Normally I like to write about InDesign, DPS, and related technologies, but the nice thing about having my own blog is that I can write about whatever I want and today, I choose to write about Twitter or more accurately, why I use it.

I joined Twitter in July 2008 as a way to keep up with what some of my colleagues were up to but soon found myself caught up in it. A couple of weeks ago I passed 15,000 tweets. Frankly, I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of us or embarrassed by but I assure you, it pales in comparison to many others.

Normally I wouldn’t consider that much of milestone in my life but I’ve found that Twitter can really be a way to reach out to companies and voice both praise and complaints and I thought I’d share a few instances where I probably got more, and most definitely faster, action by tweeting than I would have any other way.

DirecTV vs Versus

Anyone who knows me knows that there’s a part of my brain that doesn’t work quite right when it comes to hockey; especially the New Jersey Devils. I live it and breathe it.

A couple of years ago, DirecTV got into a programming dispute with Versus (now NBC Sports Network) which was the home for NHL national television broadcasts. The channel was pulled and I wasn’t all that happy with either party. Versus didn’t much care what I had to say, but DirecTV tracked me down through my tweets and offered to let me out of my two-year contract, something they were not obligated to do.

Nice touch by a very large company. I asked if offer the was open and was assured it was. My contract was cancelled and I was free to leave whenever I wanted. Since the channel was restored before the playoffs started I decided to stay with them.

Coffee Break

A fun little tweet a few months back about a rather strong, and barely drinkable cup of coffee caught the attention of Tulley’s Coffee. They were kind enough to let me know that they had light and medium roast coffee K-cups that I might like. Before I knew it, I had a box of 24 K-cups delivered right to my door. Hawaiian Blend. Excellent with a little cream and sugar! Thanks for afternoon pick-me-up, Tulleys!

Busy Signal

The Friday before this past Christmas, I realized that my house phone didn’t work. Fortunately about the only people who call are telemarketers such everyone’s friend, Rachel from Cardholder Services. But I do pay Verizon for it and I want it to work. I called from another line and was told it would be week before anyone could come out and fix it. Given that I’ve been paying the inside wire maintenance fee for as long as I can remember and that this is the phone I would need in case I ever did need to call 911 in an emergency, that was less than acceptable.

A couple of tweets later and someone pulled a string or two because a repairman was at my house the first thing Saturday morning.

Grounded in Minneapolis

Finally, the event that prompted this post. About two weeks ago I was in Minneapolis speaking at a session at the Non-Profit Technology Conference. I had a flight home scheduled for Saturday morning at 10:40 and was pleased to see the plane at the gate with plenty of time to spare. Everything looked to be on time until it was announced that there was no heat on the plane and that we had to wait for a mechanic. There was no doubt in my mind that this United Express flight was going to be cancelled and about an hour later it was.

While everyone else was scrambling to find an agent to help, I remembered reading this post by my friend Justin Seeley I tweeted Delta Airlines (knowing they flew the same route) about the cancelled flight to see if they could help. Within minutes they tweeted back that they could if it went through a United agent. Before I could even think about that my cell phone was ringing. It was a United representative who, while everyone was in line for an agent, had tracked me down through my tweet and had me on a flight to Chicago with a connection to Newark in very short order.

While I wasn’t all that pleased about the cancelled flight I did get home “only” four hours late, and United gave me a $100 travel voucher as well.

I guess sometime you just have to be a squeaky wheel and in many instances, it’s Twitter that helps you get the grease.