The video revolution is still a pretty young movement, and sometimes I think we're not really ready for all the challenges its going to bring--specifically with regard to privacy. I've been offering this advice for a few years: wherever you go in life, behave as though you're being filmed, because you probably are. And this week two giants in the shipping industry learned that lesson the hard way, as UPS and FedEx are both facing consumer backlash over bad delivery driver behavior captured on film.
Online Video Teaching FedEx & UPS PR Lessons
It started with the FedEx video. A security camera captures a FedEx driver seriously shirking his duties. He doesn't knock or ring a doorbell, or even make any attempt to see if the recipient was at home. He just walks up, chucks the package over a fence, and walks away. Problem is... that package was a computer monitor, and--surprise surprise--it was broken when the owner opened it.
He was a little upset... understandably. So the security footage provided the perfect opportunity to spread the word on what a terrible experience had. Next stop: YouTube. Here's the video:
Nearly 7 million views later (in just six days), and the customer in question has definitely gotten FedEx's attention, and the company is now facing a serious PR problem. So much so that Senior Vice President Matthew Thornton, III has released his own video (guess he got the short straw).
I wish FedEx had someone on staff who was a little more comfortable in front of the camera, because his awkwardness on camera (understandable for any non-actor) makes him sound less sincere.
Just a couple days later, though, FedEx was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief (and probably break out the bubbly) when UPS hit a "bad delivery video" snag of their own. Seems FedEx drivers aren't the only ones that can misbehave.
Here's a UPS driver that clearly knows the homeowner has cameras--he flips them off--but then still treats the package carelessly. You have to love the idiocy at work there... he knows there's a camera, and he's mad about it... because he doesn't need a babysitter to make sure he's doing his job correctly. And then he goes and does his job incorrectly right on that same camera. That's both inconsiderate and dumb:
The whole thing reminded me of the Netflix Thief--a YouTube video that made the rounds about three years ago where an annoyed homeowner set up a camera to catch the person who kept stealing their Netflix movies:
This isn't shocking. It shouldn't be shocking to any logical individual that of the millions and millions of service workers in this country, some are jerks and don't do their jobs very well. What's shocking is that this kind of thing isn't caught on film so often. I've always assumed that a package delivered unharmed is a blessing. But could this new technology change our culture... make delivery workers more honest?
In the age of online video, you're only a few heartbeats away from viral infamy. Between security cameras, traffic cameras, Google Street View cars, cell phones, & other new technologies, there are more of the world's events being recorded than ever before--a trend that is only going to continue. Is it possible that a monitored society is a better-behaved society? Maybe... but I doubt it. But it might eliminate some of what goes on in public, and maybe move some of our misbehavior behind closed doors.
It's not the first time online video has brought down trouble on a business or individual. Heck, it's election season, so I'm sure we'll have a chance to see a few more online-video-driven political scandals in the next year. This kind of thing is only going to become more common.
I remember a decade ago, when a tainted piece of lettuce in one restaurant location led to a food poisoning panic and ended up closing down one of the largest restaurant chains in the country. In the future, it's just as likely to be a YouTube video as a piece of lettuce that brings down a major company.