Posting Reader Complaints: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

ouchYesterday I posted a Disher’s complaint about Zorba’s. Several commenters disagreed with the anonymous complainant and the owner, Pavlos Guiatas, posted a rebuttal. I thought, in the end, it was a discussion that provoked interest in Zorba’s.

I hate to say that I’m smart, but I receive a lot of e-mails from people trying to cyber-bash a restaurant. Usually I can tell if the note comes from someone on the inside or a disgruntled employee—they tend to know too much and the note is usually a personal attack and not a general complaint about an experience.

So, I ask you. I view this space as an open forum for discussion. Do I post anonymous complaints? Do I e-mail them back and say “I will post your complaint if you give me your real name?” Or do I hit delete? It’s your space. Define it.

38 comments on “Posting Reader Complaints: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

  1. Anonymous complaints are the way to go. If people don’t want their complaints aired online, they should keep them to themselves. An online blog/forum is a place for people to express themselves.

  2. I have found that all too often the “complaints” are really posted by competitors and their management. If there are real complaints, we always welcome the opportunity to address them, but I don’t see the need for anonymous contributors.
    By way of disclosure, I am the owner of Buttons in Ft Worth.

  3. I think anonymous comments are fine – they bring attention to things local reviewers may not have noticed (yet). But before you post them for everyone to comment on, maybe you should verify certain “facts” stated in them. Granted, most will probably just be opinions from the commentor, but this one (Zorba’s) specifically said there was new ownership, and it seems as if that may not be the case. Just a thought!

  4. Like spraying your entire body with Pam before making love, it’s a slippery slope.

  5. I see it as a chance for people to share their reviews and to confirm or deny what the original poster claims. If the details are too in depth then they might have inside knowledge, angry employee. If it is a over the top bash and insult then it sounds like a one off experience or the competition sounding off.

    Guess you have to disclaim it with “this is one persons review, anyone have a similar or opposite experience?”

    Positive comments will definitely motivate me to go to dine somewhere, but negative will never stop me from trying and forming my own opinion.

  6. Why do you have to be anonymous? If the experience is real then start the discussion by introducing yourself.

  7. Any post with your name in the “by” line has a direct impact on your cred. Do as you wish, but I’m sure you understand the niche market for anonymous bashing/accolades is saturated.

  8. I agree with Annette. Offering the restaurant a day for a comment/fact check in response to the complaint before posting seems fair.

    Complaints that are just bashing don’t really seem to add much to the blog. Now if the person has questions, needs input, information or wants to know if others have had a similar experience (something to encite a discussion vs. a bash-fest), that’s a different story.

    I just think it’s fair to give the restaurant a little bit of time to respond so no one ends up with egg on their face. But if they don’t respond…fair game!

  9. No restaurant is perfect all of the time, it has to rise (or sink) to a certain level to be discussion worthy.

  10. If the complaint is novel, significant, verifiable and is at the serious restaurant news level that is this blog’s forte then sure, publicize it. If it is just a terse review (good or bad) about a particular restaurant, than send it to Pegasus. They do a great job compiling and logging average reader reviews.

    @ rawlins: Great image, and are you trolling for the obligatory “who’s Pam” comment?

  11. get the owner’s response first and then if you decide to post the complaint, also post the owner’s response together. a lot of people probably don’t read the comments section or they only read the comments once and don’t check back for further discussions and might miss the owner’s rebuttal

  12. I would like to see people with complaints be required to provide proof of identity. Not sure how to do that but Frontburner’s “Your comment is awaiting moderation” might work. I’m in “the bidness” and have seen former (disgruntled) employees say some terrible things about our business on the blog and it’s extremely damaging to our reputation and the livelihood of the employees. That’s unacceptable.

  13. I would say in this case the system worked well. It created interest in Zorba’s and, in the end, got a clarifying rebuttal from the owner.

    A blog is nothing more than an exchange of ideas and opinions, some good, some bad, but still open to eveyone. The way this one ended there was no harm done.

