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Angry SA Drivers Lash Out on Social Media

Author: Megan Ellis
Date: 2017-05-15
Companies are becoming more accountable to their customers due to social media – but South African drivers are also using it as an outlet.
Companies are becoming more accountable to their customers due to social media - with the ordinary citizen being able to reach most large companies via Twitter or Facebook. However, not all comments are genuine questions - but rather a platform to air grievances. Pity the social media manager of a company scorned. Many companies know the wrath of online users. Eskom was the target of much social media hate during load shedding. Meanwhile, Woolworths and Bic have also been the subject of social media furor. So if high-end supermarkets and pen companies aren't immune to angry social media users, what happens to companies who cross SA's notoriously angry drivers? We took a look at social media to find out:

SANRAL Takes Flak From Social Media

SANRAL has likely always received complaints from the public, but the advent of e-Tolls put the company squarely in front of South Africans' sights. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the company's Facebook page. While some people in Gauteng have given up over e-Tolls, there are those whose rage still burns bright through their comments. Naturally, the company posts news about its projects and bursaries on its page for good PR. But it doesn't take long for trolls to descend and unleash their wrath. SANRAL recently posted news on government's review on reckless driving penalties. Criticism was quick to follow.
"What's the sentence for corrupt officials within Sanral that cannot and refuse to explain the billions of rands of irregular expenditures? The irregular tendering policies and activities? The incompetence of its board members and decision-making officials?" one commenter said. "Focus on cleaning up your own act before worrying about the road traffic ordinance," he added.
Some of the comments directed at the company are particularly angry.
On a post about regional growth being dependent on quality roads, one commenter said: "You could probably improve it, by shooting yourselves in the head and then letting competent people who are not out to enrich themselves off the public purse, take over and do a proper job!"
However, others make light of the situation by teasing the company.
In a promotional image for a bird sanctuary near a SANRAL highway, one user said: "I'm afraid to look at this beautiful birds because SANRAL might bill me for just looking at them [sic]."
On Twitter, users have recently been focused on alleged double charges from SANRAL for e-tolls.
"Hey @SANRAL_etoll .. why can't your system add? Two transactions? Really ??? [sic]," one user tweeted. "@SANRAL_etoll 2/2 i only have one car but recently I received a statement with another car that i do not recognize, please rectify this [sic]," another said. Who can be surprised at the continuing outrage, especially after we reported that they cannot even get the basic summons correct. 

Other Targets Of Driver Rage

SANRAL isn't the only target which is derided via social media for angering motorists. The Department of Transport gets its own number of insults via social media. Tweets soar during heavy traffic or when traffic lights are out. 
"Where is @DoTransport in Fourways at the moment? Always leaving the real work up to the OutSurance," one Twitter user said.
The department has a 2.4 rating on its Facebook page due to a number of bad reviews, with the page going silent in 2012, but remaining active. Regional transport departments like the KZN Department of Transport are not immune from criticism either.
"The most corrupt department of all. Charging bribes for licenses...for jobs....for pdp....etc. bribes for just about everything. KZN Transport is rotten to the core," one review of the department said.
Metro police are also often the targets of driver anger.
"Useless criminals who are more interested in taking bribes from legal drivers than stopping the criminals who infest our streets. Wish they would just disband, safety would probably go up without this criminal racket "policing" our roads," one Facebook user said of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. "Would be great if any of you could actually get off of your backsides and POLICE the roads!!! You know - do the job you are hired to do?!" another commented.

Is All The Anger Effective?

While there's no shortage of driver anger, does it actually help to insult the company on social media? Many companies are quick to respond to complaints via their social media channels, but direct insults generally go ignored. This also depends on the company's social media manager - some are just there to handle PR and update pages. They don't necessarily have the ability to escalate complaints. Companies are also more likely to respond with a public statement depending on the number of complaints about a particular issue. However, if a company is subject to daily insults and criticism, the frustrations of customers aren't usually addressed. A PR campaign won't save SANRAL from public resentment, so their social media is more about updating the public and maintaining positive coverage rather than actually changing the public's perception.

So what can you do to make your complaints more effective?

Using the right platform is the first step. If you see a company or organization ignores social media complaints, rather find a staff member to contact. Details are often found on the company's website. Getting a response from PR-conscious companies via social media can be effective, but an influx of messages may mean your comments get lost in a deluge. You may have to try other avenues if this is the case. Finally, you can use various rating and review sites. Companies who are conscious and protective of their reputation will take certain ratings seriously. CompareGuru offers GuruGrade, which allows you to review specific companies depending on your experiences with them. Facebook is becoming an increasingly popular way to review companies - but company pages need to have this feature enabled. They can, therefore, shut out reviews if they want to. If you have a complaint about a company, or need an issue settled, how do you contact them?

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