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The bitter aftertaste of Amul's social media war

27-October-2014
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The bitter aftertaste of Amul's social media war

Most netizens have been aware of the role social media played in the defamation of big brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi and KFC for rolling out sub-standard products, and then not paying heed to customer grievances. Usually, the brands do not respond on social media, and decide to either ignore the issue, or address the grievance personally.

But for a swirling social media backlash by a consumer, Amul decided to do things differently. With its 1.2 million Facebook fan base and about 27,700 twitter followers, the brand has been fairly active on social media. So when an aggrieved consumer, Neha Tomar, shared her discontent, Amul promptly responded on the public forum itself.

The Gurgaon resident had purchased a packet of 'Amul Gold' milk, which on heating turned into a stretchy dough. To share this experience, she took to Facebook and published the following post:

The post received over 99,000 shares and 10,000 likes. To investigate the matter personally, Amul sent a team to the customer’s residence.

However, after in-depth investigation, Amul published a long statement to clarify their side of the story.

The statement said: “This is regarding the Facebook post that Ms Neha Tomar has shared on her wall. The details of the matter are as follows:

“The consumer called our customer care on 10th morning at 9.22 am and shared her experience of using Amul Gold Milk on the very same day. She also emailed the complaint to our official email ID on 10th afternoon. As informed by her, the "use by" date of the Amul Milk was 9th of October. The milk got expired in her fridge which was later used by the consumer.

“However, it may be noted that Ms Neha posted her grievance on her Facebook page on 9th October, a day prior to her informing us about the same. Ms Neha Tomar's post on Facebook on 9th Oct, screenshot attached.

“Our officials asked the customer that if she has faced the problem on 10th Oct, how is it possible for you to post the same on 9th on Facebook? We now see that the timing of her post has been changed to 10th.

“On 11th, we visited her residence in Gurgaon and discussed the above.
On 13th we once again visited the customer and provided technical reasons for the incident. We informed her that we checked all the batches of the same Amul Milk and found that there is no problem in any batches including the one which consumer had purchased.

“As mentioned in her post, the consumer was trying to make cheese from sour milk, which turned out to be a stretchy mass. Let us explain why this happened.

“Any natural milk (branded/unbranded) which is acidified (sour) in the chilled condition and then heated shall result in curd mass, which shows stretching property similar to that of mozzarella cheese. We have demonstrated the same in the video attached in which we have used fresh milk, acidified to the pH 5.2 and heated to obtain similar mass as shown by the complainant.

Video:

“We do not understand why the consumer used her official position to make such complaint without knowing the fact.

“The customer when contacted and replacement was provided on 11th Oct, was requested to update her post with a clarification of her satisfaction with explanation provided by us. However it took more than 48 hours for the consumer to mention the same on her wall. She even told that our officers that she will update the same post on 13th evening. But till time of posting this, it has not been updated with correct information. Also, the facts have been carefully concealed by her to generate and sustain the hype.

“We wish to clarify that there has been absolutely no problem with the fresh milk that we supply in the market. Based on the misrepresentation of facts by the said consumer, we infer that the expired milk used by the complainant was deliberately abused to malign the brand. As a brand owned by 3.5 million milk producers, we are serving you from last six decades and we take utmost pride in the quality that we provide to you.”

Watch Amul’s video explaining the same here:



Tomar, however, refuses to take the brands accusations, and shared her reaction with a Facebook post.


The matter is far from over yet. Tomar has been sharing her experience on social media as well as traditional media platforms. Whether it is a genuine grievance, or part of some corporate attack, is yet to be seen. That said, the amount of negative buzz the first viral post created is much higher compared with the buzz created by Amul’s post that has been able to garner only 6,000 likes on Facebook, against 10,000 on Tomar’s post.
 

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