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IP Quick Intellect

The customer is always right…except when they’re not

Posted by on 3 Nov 2017

Why an apology online isn't always your best response

Iconic retailer David Jones found itself in hot water after giving a disgruntled customer a tepid response to her online complaint.

In a since deleted post, a Facebook user posted on the company’s page to express her disappointment in using Adut Akech, a 17-year old Adelaide based model, on the cover of their latest catalogue: "How on earth am I expected to relate to this cover? I can't wear any of her make-up, I don't know ANYONE who looks like her...she could have been used on the back page...” 

David Jones responded with a generic marketing message:


The reply attracted the ire of other facebook users, unhappy with the retailer’s attempts to pacify the customer: 

The retailer apologised for using the standard response and said:

“We have not, and will never, apologise for representing the diverse makeup of the Australian community in our marketing materials or campaigns.”

“The initial response to this Facebook post was a standard response, given by a customer service representative without enough thought as to how it could be misinterpreted, and we acknowledge this response was not appropriate in this context.

“We are proud of the cover and the talent used for our Spring Summer 2017 beauty catalogue and the variety of Australians represented on our catwalk.”

The big lesson here is that there are times that it’s ok to respond negatively to online commentary if it doesn’t align with your brand’s positioning and ethics – provided you do so in a way that calmly and simply says just that.

In a guest blog, Nicole Matejic discussed the importance of staying true to your brand, highlighting Gelato Messina’s response to a customer’s Urbanspoon review. The crux of her blog is that keeping someone else happy at the detriment of your own business, wellbeing, or moral and ethical standards shouldn’t be the accepted norm.

David Jones’ follow up statement about not apologising for using a diverse range of models in promotional materials would have been better as an initial response, rather than their generic response which placed the retailer on the back foot.

If you’ve received inappropriate comments online, respond with thought and consideration, making it clear in as nice a way as possible, that the comments are unacceptable and don’t align with your brand.

If you would like to speak with one of the lawyers in Coleman Greig's Brand Protection team, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 02 9895 9230, or via

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