In my last post, "Shouldn't Legitimately Victimized Consumers Get Mad, Then Get Justice vs. "Get Even"?", I said that GE should have a disclaimer that says: "Attention! - Water Cooler Works Best with Bottled Water Containers That Have a 'Center Plug' in the Cap". This was due to Jacob Lodwick's video "Don't buy GE's GXCF20E Water Dispenser" showing that the product almost forces you to spill water and dispenses it slowly. GE told ABC's 20/20 in "Customers Get Even" that Jacob Lodwick did not read the instructions on how to use the product. When I saw that 20/20 webcast, I didn't believe that Jacob could not have read the instructions (maybe he didn't?), but operating a water dispenser is not brain surgery! So, I figured that there was either disinformation or misinformation somewhere by 20/20's John Stossel, Jacob Lodwick, or GE.
It appeared to me that 20/20 had the agenda in that webcast of putting down consumer generated complaint content when they said: "There are no editors checking to see whether complaints are valid. Anyone can say anything." 20/20 ended that entire webcast by saying: "The Internet is giving consumers new power. But not all the complaints are relevant or trustworthy." Well, neither is the reporting done at 20/20, as I proved in my last post! I guess I expect a well funded traditional media like ABC to have the resources to do a proper investigation of the facts vs. taking GE's word for something, and then portraying Jacob Lodwick in a poor light.
That opinion of mine makes me tend to classify 20/20's webcast as partial disinformation due to their not checking to see if Jacob's complaint had any validity to it. As a consumer advocate, I almost get the feeling that traditional media (ABC's 20/20 in this case) is resentful of Consumer-generated media (CGM) as described in this article entitled "The Pocket Guide to Consumer Generated Media" .
However, when I did some further research by contacting GE (who tries to be a good consumer oriented company, in my opinion), I found out some very interesting information that I'll detail next.
My last post has a "10/25/06 UPDATE" that explains how GE quietly (it appears) changed their "Use and Care Manual" (the "instructions") on the GXCF20E. I didn't know until I got the help of James P. Campbell (President and Chief Executive Officer - GE Appliances & Lighting), who had someone in the appropriate department inform me that "The unit you refer to - GXCF20E is an older model produced several years ago which had a “round top probe.” We no longer produce that model and I’m glad to inform you we’ve redesigned the probe and use it with all current GE water dispensers. The new probe uses a “pointed probe” to pierce both the traditional solid cap and the newer two piece cap, without removal of the entire cap. The redesigned probe was implemented to improve versatility and ease of use for our customers."
GE's instructions (which still has the GXCF20E listed on page 4 of their "Use and Care Manual"), should have told me that GE did indeed change the design of their "probe" to allow for use with solid rubberized caps on 5 gallon water bottles. My suggested disclaimer wasn't needed as the GXCF20E is now discontinued! But, maybe a GE recall notice to all consumers who bought the originally designed "round top probe" model (like Jacob Lodwick) might have been in order. Maybe one was done, I don't know for sure?
Nevertheless, these facts are proof positive that Jacob Lodwick (who's "round top probe" can be seen in his video) HAD to take the entire solid cap off in order to place the bottle on the support collar! Yet, someone else at GE told me that: "If you look at the consumer's blog (with Jacob's video), you can easily see he removed the entire cap from the bottle. The use and care instructions specifically caution consumers NOT to remove the entire cap. Had the consumer followed the instructions he would not have had spillage. Also, he immediately tired to fill a glass so the water flow was weak. Again, the use and care instructions specifically say to wait for the tank to fill. I hope this is clear." We'll never know if 20/20 was intentionally misled by GE, due to "timing" issues, in getting John Stossel to say: "GE says he (Jacob) didn't read the instructions." If so, that would be "disinformation". If not, then it was innocent misinformation.
I'll assume that that last GE person I just quoted wasn't aware that Jacob had a "round top probe" on his GXCF20E. But, I must agree with that same person at GE that Jacob may not have waited long enough for the "tank to fill", judging by looking at his viral video. So, if Jacob did read the instructions and saw the part on waiting for the "tank to fill", then he was part of the "disinformation". Otherwise, it was innocent "misinformation" done and said while mad at GE.
So, the "media" (ABC's 20/20), the buyer (Jacob Lodwick), and the seller (GE) all had a part to play in the possible "disinformation", or definite "misinformation" that the viewers (like me) of 20/20's webcast and Jacob's viral video had to deal with.
I hope more quality, consumer viral videos are done along with all kinds of consumer generated media from legitimately victimized and, especially, "positive experience" consumers. However, l do hope all parties involved do their homework before they publish Internet information that remains a long time. Or, at least, they update incorrect information as the truth, "whole truth", and nothing but the truth, comes to light. Otherwise, misinformation will be passed on throughout the entire "downstream" of word of mouth information.
The integrity of media, buyer, and seller have a lot to do with the original INTENT at the time, and ongoing FOLLOW-UP of those parties. Remember, "integrity" was the most looked up word for 2005 in Merriam-Webster. What word will it be for 2006, "propaganda" or journalistic "ethics", which includes the principle of "limitation of harm"?
See My 11/8/06 UPDATE - "Victimized Consumer's Time & Seller Online Reputation Mgt" with follow up information relating to "Online Reputation Management" and "Google Bombing".