Friday, 28 February 2014

Who Are We To Play God? - Leaving Negative Reviews

I have been blogging for over 4 years now and I've learnt a lot of cruel blogging lessons along the way, including the minefield of rules and laws of using photos that aren't your own (don't use any that aren't your own work would be my advice to keep life simple ; ) and how to deal with negativity and nastiness through your passions and what you are writing about - people can be very cruel behind the computer screen, believe me! Miss Sue Flay's Hospitality School If you couldn't say it to somebody's face, don't say it online... It's a simple rule, but so many people are ranting on blogs or through social media and being darn right mean - internet trolls or cyber bullies to name but a few nicknames for these cowards. But when I might meet them face to face, they wouldn't say boo to a goose and most certainly wouldn't speak HALF their mind in person... this irritates me more than I could ever tell you. For some time now I've been thinking about this topic... leaving negative feedback and reviews for others and how do we do this nowadays? As a reviewer, visiting a lot of lovely afternoon tea venues, hotels, restaurants and spas for example, I come across the odd negative experience and when I first started blogging in the early days, I would go by the thought process "If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all" and I would simply not write about the venue in question. Simple. But lately, every venue I have visited has been "blog worthy" and if there have been a few creases in the experience, my readers will want to hear about them, otherwise I would be telling them that somewhere is PERFECT and they would find out for themselves that it isn't. In turn, this would make me look like a terrible reviewer for not letting my readers know about the issues I might have been met with. Paddocks House Review With the likes of TripAdvisor around, everybody has the chance to be a critic nowadays and it makes it very easy to be so, but I feel some comments left can be cruel and unwarranted and don't give the venue a fair chance to deal with this problem in hand. I It's a scary world and my question really is "WHO ARE WE TO PLAY GOD?", especially when feedback can be so damning that it could ruin a business entirely. Businesses are also starting to bite back and threaten legal action, with some even starting to sue people who badmouth them with legal loopholes that will allow them to do this, you do truly have to be careful what you say online, it's well and truly documented for eternity when you press that return key. The internet is a minefield when it comes to reviewing... and I for one am up for giving venues a second chance where humanly possible. I haven't always been like this in my attitude and I don't call myself perfect when it comes to leaving feedback - sometimes if I see red, I will go off the rails and shout, but I am trying to better myself on this approach! The Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel If you are going to leave a negative comment or review, it's potentially good advice to stop and think about what you are about to say, will it damage it a business? Is it really necessary? Is this constructive feedback or just a rant to boost your popularity? Just because you experienced a problem doesn't mean you can't be polite, manners get you so much more within my own customer service experience, don't forget it! But, most importantly is this going to benefit anybody or are you just airing your virtual laundry? I try to put myself in the position of the management team at a venue and I try to offer constructive (and discretionary) feedback before I let rip on a blog post. I give them a chance to look at the issues and await their feedback before launching a WW3 style attack on them, it's only fair. With my own personal blog reviews at,  I now call the negative experiences and points "The Little Niggles" as that's all I really find when I visit somewhere. They are just points that could be improved and to be honest, if it was such a calamity that it would all be nothing but negativity, I most likely wouldn't blog about it at all. But that's my personal choice, however I would let the venue know my thoughts so that it didn't go unacknowledged. How are they to know if it isn't fed back to them professionally? Call this approach right or wrong, it feels right for me and my blogging style and I'd truly love to hear your thoughts on this topic. What are YOUR thoughts on "Negative"/negatives in reviews? No matter what industry or what the issue - is it fair to slate BEFORE resolving directly? How do you feedback or complain when you need to? Do you go to Trip Advisor and the like? Or directly? And have you ever had to do so? (If so, were you happy with the outcome...and what was that?) Ravenwood Hall Hotel Here are some comments from readers through social media, it's been an interesting discussion so far!   Rachael Griffin I have done it directly... to give them a chance to fix it... and then i do a frank review on TripAdvisor... Its only fair in my book to give them a chance to respond first.. Takami Hikokubo I would tell them directly, especially if it's a complain. I suppose general opinions could be posted on Trip Advisor but if you want some responses from the hotel/spa then it would be best to contact them directly. That's my view. Nia Thomas We always feedback directly (ask for a meeting with the manager was our last situation) Chewton Glen they did apologise and offered a free overnight stay (midweek not school holidays!!!!!) we aren't yet happy so no trip advisor review as yet but if we don't get the desired outcome I would use trip advisor and of course word of mouth!!! Rachael Griffin If i am there i do it verbally where possible... otherwise e-mail / letter or phone call... Emma Fryer You MUST complain directly at the time to give 'them' the chance to rectify what has happened. If that is not possible you really ought to complain prior to checkout. Complaint after the event is not as powerful but does give the opportunity to rectify for next time, but at this point would you want to go back Angela Hankins I always tell them the issue via email first and I tend to find that they are grateful for the feedback. One restaurant I emailed never replied, I went back some time later as heard they had improved, they hadn't, so negative review on TA Rachel Hawes Resolve it privately. The world doesn't need to know your first world problems!!!! Laura Selway If you are a reviewer then yes, absolutely. That is your job/ role and you would be doing your readers a disservice by not giving a true reflection in your review. By all means also contact the service provider and see if they resolve the issue then also write about this and their response in your review if applicable. Jane Wallington BreezeBirthing WiseHippo Good question. I think to be reasonable is to be fair. Always give them the opportunity to correct/explain/justify/make a statement. It will BENEFIT them if you tell them to before publishing x Steve T Barman Definitely 100% resolve in private if possible. People are all too quick to jump on someone's back. Everybody makes mistakes...and i mean everyone, even the most oiled machines! It can be anything from a very silly oversight, to an absolute calamity. The thing is, you as a reviewer don't know whether that's the norm or it its a one off. If a reviewer goes in all guns blazing it doesn't given anyone the chance for a positive outcome. The venue/service loses out due to bad publicity. The reviewer gets a bad reputation for being overly critical. Its lose lose. However, give someone the chance to rectify a problem. Who knows you may be making that venue/service even better for someone else and then think how much satisfaction you'd personally get from that. Fair enough, if after trying to resolve on the down low, said person still doesn't make any effort, then you have every right to name and shame. But until that point, keep it quiet. Rachael Griffin Nope - in private first.... you should give someone a chance to respond... I even got Campylobacter from a local (ish) establishment but never slated them publicy... Andy Stephenson Can be fair to do so. Example: we had several issues with our super-expensive hotel in Copenhagen, none of which were resolved. Result: a less-than-glowing review on TripAdvisor. William Hanson and Miss Sue Flay Leave your comment below to join the conversation!    Miss Sue Flay    

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