Reviews, holiday reports, good or bad restaurants and so on
This morning a friend phoned me, very upset, because he had received a bad review for his little hotel-restaurant nearby.
I read the review, as requested, and can only conclude that there are some unfortunate people on earth who simply have nothing better to do. The review was bitchy in the extreme, and I was left wondering what in the world the author of it thought she would achieve ? What was her AIM ? Did she genuinely think that her review would somehow “warn” somebody else ? And did she think that the establishment was so horrid that it was worth trying to get it to close down ? Or was she simply letting off steam ? In which case surely going for a jog (apparently she is fat) would have been better ?
So, one has to conclude, then, that the author of the review a) has nothing else to do, b) is bitchy and c) is so ignorant that she just cannot see how distressing this kind of thing can be for somebody who has worked long and hard. And unless one is totally daft, any fool should surely know that any owner of any small business works long and hard ?
It is a shame that many people put so much store by reviews, but it is the way the world has gone. To readers of reviews I’d give this tip: watch out carefully for factual information only; ignore anything that smacks of bitchiness, anything that smacks of personal taste, and anything that smacks of revenge. Watch out for petty niggles, biased opinions and unnecessarily aggressive vocabulary.
Also bear in mind, as you read, that anger is a powerful fuel. People who are angry (whether they are truly angry at the hotel or unwittingly angry at themselves is a different matter) will hammer away at their laps tops, venting their frustration on the key board. People who are happy, tend to smile and say “that was nice” and go home. Good reviews are frequently written because the owner of the hotel (or whatever) has said to his client “do write a good review if you have time,” … otherwise it often doesn’t occur to them.
I will also add that I do think that healthy, fit, happy, cheery, hard-working and wholesome people do not waste time writing nasty reviews. Healthy, fit, happy, cheery, hard-working and wholesome people just take a bad experience as precisely that – a bad experience – and they move on. The hotels and restaurants, holiday properties and bars that are genuinely so dreadful are few and far between. That, by simple mathematics, means that 90% of bad reviews need to be ignored.
Good reviews, while we’re at it, are rarely written by the owners, as legend has it. Review sites have a system whereby they can tell who owns the laptop, and also have a filtering system that simply deletes any good review that seems to be fake.
And if you are about to write a bad review: think it out, please. Some of us have worked very VERY hard for a long time, have sweated and shed blood and tears to get our businesses up and running. Of course we sometimes make mistakes – that is normal. Of course we sometimes get things wrong. That is also normal. But was it really THAT bad ? Or are you just being bitchy ? Never EVER write a bad review just because you didn’t happen to like the place.
Last but not least – yes, black lists do exist. It is not legal to have a black list of people who wrote bad reviews or who were unpleasant and difficult customers. But almost all tourist offices, holiday house owners, hotels etc. have a blacklist, and we pass them around to each other via a web site. None will admit to it. Me ? No, of course I don’t have a black list ! Wouldn’t dream of it.
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites. Her sketches are on her web site http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk . Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.