- You may feel like a complaint to a company falls on deaf ears, but some companies have made significant changes after feedback from customers.
- Steph Curry invited a young basketball fan to design a pair of shoes with him after she complained his designs were only on sale in the boys’ department.
- Decades before she was famous, a young Meghan Markle challenged a company over its gendered marketing campaign – and they changed it.
- Elon Musk rolled out Tesla software updates after drivers contacted him on Twitter.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When you’re not happy with a company or its service, it’s easy to feel they don’t care.
But in some cases, angry consumers – including children – have contacted a company over a decision or a design, and those companies have actually done something about it.
Here are cases where everyday people have convinced a company to change.
When a 5-year-old girl and her mom wrote to the Gap asking for more clothing options beyond “just pink and princesses and stuff like that,” its president and CEO, Jeff Kirwan, put his team to work.
In 2017, Alice Jacobs noticed T-shirts with superheroes and “Star Wars” designs were only available in the boys’ section, so she wrote to the company to ask why. After her mom shared her shopping experience with the Washington Post, president and CEO Jeff Kirwan reached out.
“You are right,” he said in a letter to Alice. “I think we can do a better job offering even more choices that appeal to everyone. I’ve talked with our designers and we’re going to work on even more fun stuff that I think you’ll like.”
T-shirts with “Star Wars,” superheroes, and other graphics are now available in the girls’ department at the Gap.
When a 9-year-old girl wrote to Steph Curry to ask why his shoe designs were only in the boys’ section, he fixed the situation — and even released a pair of shoes with her help.
- Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
When Riley Morrison (pictured left) needed a new pair of shoes for the basketball season, she was hoping to get some designed by one of her favorite players, Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry. But when she went to the Under Armour website, she found his shoes, the Curry 5s, only listed in the boys’ section. So she decided to write to him.
“I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all-girls basketball camp,” Morrison wrote in the letter, which went viral in November 2018. “I hope you can work with Under Armour to change this, because girls want to rock the Curry 5s, too.”
Curry took note.
“I appreciate your concern and have spent the past 2 days talking to Under Armour about how we can fix the issue,” Curry wrote in a public note posted to his Twitter page. “Unfortunately, we have labeled smaller sizes as ‘boys’ on the website. We are correcting this now!”
But Curry took his apology one step further when he designed a new, purple sneaker, the Curry 6, with Morrison’s help – in honor of International Women’s Day.
When a Tesla driver tweeted at Elon Musk to request a new feature, the CEO agreed it was a good idea and promised to make it happen.
- Getty Images
In August 2017, a Tesla customer, Paul Franks, tweeted at CEO Elon Musk, “Can you guys program the car once in park to move back the seat and raise the steering wheel? Steering wheel is wearing.”
Less than 30 minutes later, Musk tweeted back, “Good point. We will add that to all cars in one of the upcoming software releases.”
Just three months later, Tesla rolled out an updated “easy entry” feature in some of its models to help drivers “get in and out of the driver’s seat more easily.”
“When you park, the steering wheel and driver’s seat will automatically adjust for an easier exit,” the release notes said. “After you return to the vehicle, they automatically adjust back to the recent driving profile when you step on the brake.”
It was just one of many suggestions that Musk appeared to take on board from Twitter users.
As a child — long before she became a household name — Meghan Markle complained about sexist language in a TV commercial, and the company changed it.
Decades before she married a prince, Meghan Markle was already making waves. When she was just 11, she contacted Procter & Gamble, asking them to change the tagline on a washing liquid commercial: “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”
“I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things – that mom does everything,” she said in a 1993 Nick News segment on Nickelodeon, which was resurfaced by Inside Edition.
The company later changed the tagline to “People all over America.”
A group of teenagers boycotted Abercrombie & Fitch over offensive slogans on its T-shirts — and the brand pulled the line.
In 2005, a group of nearly two dozen teenage girls launched a nationwide “girlcott” against Abercrombie & Fitch over some of its T-shirt slogans. One shirt read, “With These, Who Needs Brains?” across the chest.
