11.7.14 yelp and the anonymous reviewer

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As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts ahem, Full Dinosaur Disclosure I own a shop. One of the evils of being in a customer service business is Yelp. Most of the time I’m completely tickled by my reviews. Actually, most of the time it takes me three months to notice a review, and then I’m tickled. Every once in a while there’s somebody who’s annoyed with how I’ve handled a situation, and the lesson there is that you can’t make everyone happy. Hello? I’m not Nordstrom’s, I just cannot accept a return of a pair of PJs that has been washed, worn, and the size tags removed just because your grandchild no longer fits them. Regardless of rightness or wrongness I feel bad about this kind of Yelp review. But I brush it off. Yelp happens. I doubt it even effects my business.

I sometimes use Yelp myself. To get a phone number or to see the reviews of a new restaurant. I prefer to read the bad reviews to see if the complaints are legitimate (food poisoning) or not (bad date, location is happenstance). But again, this is rare, since I’m a creature of habit and usually frequent the same five restaurants.

What bums me out about Yelp is this Hutten Jewelers page. I’ve mentioned Hutten Jewelers before. They are the most amazing jewelers for so many reasons. Izabella, the owner, is a 60 year old Brigitte Bardot type lady with a heavy Polish accent. Not like the current Brigitte Bardot, mind you, but if Brigitte Bardot had aged the way we all expected her to. This is a picture of her below, usually she’s got this giant contraption strapped to her head that magnifies the gem stones she’s working on.

Izabella

Izabella’s customer service is amazing. My husband shopped around for a jeweler when he was preparing to pop the question. He had some vintage diamonds and needed a jeweler to set them. Most jewelry stores charge a “corkage” fee for supplying your own diamonds. Not Izabella. But the greatness of Izabella is more then this. We bring everything to her: engraving needs, mending, designing, appraising. The other day I dropped in with one of my Goodwill finds to ask her what kind of material it was. (Agate, it’s an agate bangle. I am such a pest.)

Hutten Jewelers

Her fees? So reasonable. Plus, as repeat customers she always knocks the price down for us to be even lower than reasonable. She nurtures our relationship. She can never retire, we need her too much!

But so what breaks my heart about Yelp is when Izabella, who is excellent at her job, but who does not use the internet, or really understand that a Yelp review is not such a big deal, when she gets herself all worked up over a bad review that is completely meritless in its criticisms. And she has no recourse to dealing with it. There’s no check and balance system in place where Yelp confirms “Yes, this is a legitimate complaint” or “No, this is a person who demanded the name of Izabella’s landlord and when Izabella did not feel comfortable providing this kind of info to a stranger on the sidewalk, they wrote her a terrible Yelp review.” She cares about what you think about her and her business when you read that review. She has three reviews. She really needs a freaking website already, but that’s a different pig to fry.

So I say fuck it! Fuck Yelp for making people feel bad about doing their jobs. Fuck the power of this anonymous stranger. You got a problem with a business, address them directly. Cut out this awful Yelp middle man. Yelp has far too much power for its own good. If you can’t cut out the Yelp? Then your complaint is probably ridiculous to begin with.

Today’s bangles are the North African hinge bangle, horn skinny bangles, Hermes Caleche in puke green (Just kidding! I think it’s Chartreuse), brass Goodwill feather which may or may not end up in my online shop, and four skinny brass bangles. I’m loving those guys this week, huh?

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16 thoughts on “11.7.14 yelp and the anonymous reviewer

  1. Poor Izabella who really does resemble a movie star! She’s a jewel herself.

    I am pretty good, I have to say, at writing compliment cards, emailing the store or corporate after good experiences and doing those surveys that a lot of chains have and all that stuff. I even do them when it was just “ok” meaning nothing terrible happened and the person did their job. I don’t expect people to freak out when they see me and throw confetti in my face and hug me and knock half the price down of an item and make me feel like the greatest customer-or else. I hate the mentality people have about taking down a business or getting an employee in trouble on the internet if things don’t go there way. I WILL write a scathing tripadvisor review if appropriate but I always try to focus on the good and think about whether a situation I experienced at a restaurant or whatever business is as bad as I think or if I’m just mad and I want revenge. If it’s revenge I don’t do it. How did I make this about me and patting myself on the back for being a nice little customer?

    at work I once had a guy tell me over the phone he was going to complain about me & his situation his radio program if I didn’t comply with him and I asked him not to threaten me and politely excused myself off the phone. He was such a slob.

    Anyway-yeah Fuck Yelp!

    1. You bring up a really good point, it’s just as important, or more to say good job after a good experience. I did the same recently with a Kaiser survey. Because they do a really good job, they should be aware of that. And, it makes people’s day. Often they are on the brunt end of something that is beyond their control and they are just trying to help. It’s nice to tell them you appreciated it, you know?

