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How truth and channels affect customer communications and subscription billing

Customers have always expected honesty from their service providers. One could even argue that advances in technology and evolved payment models – such as subscription billing practices – have made consumers even more critical of the businesses they interact with. Customer service, value and ease of use remain their highest priorities.

To see this point illustrated in the real world, one only has to look at the history of Tidal. This streaming music platform, owned by rapper and music mogul Shawn Carter, has been plagued with negative media attention since its beginnings. Most recently, Yahoo Finance reported a Chicago law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Tidal, Carter – more commonly known as Jay-Z – and rapper Kanye West.

A lawsuit claims Tidal misled its subscribers.A lawsuit claims Tidal misled its subscribers.

Promising value
The $5 million lawsuit, filed by Edelson PC on behalf of Justin Baker-Rhett, claims Tidal, Carter and West lied about the service’s exclusive value in order to obtain new subscribers under false pretenses. On Feb. 14, 2016, West released his latest album, ‘The Life of Pablo,’ exclusively on Tidal. He made several public statements – most famously on Twitter – claiming the album would never be released in stores or on any other platform. These proclamations proved to be untrue – West released ‘The Life of Pablo’ on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and Google Play on April 1.

Yahoo Finance obtained official documents from the lawsuit that claim neither West nor S. Carter Enterprises – Carter’s holding company – ever intended for the album to remain exclusively on Tidal.

“To the contrary, they – knowing that Tidal was in trouble but not wanting to invest their own money to save the company – chose to fraudulently induce millions of American consumers into paying for Tidal’s rescue,” the document states.

Baker-Rhett believes this turn of events ultimately means the music service obtained members’ personal and payment information illegally. He invited other Tidal members to join his lawsuit and wants the company to delete their data and stop charging them for the service.

“This lawsuit emphasizes the importance of clear and accurate customer communication.”

Truth and means in customer communication
This lawsuit emphasizes the importance of clear and accurate customer communication. Businesses operating on a subscription management model need customers that trust them, otherwise they won’t commit to recurring payments.

At the same time, West’s actions hint at the numerous ways and channels customers receive information from their service providers, whether or not these means are intended by the business. West made his statements regarding the album’s exclusive nature on a popular social media platform. Despite the fact that Twitter made its rise as a casual service and is often viewed as a less professional channel than email, the site has become serious enough that statements made on it can be held against a public figure. It’s reasonable to believe West’s Twitter statements truly applied to Tidal and his album and weren’t just off-hand comments, Baker-Rhett claimed. Only the lawsuit itself will confirm the validity of this statement, but it does indicate the manner in which consumers expect to interact with a business.

No matter where a company makes a statement – on Twitter, through email, as a press release or otherwise – customers expect it to be true. They also expect businesses to interact with them across a multitude of channels. Gone are the days of receiving information only through the mail – consumers expect to find a business anywhere and everywhere. In marketing, this concept is called a multichannel or omnichannel approach. It means providing consumers with an accurate consistent experience no matter how they choose to interact with a business.

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Vindicia Team Blogs

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