AG Food for Thought

Has Yelp Suddenly Turned Us All Into Jackasses?

I read a great email on this topic from North Social recently and found it to be timely about my concerns with social media at the moment.

From North Social, the question was this: Just because we all have keyboards and high-speed Internet connections, does this give us the right to act like complete jerks?

Certainly, the Internet has created instant gratification expectations, but why do some unhappy consumers skip the proper customer service channels and instead choose to publicly flame a business? Don’t get me wrong, negative feedback can be just the kick in the pants a business needs to improve an aspect of its operation, but at least allow for a response before you go all “Mel Gibson” on them.

As a business owner, I don’t think it’s necessary to get too worked up or baited into a fight, but I get angry when someone does that too my business if the accusation is false or unwarranted. And Yelp doesn’t help businesses fight back either. For example, Yelp will not remove a review that was obviously planted by a jealous competitor or a customer who is trying to use Yelp to extort us. Both scenarios have happened to us and are out there now for all to read. Permanent blemishes that we can’t get removed. Not that we’re perfect, nobody is. But hey, we’re big boys. If we screwed up we’ll apologize and make it right but it’s grossly unfair to use social media to try and destroy a competitor or extort  us and Yelp should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen. At least follow up with a business if we’ve “flagged” the review.

I hope that people reading these obviously malicious, bogus reviews take them with a grain of salt and dismiss them for what they are. Take for example the review we received where the first time customer complained about our selection being “thin” for the two varietals of wines she was looking for. Seriously? At all times we have over 2000 wines, with a wide variety of styles in our store and she calls us “thin?” If she had simply called us or talked to our staff while she was in the store, she would have been told that we too like the varietals she was looking for but . .  THEY DON”T SELL IN OUR STORE! After being in business for over seven years now, don’t you think we might know what sells and what doesn’t? Does it make sense to carry wines people won’t buy? Of course not, but instead she decides to berate us through social media and that’s not fair.

If you consider that we’ve been in business for seven years, we’re obviously doing things right. Since we’ve have less than 30 Yelp reviews over this time period, I should not let this one person rain on our parade as there are thousands of other customers out there who like us and never say anything. I just fear that Yelp, and the people who write scurrilous reviews, hurt businesses like ours more than they help.

One last thought – If you feel you’ve been wronged by a business, demanding that the United Nations issue immediate sanctions against the company in question for the capital offense of not waiting on you hand and foot to your demanding satisfaction, is only making the world a less enjoyable place and solidifying your status as a first class jackass.

Greg Schroeder – Owner