      1. Yep and a lot of times those comments go along way, they can come up during employee reviews or get the employee entered into employee of the month or sometimes there’s an incentive for positive survey scores and stuff like that. I still feel guilty because I had a great experience in Canada at a store and promised to do the survey but lost the receipt later. It was back in May and I’m not kidding I think about it all the time-I feel so bad!

      2. Don’t feel too bad about it, if you had a great experience, chances are good other people did as well. I bet the good word made it’s back to the person and hopefully management too.

  2. I’m from the Philippines and customer service is a foreign concept, or it used to be. When we have a bad experience with an establishment, we usually (I don’t speak for the whole nation) just shut up about it and then vow not to go there ever again. I’m bad at confronting people which is a sin on it’s own. I wrote one essay about the power of the influence of the internet. How reviews can easily switch your loyalty to something because your favorite singer says that they don’t like that something. And how well thought captions can manipulate your feelings about something. Like for example a video about a cat dragging its person from a burning building with a caption, “this will move you to tears!” I’m turned off by that. Just let my robotic feelings decide if this will move to tears or not. Because I somehow end up feeling guilty when I’m not teary eyed at the end of the video.

    I don’t use Yelp. But yeah! Fuck Yelp! And yay for independent establishments!

    1. I was trying to guess where you are, I had it narrowed to Guam or the Philippines. I did know you are filipino, but I couldn’t figure out if you lived there or not.

      It seems to me the filipino culture is very joke cracking, happy funny. Not complaining about something kind of fits into that, doesn’t it?

      Oh man, I hate those caption bubbles. They are so distracting.

      1. Filipinoes will tolerate anything and everything and try to pin their hardships on someone other than themselves. We are known for being happy even at the most troubling times. That’s all we do. We repress everything.

        That’s a good and bad thing I think. But there’s just no progress with that attitude.

  3. Sounds like Izabella is one of a rare kind. I love doing business with people that know how to care and spoil their clients – and it’s not like it always has to involve something material – sometimes a smile and good conversation is enough. I wish we had someone fitting that sort of caliber here in Germany… Customer service here in Germany is absolutely horrendous. Yelp is great. I think there are idiots everywhere but it’s relatively easy to spot them in Yelp (some people are just miserable and they always show it).

    1. I used to have a German babysitter and she was so literal about everything. I remember specifically one time when my dad said to her “Wait here, I’ll get the car.” Here happened to be in the direct sun, boiling hot day. But fifteen feet away was the shade. Nope Simone waited there, exactly in the sunshine. She did not move to the shade. I think good customer service needs a lot of flexibility. You need to bend in the current of other people’s emotions working to guide them to happiness. Simone (a representative of all Germans everywhere definitely) was not one to bend.

      1. Indeed! That pretty much resumes it. I guess there’s a bit of an inherent stiffness or lack of flexibility (best way I can put it) which in my opinion also brings good things. For instance, most of the German people I know are incredibly reliable and when they say something… there’s no more forgetting – really helpful and restless in helping. All in all, a really reliable culture. Of course that also has negative aspects, one of the worse consequences is that trying to convince people here to change their mind or changing a decision is usually a big waste of time. Same with questioning why isn’t something done in a different, smarter, faster way. Usually the answer is: Because that’s the way it’s always been done…

        When it comes to service though, as you say, real service means flexibility and an ability to get in other people’s shoes (within reason). In Germany, Service means receiving and register the money in the cash register, passing the goods and saying “Danke”.

      2. What impressed me when I visited Berlin were the trains! Exactly on time, honor system about the ticket payment. That level of user trust was nearly unfathomable to me. But it does show the good side of what we’re talking about.

        These kind of cultural differences are so interesting. When I was in France the cashiers looked at me like I was crazy when I handed the cash directly to them. For them, that is just not done. You put cash on the table (or surface of whatever) and then the cashier picks it up. Me handing them money offended them!

      3. They started a huge strike on Thursday lasting all the way to Monday 4 AM. All train incredibly limited. When I moved here initially I was really impressed as well (that was about 7 years a go). In the last 2 years quality has gotten worse and worse (15 min delays and above being pretty often). It’s been mainly due to cost reductions and Die Bahn pushing their people for longer shifts and more aggressive timelines.

        Interesting you mention France… I find the French really peculiar when it comes to expecting all other cultures are to adapt even if you’re paying for the Hotel, the meals, the bills, all of it. To me personally, it really annoys me when people don’t hand me money in my hand. I guess it’s linked to my Portuguese culture. I just hate picking coins glued to the glazed table or desk. Here in Germany it happens as well (like in France).

  4. I might use Yelp or such, but only in times of desperation, total ignorance as to the local options. Sites like Yelp teach much about the internet: lots of information available, most of it of totally unkown quality, reliability, accuracy. That “most” part, to me, is usually a total waste of time. You’re far better off knowing you’re ignorant than building a house on no known foundation.

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