a trip to his childhood hometown in Teaneck, New Jersey. He checked the car out of the lot just fine, but as he went to grab his car from the driveway where it was parked, it was gone.

Fearing it was stolen, Campbell reviewed footage from a neighbor’s security cameras and saw the car had been towed, but for no explainable reason. While a bizarre incident on its own, perhaps more troubling is how little support he said he received from Avis in uncovering why it was towed and where it went.

Avis customer service representatives gave him phone numbers of employees who could escalate the issue, but Campbell says one number was out of service and the other didn’t take voicemails despite no answer. Of the representatives he did talk to, Campbell says they didn’t know about the towing, yet told him he would be liable if the car wasn’t returned.

It wasn’t until after he filed a police report, spent hours on hold, was told by Avis he was liable and was charged the full rental price plus late fees that Campbell eventually learned that Avis itself took the car. So Campbell took to Twitter.

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When you’ve exhausted every other outlet, turn to Twitter

“A relative suggested I take my case to Twitter,” Campbell tells NerdWallet. “Viral tweets have gotten the attention of authority in the past, so maybe Avis’ account would reach out to me.”

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Campbell’s tweet includes the warning, “Traveler beware!”

Campbell outlined his predicament in a roughly 30-tweet thread. The original tweet garnered over 30,000 retweets and likes. Replies included people sharing their own rental car horror stories and other brands reaching out, like Avis’ competitor Hertz.

Hertz responded by tweet: “We’re here to get you there!”

His strategy paid off in not just grabbing the internet’s attention, but also grabbing the attention that Campbell actually wanted: Avis customer service.

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“In the six days after my car was taken, Avis never directly reached out to me, despite me calling both corporate and their brand number and being on hold for hours,” he says. “They reached out to me for the first time after the tweet went viral.”

Avis offered to refund his charges, plus reimburse additional costs such as his airport ride. The company also offered a future credit.

However, social media isn’t always the answer

While Twitter’s power came through for Campbell, it may not always be the best way to get customer support. Some say it can unfairly hurt businesses and might not be effective for customers, either.

A single negative post could be debilitating for small businesses

Social media can amplify customer complaints, which in Campbell’s situation got him compensation and shed light on rental car company practices. But it can also damage a business’s reputation.

“Today, upset clients can air their complaints and dirty laundry on social media for all to see, whether it’s true or not — or even if they were an actual client or not,” says Chris Atkins, who runs a boutique luxury fishing company in Central America. “These comments have the power to turn away potential clients, damage reputations and branding, or sour relationships. Social media can be very aggravating and misleading.”

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Handling private matters on a public channel might not work

If your interaction involves exchanging payment information, confirmation numbers or other private matters, a public post might end up complicating things. Travelers might end up publicly posting sensitive information, and companies might incur more brand damage if a drawn-out public conversation ensues.

Reasons to use social media as a customer service tool

Of course, Twitter worked for Campbell, and it can work for you too.

Social media typically generates faster responses

Terika Haynes, a professional travel planner, says that while she’ll start with the phone or email, she uses social media for both herself and her clients.

“Social media is effective because the complaint is front and center in front of millions of people and makes the issue time-sensitive,” she says. “Companies have no choice but to respond and react quickly before a bad situation goes viral.”

Haynes says she typically gets a faster response on social media than by phone. And the data bears that out. A 2021 study of 3,000 travel and hospitality companies by customer service company Netomi found that — at least for airlines — response times for Twitter are far faster than those for email.

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The company conducted a test for its Customer Service Benchmark Report and found the average response time among airline companies was 16.36 hours for email, but was 8.52 hours for Twitter. What’s more, Netomi found that 22% of all travel and hospitality companies responded to direct Twitter messages within the first 15 minutes.

While you can probably afford to wait a few days to find out the status of your online shopping order, travel companies often don’t have the luxury of time.

“Hearing ‘email us and we will come back to you within seven days’ isn’t really helpful if you’re stuck without your promised rental car,” says Charlotte Sheridan, who runs a digital marketing agency in the U.K. “Most often angry tweets are sent when someone is in crisis, like they’re at the airport, or just arrived at the hotel,” she says. “They want an answer quickly, and they want to feel heard.”

It’s easier to get in touch

Finding a company’s customer support line can be complicated enough, but navigating the phone tree to find a real human can be even harder. As long as the brand has a social media presence, getting in touch is as simple as tagging it in a public post or sending a direct message.

Good public customer service can boost a company’s credibility

While Avis didn’t look good in Campbell’s situation, some travel companies have found their social media presence to be a useful outlet to connect with customers.

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“It is a great opportunity where they can use the instance of a complaint to turn things around and show the masses how well they respond to customer questions and concerns,” Haynes says.

Did social media actually solve the towed rental car saga?

Campbell still doesn’t fully understand how his car was towed from the driveway where it was parked. An Avis Budget Group spokesperson said by email that the company conducted an internal investigation and found that the incorrect tow was triggered by an administrative error on a previous rental.

“Mistaken tows occur infrequently, but we are taking steps to prevent situations like this from occurring at all in the future,” the spokesperson said.

Thankfully, Twitter saved Campbell from a rental car bill and also ensured he wasn’t liable for a many-thousand-dollar rental car.

“At the time, I felt like I had no resources left,” he says. “And now I’m thinking, ‘Thank God for social media.’ While social media can be used for a number of ways that aren’t always so good, it’s a way to leverage companies to do good. It makes brands vulnerable, and if a company is mistreating customers, then social media is a way to amplify those concerns.”

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Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: sfrench@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SAFmedia.

