Social Media Aids in Boy’s Wheelchair Replacement

This story caught my eye today. It’s...
Social Media Aids in Boy’s Wheelchair Replacement
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  • This story caught my eye today. It’s about a little 8-year old boy who’s dying from muscular dystrophy.

    As part of his dying wishes, Tanner traveled to New York to take a tour through Central Park. He flew with Air Canada. In Canada, the name Air Canada is synonymous with “Who Cares Canada” instead. Simply put, they’re pretty much the crappest airline around.

    Yesterday, however, they outdid themselves. They broke Tanner’s $15,000 wheelchair.

    This is an 8-year old boy who can’t get around without his wheelchair. His needs mean that the chair is almost like an extra body part for him.

    As an example, think of yourself trying to breathe on only one lung – that’s how important Tanner’s chair is.

    So, bit of a problem would be an understatement.

    No problem, you’d think. Air Canada broke it, they’ll replace it, right? Wrong.

    They told Tanner’s family that they can’t do anything until this coming Monday – five days later. Five days for Tanner to be bed-ridden because Air Canada screwed up. Bad move, Air Canada – we live in the age of social media and instant backlash.

    You might recall the outcry when U.S. air carrier United Airlines broke a passenger’s guitar, and the protracted period he went through to get a replacement. Eventually he made a  YouTube video that saw United Airline take a negative PR hit they were never prepared for.

    You would have thought airlines would have learned from that escapade, especially when you have some great uses of social media from the industry by the likes of  JetBlue and  Southwest Airlines.

    But then again, this is Air Canada we’re talking about.

    Despite an  outcry on Twitter; despite the news story that leads this post; despite the family pleading their case about how crucial it is for Tanner to have a wheelchair, so far there’s been nothing from the company apart from a “loaner” that Tanner can’t use.

    Instead, it’s taken a  company in New York called Mobility Solutions to come to Tanner’s rescue. All through Twitter. All through helping a little boy out. All through goodwill; not through responsibility of breaking an item and replacing it.

    Nice job, Air Canada.

    Now I know times are tough, since you announced your second quarter results and showed a loss of $203 million. But then again, you made an operating income of $75 million, compared to a loss of $113 million last year. So you have some spare change.

    But not enough to replace a dying kid’s $15,000 wheelchair that you broke?

    Maybe there’s a reason. Maybe there’s red tape you have to sign off. Maybe you have to investigate what happened. Fair enough – that’s business.

    But there’s business and there’s good business. You screwed up. You replace. Then you find out what happened.

    It’s not so hard, is it?

    And while you’re thinking about that, you might want to look at sorting out  your Twitter profile, or updating your Facebook page. That’s where the  questions are happening. If you had these up-to-date, some things you could have done:

    • Addressed the concerns of Twitter users that are calling you out.
    • Used your Facebook wall to keep folks updated on what’s happening.
    • Used the  #TutusForTanner hashtag on Twitter to offer apologies and advise what went wrong/how it’s being fixed.
    • Connected with the news outlets social feeds and updated via there as well.

    The great thing about social media is that any mistakes made on it can be rectified on it as well. You have that chance.

    Or is it still “Who Cares Canada”?


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