A video store owner in North Carolina is tapping into the power of public embarrassment to recoup her debts.
Christie Ross, the owner of the Video Cafe in Harnett County, publicly displays the names of about 300 customers who owe the store money on what she calls a "wall of shame," according to WRAL.
The reason? She claims to have lost over $26,000 in unreturned merchandise and unpaid fees over the past three years.
"It probably is harsh, but the way I look at it is -– a lot of these people have cussed us. They have told us, 'Who cares about late fees?'" Ross told WRAL.
About 40 percent of the people who were on the list -- which she also posted to Facebook -- have paid their debt since she first displayed the "wall of shame," NBC-17 reports. Ross also told NBC-17 that were it not for the list, she would have to shut down the store.
But Ross's creative debt retrieval method had the reverse effect on customer Tanya Glover who was enraged after learning her name had been made public. She told NBC-17 that not only is she not paying her debt, but she may also pursue legal action if Ross's "wall of shame" isn't taken down.
"I understand how it is to struggle. We're all struggling right now, but it just wasn't a professional way to go about it. I hope she gets what's coming to her - tongue in cheek," Glover told NBC-17.
Ross insists upon the legality of the practice, telling WRAL that she consulted an attorney beforehand. But North Carolina law has a clause that prohibits debt collectors from unreasonably publicizing information regarding a consumer's debt, which according to the measure includes but is not limited to "disclosing any information relating to a consumer's debt by publishing or posting any list of consumers..."
Ross isn't the only one using public shaming tactics to retrieve unpaid debts. More than half of state governments have now published a list of tax evaders online -- a cyber-shaming technique that has gained popularity as states struggle to recoup revenue as a result of the economic downturn, The Huffington Post reported in April. New York's tax department website published a shame list four months ago, naming celebrities such as Damon Dash and Pamela Anderson and companies like American Express and Cantor Fitzgerald as tax cheats.
Turn Your Car Into A Negative Ad
A <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/xqc6h/i_love_it_when_people_take_shit_into_their_own/" target="_hplink">Reddit user</a> launched a negative ad campaign on his car after he claimed a car dealership <a href="http://now.msn.com/vehicle-has-signs-on-it-claiming-car-dealer-that-sold-it-is-a-liar" target="_hplink">bilked him</a> out of $9,000.
Jump Out Of A Moving Plane
An Air Asia passenger caused quite a panic after he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/air-asia-passenger-causes-panic-leaps-from-plane_n_1746430.html" target="_hplink">opened an emergency exit and jumped out of a taxiing aircraft</a>. According to reports, the flight had been delayed an hour when the passenger, only identified as Chong, bolted toward the exit. Subsequently, the flight was delayed along with other outgoing flights.
Cause A Social Media Stir
When Netflix tried to instill its second price hike in 8 months, angry customers <a href="https://www.facebook.com/netflix/posts/10150234431168870" target="_hplink">flocked to social media</a> to unleash their fury over the pricing plan changes. The company didn't revoke the price hike, and more than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/22/netflix-price-hike_n_1166148.html" target="_hplink">800,000 Netflix customers jumped ship</a> as a result.
Foreclose On A Bank
Warren Nyerges and his attorney <a href="http://moneyland.time.com/2011/06/06/homeowner-forecloses-on-bank-of-america-yes-you-heard-that-right/" target="_hplink">served a local Bank of America branch with a foreclosure order</a> for failing to pay Nyerges' legal fees after a botched foreclosure proceeding. Eventually, the bank wrote a check for $5,772.88 to satisfy Nyerges' request.
Do Your Research
Dick Bove, a well-known bank analyst, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/dick-bove-wells-fargo_n_1703840.html" target="_hplink">blasted Wells Fargo</a> in a <a href="http://dealbreaker.com/uploads/2012/07/WFC072312-Service.pdf" target="_hplink">well-researched analyst note</a> after the bank botched his personal account with extra fees, screwed up his mortgage refinancing and gave him horrible customer service.
Take It To The Press
Taylor McKinley <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/23/bank-fee-fifth-third-bank_n_1297200.html" target="_hplink">told The Huffington Post</a> his tale of bank account he thought was was closed that ended up racking up $438.35 in fees. After HuffPost contacted Fifth Third Bank to verify the bank's policies, it reversed the fees it had charged McKinley.
Create A Change.org Petition
A disgruntled T-Mobile customer <a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/t-mobile-make-t-mobile-stop-their-bad-customer-service" target="_hplink">created a petition</a> on Change.org to protest the company's "bad customer service."
We're not sure <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBd0shBeMck&feature=player_detailpage" target="_hplink">what this dealership did</a> to make this customer so angry, but they are surely paying for it.
Commit Insurance Fraud
According to a study by Accenture, 55 percent of consumers say bad service from an insurance company is more likely to make them <a href="http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/getting-revenge-against-your-insurance-company/" target="_hplink">commit fraud against the company</a>.
Create A Viral YouTube Video
While traveling with his band members in 2008, Dave Carroll witnessed United Airlines baggage handlers throwing his $3,500 Taylor guitar. The guitar ended up severely damaged, and Carroll pursued the airline for payment, which he was denied. As a result, Carroll wrote and produced three <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo" target="_hplink">YouTube music videos</a> about his poor experience that have netted over 14 million views. Carroll has since also <a href="http://www.davecarrollmusic.com/book/" target="_hplink">written a book</a>, embarked on a <a href="http://bigbreaksolutions.com/events/?utm_source=UnitedBreaksGuitarscom" target="_hplink">speaking tour</a> and created his own <a href="http://gripevine.com/" target="_hplink">customer gripe site</a>.