Point of view: Brands are not human

Molly Flatt

Earlier this year, supermarket giant Tesco recruited online in the UK for a night shift role, offering wages of 'Job Seekers Allowance plus expenses'. In layman's terms? Nada and a bus fare. Apparently part of the government's Sector Based Work Academies (SBWA) scheme, the role sparked Twitter outrage, with people condemning it as 'nothing less than modern slavery'.

Now, the @UKTesco Twitter team is usually a case study in excellent social customer care. Despite having almost 20,000 followers, their tweets are consistently quick, warm, personal and, above all, genuinely helpful. But when faced with thousands of angry tweets, they resorted to firing off the same for several hours: "[@whoever] This is an error made by Jobcentre Plus. It should be an advertisement for work experience with a guaranteed job at the end." Better than ignoring them? Perhaps, but it had the startling effect of making a human team of respondents sound like robots.