There’s no shortage of videos on the Internet that make corporate America uncomfortable – from cheesy customer appreciations that cheapen their brand image to hidden-camera clips that just make them look silly.
Comes with the territory, they figure.
But given a choice, which ones would they delete?
No one knows, since takedown notices on video services like YouTube aren’t generally made public. But as a consumer advocate I can make an educated guess.
1. They reveal secrets companies don’t want you to know
Imagine what would happen if a consumer and an advertiser no longer see eye-to-eye. Then you can picture this clever break-up video featuring a dead ringer for Tom Cruise (watch his expressions about halfway through the clip) who is clearly pleased with himself. Although this is a “viral video” ad for Microsoft, it’s surprising to me that it was ever made. It suggests advertisers don’t take the time to listen to their customers, which, considering the amount of money Microsoft spends on advertising, is a little ironic. Still, it’s hard to imagine that any company that buys traditional advertising will want you to see this clip.
(Advertising-Customer break-up by leerooy)
2. They show something happening at their business that they deny happens
(What really happens at Wal-Mart by Marrakech0)
This one-minute clip of a Wal-Mart customer diving into a chips display is a work of art. Sure, there are other Wal-Mart videos, some with more views, but this one stands out among the others for its minimalist look and sheer bizarreness. What is it about big-box stores that inspires such random and destructive behavior? If Wal-Mart knew the answer, none of these clips would exist. Point is, none of this should be going on at any store, and if Wal-Mart could kill these videos, it probably would.
3. They expose shady practices by a company
(What your car dealer doesn’t want you to know by ByOwnerAutoSales)
Car dealers occupy a special place in the pantheon of corrupt companies. Believe me, as someone who just tried to buy a car (I walked away from the “deal”), I know. Car salesmen are masters of the upsell and their markups are often arbitrary. If you don’t believe me, then watch this video, in which two undercover producers were sent to buy the same car and came out with different offers on the same vehicle. Maybe if more people knew about this, they’d stop pricing their cars like this. Then again, maybe not.
4. They show you how to take advantage of them
(The shortchanging scam by foolimpa)
This BBC video shows how a dishonest customer can steal money from a shopkeeper in broad daylight without getting caught. It’s disturbing because it’s easy to pull off and relatively easy to fall for. There’s a good reason companies don’t want you to see this: They don’t want you to know how to confuse their employees into giving you more money than you deserve. And dishonest customers don’t exactly need any more encouragement now, do they?
5. They show you how to take advantage of their customers
The locker room rip-off
Here’s another video from the same program, but this one shows you how to steal the contents of someone else’s gym locker without breaking a sweat. It’s certainly not the kind of thing your gym would want you to know about (or engage in, for that matter). The clip underscores the fact that security is often the customer’s responsibility, and that businesses will often do little to protect your valuables. The best way to avoid having your valuables stolen, in addition to bringing your own lock, is to not bring anything that’s worth stealing, of course.
Have you watched any videos that you think companies would like to ban?
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.