Blithering bookseller scores corporate own-goal

Jan 12 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Thanks to today's Guardian for picking up that UK bookseller Waterstone's has sacked a member of staff, Joe Gordon, because of his Blog, The Woolamaloo Gazette, in which he occasionally mentioned bad days at work and satirised his "sandal-wearing" boss.

In the past two months, the bookseller, who helped set up a branch of Waterstone's, ran bookclubs and appeared on radio and TV for his company, mentioned his work twice.

. . . . On one occasion, he ranted about his "sandal-wearing" manager he nicknamed "Evil Boss", which he said was a caricature like the "Pointy Haired Boss" in the Dilbert cartoons. In another posting, Mr Gordon joked about "Bastardstone's".

Rather significantly Ė especially should this case ever find its way to an employment tribunal - Waterstone's has no employee policy that deals with blogging but claims that Gordon's blog "brought the company into disrepute".

We wonder whether it has occurred Waterstone's that most of their customers will think that it is the company that has brought itself into disrepute with its ridiculous over-reaction.

Given that bloggers tend to be a pretty literary lot, this example of corporate stupidity stands to cost Waterstones far more in lost sales, a damaged reputation and a general loss of goodwill than any embarrassment that Joe Gordon could ever have caused them.

As Gordon says, "Öit was a very silly action to dismiss me in this manner since it has made things far more visible, which given the company did not want online discussion to begin with is ironic."

What next? Employees getting fired for complaining about a bad day at the office with their friends after work?

The Woolamaloo Gazette