A trip to the grocery store in pandemic times is often full of restraint.
Many are pushing carts slower through the aisles so they can stop on a dime, more side-stepping is happening and people are scanning their options with eyes instead of hands.
But back home on the internet, all that restraint is abandoned. In the safety of a virus-free house, internet drama is as bold as ever.
For Costco, the wholesale supermarket with locations across the globe, that mixture of careful real-life shoppers and Facebook trolls amounts to a two-front publicity war. Add in an economy when revenue is cherished like never before.
But Costco just received some unprompted reinforcements from an LA-based comedian.
With a phony account, he completely dismissed an online complaint on Costco's behalf. The now-viral post begs the question do snarky customer service clap backs actually help a company's public image?
The original post features the timely, believable response to a complaint made by someone named Sharon.
Hope This Helps/Facebook
In response to the mask complaint, a convincing-looking account named "Costco Wholesale" fires back with zero patience for the anti-masker:
"Thank you for taking such a brave stand, Sharon. We look forward to the documentary they will make about you some day."
The phony exchange quickly made the rounds on the internet.
Evidently, people take great pleasure in watching a complaint fall on deaf, sassy ears. The post eventually gathered enough steam for BuzzFeed News to reach out to its creator, comedian Ben Palmer.
The post originally appeared on his Facebook page "Hope This Helps"—a page dedicated to all sorts of trolling behavior within comment sections and niche online groups.
Palmer told BuzzFeed News how the post came after some nudging. They noted the unexpected popularity of this post in particular.
"Someone on my TikTok account said you should go respond to people who are complaining about the mask policy that Costco made so I went over there and responded."
"Usually there's a decent amount of people who know it's not real but this time it seems like it's a larger amount of people who think it's real."
Perhaps the fact that the post seems more legitimate is a sign of the chaotic times.
Comments on the post featured a fair amount of people congratulating Costco for the company's conviction. Apparently those folks didn't get the memo.
Many, however, were aware of the joke. The trolling had their full support.
With more businesses reopening, we can expect precautions to be a typical piece of the process. And with precautions come internet complaints like Sharon's.
Only time will tell if Palmer's joke had some influence on how real companies handle internet anger. Perhaps some actual snarky customer service will rear its head at least once in awhile.