Buying an expensive device only to find it breaks within a few days will make anyone angry at its manufacturer, but it is useless to take out that anger on its employees. Nintendo Japan is taking a new stand against abusive behavior against its employees, who have the right to refuse to repair or replace items if someone acts in an abusive manner or makes unreasonable demands.
Nintendo received praise from social media users in October when it updated its customer service terms and conditions to include a new section on customer harassment.
The company’s Japanese division has asked customers to refrain from using any behavior beyond what is socially acceptable as a means of fulfilling requests. These behaviors include
- Intimidation or threats
- Insulting or derogatory remarks
- Invasion of privacy
- Excessive requests, such as requests for free repairs after the warranty period has expired
- Demanding an apology from Nintendo or its staff without reasonable cause
- Excessive repetition of the same request or complaint
- Posting defamatory comments on social networks or websites
If Nintendo believes any of these actions have occurred, it may refuse to replace or repair the faulty product. It added that if any behavior is deemed malicious, the company will contact authorities and take appropriate action.
“We made this decision with the certainty that our customers would understand, as we have built a reputation for responding faithfully to our customers,” a Nintendo publicist said.
One expert said Nintendo Japan had “raised awareness and called for social understanding” and that the company’s example would “have a good impact on other companies as well.
While Japan has laws against workplace bullying, there are often no similar legal protections for employees when the abuse comes from customers.
Most of the behaviors listed by Nintendo that go beyond what is socially acceptable should be universally condemned: intimidation, threats, insults, etc. But a few on that list could prove controversial. If a company refuses to handle after-sales, customers are sometimes forced to repeat the same (reasonable) request or complaint, and Nintendo will now have the right to decide what constitutes “reasonable cause” or “excessive demand” on the part of the person.
The biggest point of contention may be “defamatory comments on social networks or websites” actions. Some companies often ignore legitimate customer complaints until they get enough attention on social media and can prove the injustice. If someone says on Twitter that a company is “crap” because they were really treated badly, would that be considered defamatory?
Ultimately, though, this rule change should stop people from hurling insults at staff who aren’t responsible for the broken Nintendo switch they just bought, and that’s a good thing indeed.