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A hashtag for taxi riders to share experiences backfires spectacularly

An Australian taxi association is insisting its Twitter campaign inviting customers to share their experiences has not been an epic fail, despite thousands of responses lambasting drivers for an apparently poor service.

The #YourTaxis campaign was launched on Monday at a time when the Victorian Taxi Association is considering how best to take on Uber, which, true to form, has been upsetting local cab firms in Melbourne as well as other Australian cities.

While the association’s boss, David Samuel, told the Guardian at the start of the campaign that he wanted honest feedback about its service and therefore expected criticism, the sheer volume of negative responses – some of them even alleging criminal behavior – has likely taken the association by surprise. Among the many negative tweets claiming to describe personal experiences… 

…are links to news stories showing Australian taxi drivers in a less than flattering light.

Sadly for the association, positive responses are few and far between. Looking through the hundreds tweeted in the last hour alone, we did manage to find one:

Related: Check out these scandalous social media fails

Despite the social media mauling – and in response to it – the association issued a press release on Tuesday bravely claiming that its campaign was going to plan.

“The outpouring of feedback on social media is being reported as a social media fail of epic proportions – not from our perspective,” the release said, adding, “Social media is designed to offer the opportunity to engage directly with the community. YourTaxis has delivered exactly this.”

In the same release, CEO Samuel said, “This was never about selling something, this is about starting a direct conversation with everyone who uses Victorian taxis and giving them an opportunity to tell us what they think. This is what we have achieved.”

He went on, “The response online over the past 24 hours isn’t anything we didn’t expect. We asked for feedback and we got it. The good and the bad and everything in between.” Truth is, however, the responses have been rarely good, overwhelmingly bad, with virtually nothing in between. And they’re still pouring in.

This isn’t the first time – and won’t be the last – that an organization’s Twitter campaign has come off the rails. The NYPD, McDonald’s, UK supermarket chain Waitrose, and Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, to name but a few, have all seen efforts to embrace social media end in disaster.