Unhappy consumers using social media

Rob Shields takes his consumer gripes straight to the public, in 140 characters or less.

A frustrated Twitter post about a flight delay to Minneapolis last week despite "crystal clear skies" prompted an instant apology from Delta Air Lines and an offer to help book a new flight. When he visited what he considered a messy Chipotle Mexican Grill, he tweeted about his "worst chipotle experience to date" and got an apologetic tweet seconds later from the company and free meal coupons in the mail.

Shields also takes his cues from online complaints: If someone gives a lousy review of a restaurant on Yelp, he won't eat there.

Businesses are grappling with a new world, thanks to social media and increasingly popular review sites such as Yelp. The dynamic has even forced the traditional avenues of consumers' complaints to lay it all out in the open.

Next month, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota will start publishing entire complaints online, something it has never done before.

"This is something people really want," BBB spokesman Dan Hendrickson said. "The Internet has really opened the doors wide."

Read More