The article How Twitter Became the Unlikely Hero in a Rental Car Fiasco originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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TWITTER

Elon Musk Says He’ll Pay $11 Billion in Taxes in 2021 But Twitter Wants ‘Proof’

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Elon Musk took to Twitter to clarify once and for all that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes this year.

If the number of times Elon Musk could count when someone has asked him to pay the full taxes, he would be a very rich..wait, never mind. The Tesla boss is rich beyond any private individual has been in history, reports said.

Musk has increasingly been facing criticism from many politicians and many others who insist he has not been paying taxes as compared to the profits his companies have been making. On Sunday, the SpaceX CEO took to Twitter to share that he will be paying a whopping $11 billion as taxes.

For those wondering, I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021

But some of the questions did not stop. One person tweeted how they needed to see Musk’s tax returns while yet another asked how much percentage was that of his total income.

A few were, however scathing of the government who thought they will add that amount to their pockets rather than using it for some proper development.

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Wow that’s enough to give each person in the world almost $2 million but instead the government will just stick it in their pockets— greg (@greg16676935420) December 20, 2021

Why not $200 billion? Asking for a Senator— litquidity (@litcapital) December 20, 2021

Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren has tweeted to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop “freeloading off everyone else” after Time magazine named him its “person of the year”.

In response, Musk shot four tweets in which he said that the senator reminded him of a friend’s angry mom who yelled at everybody. He tweeted, ““And if you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.” “Don’t spend it all at once … oh wait you did already.”

He added further, “You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason.”

Musk responded by saying that he “will pay more taxes than any American in history this year”. This Twitter exchange left netizens divided as even though many supported Warren and agreed that Musk should pay more taxes, others felt that he was already doing enough.

Musk’s Tesla is worth about $1 trillion. Over the last few weeks, he has sold nearly $14 billion worth of Tesla shares.

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The Tesla boss has been pushing for his colonize Mars agenda for years now, and has made it very clear in some occasions that he would rather spend the money on putting humanity on the red planet, than pay his taxes. “My plan,” the SpaceX founder tweeted about his fortune, “is to use the money to get humanity to Mars and preserve the light of consciousness.”

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Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures

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Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.

Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.

It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.

Their concerns were quickly validated, with anti-extremism researcher Kristofer Goldsmith tweeting a screenshot of a far-right call-to-action circulating on Telegram: “Due to the new privacy policy at Twitter, things now unexpectedly work more in our favor.”

“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.

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Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.

Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.

“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.

In announcing the privacy policy on Tuesday, Twitter noted that “sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm.”

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But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”

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By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”

“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.

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Jack Dorsey Post Twitter Is Chasing His Crypto, Fintech Dream

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At a packed Miami conference in June, Jack Dorsey, mused in front of thousands of attendees about where his real passion lay: “If I weren’t at Square or Twitter, I’d be working on Bitcoin.”

On Monday, Dorsey made good on one part of that, announcing he would leave Twitter for the second time, handing the CEO position to a 10-year veteran at the firm. The 45-year-old entrepreneur, who is often described as an enigma with varied interests from meditation to yoga to fashion design, plans to pursue his passion which include focusing on running Square and doing more philanthropic work, according to a source familiar with his plan.

Well before the surprise news, Dorsey had laid the groundwork for his next chapter, seeding both companies with cryptocurrency-related projects.

Underlying Dorsey’s broader vision is the principle of “decentralisation,” or the idea that technology and finance should not be concentrated among a handful of gatekeepers, as it is now, but should, instead, be steered by the hands of the many, either people or entities.

The concept has played out at Square, which has built a division devoted to working on projects and awarding grants with the aim of growing Bitcoin’s popularity globally. Bitcoin price in India stood at Rs. 44.52 lakh as of 12:50pm IST on December 1.

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Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of Bitcoin, and the appeal is that the cryptocurrency will allow for private and secure transactions with the value of Bitcoin unrelated to any government.

The idea has also underpinned new projects at Twitter, where Dorsey tapped a top lieutenant – and now the company’s new CEO Parag Agrawal – to oversee a team that is attempting to construct a decentralised social media protocol, which will allow different social platforms to connect with one another, similar to the way email providers operate.

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The project called Bluesky will aim to allow users control over the types of content they see online, removing the “burden” on companies like Twitter to enforce a global policy to fight abuse or misleading information, Dorsey said in 2019 when he announced Bluesky.

Bitcoin has also figured prominently at both of his companies. Square became one of the first public companies to own Bitcoin assets on its balance sheet, having invested $220 million (roughly Rs. 1,650 crore) in the cryptocurrency.

In August, Square created a new business unit called TBD to focus on Bitcoin. The company is also planning to build a hardware wallet for Bitcoin, a Bitcoin mining system, as well as a decentralised Bitcoin exchange.

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Twitter allows users to tip their favourite content creators with Bitcoin and has been testing integrations with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a type of digital asset that allows people to collect unique digital art.

Analysts see the transition as a positive signal for Square, the fintech platform he co-founded in 2009. Square’s core Cash App, after a bull run in its share in 2020, has experienced slower growth in the most recent quarter. It is also trying to digest the $29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,17,240 crore) acquisition of Buy Now Pay Later provider Afterpay, its largest acquisition ever.

But these ambitions will not pay off until years from now, analysts cautioned.

“The blockchain platform they’re trying to develop is great but also fraught with technical challenges and difficult to scale for consumers. I think he’ll focus more on Square and crypto will be part of that,” said Christopher Brendler, an analyst at DA Davidson.

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© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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