  14. Most people know better than to believe everything they read on teh intarwebz. The rest are generally too stupid or gullible to be concerned with anyway. The whole identifying yourself meme “insiders” seem to have is just stupid. If some unverifiable, anonymous comment ruins your business, well, too bad really.

    As for SideDish itself, I trust Nancy’s judgement for what should or should not go up. But I am curious about the Zorba’s post. Why’d you post it Nancy? It seemed specious to me. Did you think so too, and post it to get replies? Or was the sender somebody that you have no reason to doubt?

  15. I posted it because it sounded like a real experience. I mean a waiter shouting “I’m not the cook” or whatever sounded like something that would happen in a Greek restaurant. In fact, it made me want to go to Zorba’s. Luniz, what did you read that made you feel suspicious?

  16. Let the kvetchers kvetch somewhere else. Chowhound, for example. Keeps you from having you fact-check everything, too.

  17. My reacation to the post… Pointing at your watch is a little rude. Yelling across a restaurant is a little rude. The owner’s response was outstanding. People will be people. No matter how good you are at keeping your cool, there’s someone out there who will get to you. The owner sincerely apologizing and offering to make it right really impressed me. He made me want to go and see for myself.

    The original post didn’t make worry about the place too much because I was more suspicious of the diner’s attitude than the waiters. Nancy has a good feel for entertainment and the post was pretty funny. I don’t think the restaurant will suffer for the mention… The owner had the completely appropriate reaction, which I find refreshing considering the behavior of some local restauranteurs.

  18. Let it all hand out. Blogs are by the people for the people, and the people are smart enough to decide for themselves. Censorship is not needed or necessary.

  19. I was actually the one who forwarded this post to the owner…. I simply used the Contact Us email on their website… He emailed me back and told me his frustration on people being able to post anonymous stuff like this… I encouraged him to post the rebutal. In an instance like this I think it shouls have quickly been discredited and never been published…

  20. Keep the complaints coming. I might be wrong but wasn’t an anonymous complaint here on our sweet Side Dish that helped uncover the rip offs at the Twisted Vine? I also appreciate when the owners/chefs are given a public space to post a rebuttal. It can clear up any misconceptions and it is good business. For example, I saw a pretty bad review of the restaurant week service at Stephen Pyles and I was so impressed that Pyles responded back and offered to make it right with that customer. It was good for the customer and the restaurant because it showed me (and others out there) that Pyles runs a restaurant that listens to their clientele.

  21. Hi, Nancy. Don’t post it as it’s a singular experience. The person writing may never have had Greek cuisine before and didn’t order in concert with his palate. Restaurants have bad days and, as a big fan of Zorba’s, generally speaking I’ve had positive experiences.

  22. I agree with Ed B. Posting it if it’s a singular experience does not seem fair. I think if it’s more than a couple it should be posted. I felt so sorry for Zorba’s. But all this talk does make me want to go there this weekend.
    Personally anyone who points to their watch in a restaurant AT someone or really anywhere to anyone…should not have a forum. That is one of the rudest things you can do, right below snapping your fingers and right above making that sign for a check.

  23. Perhaps it is in the way a poster comments his views. Usually if I am posting I like to make some highlights and also state the failures but in a nice way. We are human so sometimes it is likely not to have the same experience every time. I have learned that there are actual people with jobs on the line when it comes to reviews. First time reviewers on whatever posting outlet need to be mindful of this fact.

    I have nothing against Nancy as I know she is a professional. The poster in the Zorba’s should also have let the manager know his plight before leaving (in hindsight). I have also not seen the other side of the story from Zorba’s standpoint.

  24. Ack! I saw the restaurant week rant of Pyles as well, and it was someone using a variation of my name. Upset me greatly. I generally refer people to SP’s, and have had few problems with their service.

    I thought the reply by Pyle’s was rather cool, though, and think more operators should troll these type of forums and respond when necessary.

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