To Review or Not to Review……….

I thought it would be a good topic to discuss this week. How does everyone feel about Yelp?  From either the perspective of the consumer or the owner. Is Yelp doing justice or harming those businesses with stamina? I recently had a negative experience with Yelp and being that I always thought of Yelp as being helpful. A local restaurant owner gave me some insight that I had not thought of before. SO, this lead me to do a little research on review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angies List and Yahoo.

Most of the review websites guidelines are fairly similar. They all request that your information be honest, only first hand experiences are allowed, no personal information, slander or threatening messages in any way. Most of them are free, except for AngiesList.com. They make sure that business owners, affiliates, vendors and ex co-workers are not allowed to review the establishment either. Thus controlling management from uploading tons of false reviews. Disgruntled employees are not allowed to share their experiences, as this is not from a consumer point of view. Owners are allowed to post responses to positive or negative reviews. Thanking someone for their kind words or trying to resolve a “not so” pleasant experience. They all have one other commonality. They use a “special computer designed ranking system” to filter through the reviews that do not meet their requirements and/or which reviews are more or less helpful.  I’m still not 100% sure how that special computer system works, but wonder what types of reviews constitute as more or less helpful. I also wonder the validity of some of the reviews are being posted.

To give you some background. Here is where this whole thing started. I am such a foodie at heart. I love to do reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor, restaurants especially! I seem to mostly have good experiences and try to take pics of the food and give a good honest opinion without being rude and just stating facts. Even if its not the best trip or the greatest food. I give good criticism that I personally believe any good chef or manager would want to know. I give the positive and add a sweet little picture of what I am talking about. There is never personal comments or judgement against an employee. I am only expressing my opinion to inform others. Before the hubby or I go to eat somewhere new, book a hotel, rent a car, etc. I like to see pics of the establishment or food, I like to read other peoples reviews and experiences on Yelp. I find that I base what I will do from some of that information. I do not care for the reviews that seem like they are belittling an employee or just going off about something random that doesn’t give you any insight what so ever!

Because we get “to go” breakfast orders every Friday. I always make sure to let them know if something went wrong or what the good points are. I follow up with a good, honest review on the review site that they prefer. Again, if your a good owner, manager,chef or employee, then you would want to know how a large to go order went. Especially knowing that we could and want to eat there again. To be honest, some restaurants, never even ask me if breakfast was OK, or even call to check in or anything. I personally find this to be bad business. Not that we wont come back, but it just gives me an idea of how you work. Most places though, they care and want to know feedback, so I am very honest. One of the places that we love to get breaky from, the owner, let me know that he did not care for Yelp so much, as his restaurant not only is 24 hour, but also has other services. He stated that Yelp doesn’t do a good enough job at going through the reviews and actually reading what is being wrote. He would get reviews from drunk kids who come in to eat at 3AM and act like total assholes. When they are asked to stop, they threaten bad reviews and actually write a lot of false information. Never once does Yelp look into those situations maybe like AngiesList does. His opinion was that some customers use the “customers always right” stance when truly they were abusive to the establishment.  They feel as though they can belittle someone or some place at will just for why ever they feel they need to. A lot of it being bogus! As an owner, he does have a chance to make right or give a response, but how do you respond to being mistreated or verbally abused or just someone who wasn’t having a good day? So, he asked me to write the review elsewhere, at Trip Advisor. Supposedly, they have tighter guidelines and allow for the diner and the management to come to an agreement. So off to Trip Advisor I went, not really putting any thought of why he felt this way.

