Social media antics cause grief at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, others
Difficult customers are nothing new, but social media creators are now seeking to cause trouble in retail stores for the purpose of getting attention on YouTube and other social media outlets.
Pranks include tipping over large merchandise displays (clearly ruining product), turning out the lights, announcing “sales” over the store’s intercom and confronting employees, according to reports from Business Insider and CBS News.
Popular targets have been Walmart, Home Depot, Ikea, Target, McDonald’s and Burger King.
In one case, a YouTuber with over a million subscribers posed as a Walmart store manager, and proceeded to “fire” employees, causing obvious distress.
One prankster noted that the crazier the video, the more views it will get, providing the incentive to do more mayhem. He also explained that he doesn’t feel badly about making such videos because he views them as providing entertainment for subscribers to his channel.
Some videos receive over a million clicks, and the producers are apparently making money off ads and merchandise they sell. One prankster specializes in getting kicked out of McDonald’s with stunts such as yelling at employees and customers through a megaphone or claiming there is a foreign object in his food. He has received letters from the legal department at McDonald’s but still posts videos encouraging others to see how quickly they can get kicked out of the fast food chain. (The record appears to be seven seconds).
In even more serious cases, pranksters have called Burger King restaurants, telling employees that there is a gas leak, causing employees to break out the restaurant’s windows.
One 15-year-old poster noted that he can continue with his pranks until he turns 18 or 21 without really getting into trouble.
Much like younger offenders caught shoplifting, store managers seems to have three options: issuing a strong warning, alerting the child’s parents or calling the police and fully prosecuting. But, many understaffed retailers are unequipped to handle pranksters and aren’t able to respond quickly enough. The mayhem can cause annoyance and distress for customers and, in some cases, reduce employees to tears.
- Social media is making it even harder to work in stores and restaurants – Business Insider
- YouTubers face backlash after “pranking” Walmart employees by pretending to fire them – CBS News
- Why This Prank Makes Burger King Employees Smash Out Windows – YouTube
- Insane Intercom Pranks In Walmart – YouTube
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should retailers deal with pranksters without violating their rights and potentially making matters worse on social media? How should they prepare their staff for such incidents?