“Girls need to know it’s not necessary to wear these shirts, and that if they stop buying them, then Abercrombie will stop selling them,” said 13-year-old Jettie Fields, MTV reported.
Their boycott, which had been planned while the girls discussed how to make a difference in their community, swiftly caught the attention of the media and garnered support. Abercrombie pulled the designs, and the teenagers offered to help them come up with more empowering slogans.
“We recognize that the shirts in question, while meant to be humorous, might be troubling to some,” the company said.
Fields added, “The fact that we were able to take down a huge corporation and have them listen to us, that’s an awesome victory.”
A publishing company also took note when a 6-year-old girl said she was “very sad” to see a book on bugs was described on the cover as “a book for boys.”
Parker Dains, from California, wasn’t happy when she saw “The Baddest Book of Bugs” was branded “for boys.”
In a letter to publisher Abdo, she wrote, “You should change from ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too,” the Mercury News reported in 2014.
“You brought up a very good point,” the publisher responded, “there should certainly be a ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ for everyone. After all, girls can like ‘boy’ things too!”
The publishers later dropped the “for boys” from the title of the series and sent Parker a collection of new books.
The company’s editor in chief, Paul Abdo, said in a statement, “We are impressed with the difference she has made at such a young age, and know that this moment of impact will stay with her and us for years to come.”
Another young girl inspired a toy company to add female army figurines to its lineup.
- BMC Toys/Facebook
In 2019, 6-year-old Vivian Lord wrote to Jeff Imel, the president of BMC Toys, after being dissatisfied with his Green Army Men figurines. She demanded to know: “Why do you not make girl army men?” She even included drawings by her sister that showed potential designs.
It wasn’t the first time he had thought about designing female soldiers, but financing new figurines had always been an obstacle for Imel, the company’s only full-time employee, NPR reported. However, the young girl’s letter was the push he needed.
“It was a heartfelt letter,” he said. “And it reminded me of being a kid and always wanting that toy that you couldn’t get in the gumball machine. So I really looked into it.”
After conducting research, he decided to move forward with the female figurines and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project. There will be 15 different designs, which will be available for purchase later this year.
In an update on his company’s blog in December, Imel wrote, “You might be wondering about the little girl from Arkansas whose letter started the Plastic Army Women media frenzy over the past few months.
“Her mom sent me a couple of updates on the final day of the Kickstarter and relayed that Vivian jumped up and down when she heard we added the Military Working Dog & Handler, and asked if there were really going to be 12 different women soldiers. I had the happy task of letting them know there will be 15 different women soldiers, plus the dog and a stretcher accessory.”
Another little girl wrote to Lego when she noticed only the boys’ toys went on adventures and had jobs — unlike the girls’ toys.
“Today I went to a store and saw Legos in two sections the girls pink and the boys blue,” Charlotte Benjamin, 7, wrote in the letter, which SocImages shared on Twitter in 2014. “All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.”
In response, Lego said there were a “variety of female minifigures” on offer, and that it was the company’s mission “to offer any child – regardless of their age, gender or interests – a relevant Lego play experience.”
Perhaps coincidentally, Lego also said it had been considering creating more female characters, and just months later, it released a female-centric Research Institute play set. Designed by geophysicist Ellen Kooijman, it encouraged children to play as a paleontologist, astronomer, or chemist – and it sold out immediately.
A London resident pestered a supermarket chain over its problematic delivery times, forcing the company to stop making them.
- Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Nigel Cannings battled a British supermarket chain, Tesco, over its grocery delivery service, accusing them of parking their trucks in ways that blocked local traffic during busy hours. After a lengthy battle, he forced them to stop making night deliveries, according to the BBC News Magazine.
“I gave up two to three hours every week over the course of two years. My wife and family all thought I was completely barking mad. They did appreciate the end result if not the pain involved,” he told the magazine.
As for why he put in all that effort, he added, “Everyone stands there and says ‘why doesn’t someone do something?’ Well I thought that person was going to be me.”