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Consumer Vigilantes

Memo to Corporate America: Hell now hath no fury like a customer scorned
Callaway put his Cingular complaint to music and posted it on YouTube (left) Comcast customer Salup has decided blogs are the best bet for  getting action (middle) Dee started firing off e-mails to US Airways brass while waiting for hours on a runway
Callaway put his Cingular complaint to music and posted it on YouTube (left) Comcast customer Salup has decided blogs are the best bet for getting action (middle) Dee started firing off e-mails to US Airways brass while waiting for hours on a runway Photograph by Brian Smale (left), Brian Smith (middle) and Chris Casaburi (right); mask by Anne Koch set design

In the annals of customer service, 2007 will go down as the year fed-up consumers finally dropped the hammer. In August a 76-year-old retired nurse named Mona Shaw smashed up a keyboard and a telephone in a Manassas (Va.) Comcast (CMCSA) office after she says the cable operator failed to install her service properly. During her first visit to the branch outlet, the AARP secretary says she was left sitting on a bench in the hallway for two hours waiting for a manager. She returned, armed with a hammer, and let loose the rallying cry "Have I got your attention now?" Afterward, she was arrested, fined $345, and became a media sensation, capturing the hearts of frustrated consumers everywhere. (Says Comcast: "We apologize for any customer service issues that Ms. Shaw experienced.")

Three months earlier, in May, Michael Whitford uploaded a video in which he chooses among a golf club, an ax, and a sword before deciding on a sledgehammer as his weapon of choice for bashing his nonfunctioning Macbook to smithereens. In the video, Whitford, a systems engineer from Chandler, Ariz., says that Apple (AAPL) declined to cover the repair under warranty, citing damage from a spilled liquid. More than 340,000 people have viewed the black-and-white smash-up on YouTube (GOOG). Whitford, whom BusinessWeek was not able to reach for comment, denies in the video that he spilled anything. In early July, he wrote on his blog that Apple had replaced his laptop. "I'm very happy now," he wrote. "Apple has regained my loyalty."