dave-mittlemanOnce upon a time, corporations had all the might and power. They could squash the little guy, knowing that there wasn’t much the little guy could do about it on his own. But now, with the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook, the little guy is finding his own voice and is ready to fight back.

Take, for example, Justin Kurtz, a 21-year-old Western Michigan University student who had his car towed from his apartment complex parking lot. The towing company responsible for taking his car,T&J Towing, claimed that Kurtz didn’t have a permit. Kurtz, on the other hand, vehemently argues that the tow crew scraped his permit off his windshield to justify taking his car. However, after getting nowhere with the company and shelling out $118 to get his car back, Kurtz decided to strike back by creating a Facebook page called “Kalamazoo Residents Against T&J Towing”. That page has attracted more than 11,000 members since its creation in February and many have similar complaints against the company.

As a result of the Facebook page, T&J says it has lost half of its commercial towing accounts, including Kurtz’s apartment complex. Consequently, T&J has filed a $750,000 slander and libel lawsuit against Kurtz. Kurtz, an $8.50-an-hour store clerk, countersued T&J for violating his free speech rights and the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Whatever the outcome of the controversy, marketing experts say the episode shows how the Internet and social networking sites have empowered consumers.