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Insurance company sympathies ring hollow on Twitter

Progressive tweets

It's not unusual for consumers to take to Twitter to complain about — or praise — a company for products or actions. But sometimes a company hops on social media to do what it thinks is the right thing, then ham-handedly botches it. Twice. Gather 'round for the tale of Progressive vs. the Fisher Family.

The Progressive Insurance Twitter account is normally chipper and upbeat, serving up tips about rental car savings or encouraging customers to send direct messages about long hotline hold times and other nuisances.

But when Matt Fisher, brother of a woman who was killed in a June 2010 car accident by a reckless driver, began tweeting and writing about the case, and then took legal action, the result was awkwardly unwelcome — not to mention greater-than-140-character — tweeting by Progressive.

This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they've had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations. Again, this is a tragic situation, and we're sorry for everything Mr. Fisher and his family have gone through.

And when an army of Twitter users took to the short-messaging service to fight on Fisher's behalf, the insurance firm took to repeating the message, word for word. Gawker writer Louis Peitzman noted that the Progressive statement was "tweeted over and over again to Progressive's critics ... As of this writing, it has been posted 16 times."

"It doesn't help that Progressive mascot Flo's smiling face is next to each copy-pasted tweet. Though surely unintentional, it adds insult to injury," he wrote, though as of Tuesday, Flo's photo was gone and the insurance company was just using its name next to its tweets.

NBC News has contacted Progressive comment, and will update this piece when we hear back.

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