Not till, I had a similar experience with Yelp that really got me thinking!! A few Fridays ago, we wanted to try somewhere we have never gone before. They have been here in Reno for while now, exiting their too small of a location to a much larger one. They do catering as well. I call before hand and explain what we’d like to do and if they can accommodate us. I always get a “No Problem” response. I send them over a nice descriptive order, everyones name and what they would like. I am very detailed and specific, so it is clear and they don’t have to ask a lot of questions. I take pride on being good at this 🙂   Friday came and two other employees went down to pick up all the food. Usually the large order is all together in a few big boxes or carrying bags. No, the boys do not go through the order and check off names from a list. We assume that they got everyone’s order and its in the box. When they get back, all the meals are laid out on our ever so long counter in the break room. I generally glance over the names and I can find a missing one pretty easily. I see two names missing already 😦 I do not open each box and inspect the food to make sure it is what they ordered. Basically, I write down exactly what you asked for and usually the restaurant gets it right. Rarely are there mess ups. But it does happen. And that’s OK. I make the announcement to everyone that breaky is here. I grab my box and get the hell out of the way. There’s 30 hungry people coming this way and there is only one entrance/exit. I wait to let those two know that I don’t see their meal and as I am calling the restaurant to see if there are meals sitting down there that maybe had forgotten to be put into the box for us, as this happens a few times. More employees are coming to me with food issues, so I am now playing middle man between us and them. The gal on the other end of the phone is super nice, just as I am. I am letting her know whats missing or incorrect. But the mess ups just keep piling up. She is being very patient as we look over the list together to see whose missing what, but there are so many little issues and some of the employees are becoming impatient and disappointed. We get it straightened out and hang up with each other leaving off that the items missing and incorrect will be delivered here very shortly and a few times she apologized. No worries, shit happens. But this is where it all goes to hell! A few short minutes later I get a call from a super hyper, angered man who states he is the owner. He proceeds to tell me that there is NO missing food, that our employees are taking other peoples meals and its our fault. We go over the list and he tries to explain to me what is in each box and where the missing food is. Half of what he is saying does not exist and this further irritates him. By this point I have to hold the phone away from my ear and ask him to stop yelling at me. We go over the list again and he is reading off orders that are not the problem, again really further irritating him. After 10 mins of going back and fourth and employees looking at me with horror as they can hear how crazily he is acting. We leave off that he will be coming by with the missing food. He calls back several times to belittle me and tell me that our address doesn’t exist and if I’m sure I’m telling him the right addy. Again he calls back sarcastically not sure of where were located. Once he is here, another employee helps me to make sure this asshole isn’t being rude to me. He brings all the wrong items, items that are not correct and by this point, well take it and we just want him out of our office. He doesn’t ever apologize for this horrible confusion, just says what they need to do the next time to make it better, which were all comments that are common sense and should have been performed in the first place. Why did I supply you with names, if you weren’t going to label anything? A few more little things happened after that, with the result ending in, us not really wanting a gift card for the next time that he so rudely pushed onto us. In all fairness he did return with it. But the damage was already done! Fuck the gift card! If the food was really good but the customer serviced sucked, I could get over that as were eating in our office anyways.

I decide to post a review that afternoon on Yelp, with what had happened and suggestions. I gave them a one star and for all good reasons. The food was shit just like the customer service! And I made that very clear! It took almost two weeks to get a response from them and the owner was the one to respond. I could not believe what I was reading, all lies. He continues to blame me and insult me. Just the brown and black diarrhea coming out of this month was total shit and I was truly upset. He even decided to up sell his business with adding other events they do which have nothing to do with us or breakfast foods? I edited my post to include a rebuttal to his cowardly response. But really, I could not believe that I was now arguing with a grown ass man, online?!

This made me re-think my postings of review websites, the one that I had trusted so often to get real opinions from. Why did Yelp not step in or make him re-write a response that wasn’t so douchebaggy?! That’s when I realized that what the other restaurant owner was saying made a lot of sense, he was right. 100% right! I spent the next few days pondering this thought that I would give up Yelp and no longer entrust them to uphold good standards about reviews. But this is why this country is so great, is that its not all rainbows and we as humans, should be able to speak our mind weather or not its honest, but to release the pent up feelings we have about an establishment. Its up to the reader to either read in between the lines or see whats really going on. Even Yahoo or other review sites, they pretty much allow for bullying and I now find myself reading in between those lines and taking what I think to be true and deciphering it. With Angies List, they do what I believe to be necessary, but that’s also why you pay for a membership from them, so issues can be resolved. No false reviews or belittling anyone. But maybe thats OK to do now days. Maybe being free to say what comes to mind is an American thing to do? I wouldn’t want someone being hurtful to me, so why would I do it to another? Well, maybe cause they deserve it, that’s why! It may not be nice, but not everything in this world is always going to be nice.  I am curious if anyone has had a similar experience or maybe have been on the other side, where a bad review was written about your business. How did this make you feel? Do you think we should be able to just say anything?

Let me know where you stand with reviews, very curious to know. Till next time, happily enjoy all your next meals, all while eating and reviewing in Nevada!

NevadaState

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