Yorkshire Tea’s Response To Online Abuse Adds An Important Layer To The #BeKind Conversation

‘For anyone about to vent their rage online, even to a company, please remember there's a human on the other end of it.'

Rishi Sunak

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Yorkshire Tea came under fire recently after Rishi Sunak, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, shared a picture of him making tea with a giant bag of their teabags. Spending three days fielding angry phone calls and attempts at a boycott, their social media editor has now spoken out condemning the abuse.

‘On Friday, the Chancellor shared a photo of our tea,’ read a tweet from the Yorkshire Tea account. ‘Politicians do that sometimes (Jeremy Corbyn did it in 2017). We weren't asked or involved - and we said so the same day. Lots of people got angry with us all the same.

‘We've spent the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls,’ the post continued. ‘For some, our tea just being drunk by someone they don't like means it's forever tainted, and they've made sure we know it.’

Explaining the company’s shock at how much they’ve been dragged into a ‘political mudfight’, they thanked those who had spoken up in defence of the company ‘in a civil way’ – adding that they are ‘gutted to see some use it as a reason for more nastiness’. However, it was the personal message from the editor that stood out with social media users.

‘Speaking directly now, as the person who's been answering these tweets, I know it could have been much worse,’ the editor said. ‘It's easier to be on the receiving end of this as a brand than as an individual. There's more emotional distance and I've had a team to support me when it got a bit much.

‘But for anyone about to vent their rage online, even to a company - please remember there's a human on the other end of it, and try to be kind,’ they concluded.

The thread itself has received nearly 40,000 likes and over 5,000 responses, but it was that personal message – at near 50,000 likes – that struck social media users particularly at a time when #BeKind has been a trending topic on Twitter since the death of Caroline Flack.

Perhaps some of us who wouldn't dream of hate towards another person online may not think twice about an angry tweet when it’s aimed at a corporate entity. We seem to forget that, just as customer service advisors often have to field the abuse of customers raging at a store's policies or ethics, social media editors too have to deal with this online.

It’s particularly relevant in circumstances like this, where there is a wave of hatred towards a brand versus an individual complaint, but it serves to remind us of the vital takeaway from the entire #BeKind conversation: if you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online – no matter who you’re talking to.

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