The Weather Channel Demonstrates How Not to Respond to a Complaint on Twitter

For brands, the moral of the story is that if you’re going to respond to a complaint on social media, do so with deference.

the weather channel



Sometimes Twitter campaigns get hijacked by detractors. Perhaps worse is when a brand representative responds poorly to an unhappy customer. Yes, the experts say you should respond to negative comments, but the response certainly shouldn’t be nasty or sarcastic.

Unfortunately, someone at The Weather Channel forgot their manners when responding to a customer complaint on Twitter. When Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns pointed out that The Weather Channel’s app used pictures of Dallas for Fort Worth, someone on the social media team responded with snark.



Burns of course, remained the bigger person and simply reinforced his request to fix the app. But he retweeted TWC’s message, as did his followers with messages acknowledging TWC’s ugly social media behavior.


The Weather Channel later responded with an apology, which was published on the Dallas News The Scoop blog:

This morning one of our team members used sarcasm in an unfortunate and unacceptable way on our Twitter account. It was not our intention to offend and we are sorry that we ​did. We have since apologized to Councilman Burns​ and want to restate that sincere apology and assure him that this tweet does not represent our views. In fact, this is the opposite of how we want to interact with our fans, as we value their input on any occasion. We are taking the necessary steps to be sure something like this does not occur again.


It’s well established that what you say on social media can get you fired, especially when you’re representing the brand. Whether or not the snarky response is a fireable offense is not clear. And perhaps it doesn’t matter because Burns has turned the lemons from the spat into lemonade by launching a campaign with pictures of his city using the hashtag #thisisFortWorth.

For brands, the moral of the story is that if you’re going to respond to a complaint on social media, do so with deference. No need to pick a fight and turn something relatively small into a PR mess.