by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
customer reviews


Banning Anyone Who Reviews Your Shop Online Isn't Likely To Generate Much Business

from the what's-a-sign-that-your-store-isn't-customer-friendly? dept

We all know that sometimes customer reviews online can be a bit harsh, but it's something that companies need to learn to deal with. Some take proactive approaches by responding to the complaints with their own side of the story or by apologizing and promising that changes will be made to avoid similar problems in the future. However, one cafe owner has taken things to a different level, apparently putting a sign in the window of the cafe, saying that users of popular online review site Yelp are not allowed as customers. This is effectively saying that the shop owner has no interest in what its customers think of it, has no interest in improving the quality of service and doesn't seem to realize that this will only encourage anyone who has a bad experience to go to Yelp and post about it. In fact, putting this sign in the window seems likely to damage the reputation of the cafe a lot more than any bad review on Yelp.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Craig Mc, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 2:18am

    No such thing as bad publicity

    Anyone ever heard of reverse psychology? This would more likely encourage users of said site to visit cafe and write reviews good or bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    GoblinJuice, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 3:21am

    Maybe the guy just doesn't want punk kids bad mouthing his business? =D

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Daniel (profile), Aug 16th, 2007 @ 4:12am

    Bad Publicity

    "no such thing as bad publicity" only applies to those whose sole product is attention. Movies, tv, actors, singers, radio hosts etc... people or things that either are paid for being watched or paid for bringing eyeballs to ads all fall under this category.

    A cafe, however, sells food and drink and in that case, there absolutely IS such thing as bad publicity.

    You are right that this would encourage users to write reviews. However, you are wrong in assuming people would actually have to go there to do it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    The infamous Joe, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 4:52am

    Re: Bad Publicity

    Well... if you think about it, they *do* have to go there to write an honest review. Otherwise, how do they know that the eggs are always runny and the sausage tastes like fat covered cardboard?

    However, the guy is pretty foolish-- how can he verify whether or not I have used Yelp? Even if he *could*, what's to stop me from joining afterwards? It seems pretty silly to make a rule up that is impossible to enforce.

    Maybe he's setting up for some kind of crazy doubletalk-- like, "Those bad reviews can't be real, I don't allow people who use Yelp into my shop, so all reviews on Yelp must be made up." Which, is ingenious, in a retarded kind of way.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Amethyst, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 5:12am

    That guy is an idiot. It will only encourage people to post reviews, bad or good. Also I don't understand how he's going to be able to verify if someone used a particular web site. I mean, people don't exactly walk around with their usernames on their foreheads, unless that site requires real names, which is stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 16th, 2007 @ 5:21am


    Even if the site required real names, would it matter?
    How often do you walk into a restaurant saying, hello, my name is ________. The only way that would happen is if this restaurant was good enough where it was reservation only, in which case, he probably doesn't care what his users think because its already that good anyways (or in this case that bad according to review?).

    And, he is also highly advertising the site Yelp, which I never knew existed until this article.
    Although, I do not live in a heavily populated area (work in one though). And I also do not go out to eat all the time. Or really almost ever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    mike allen, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Bad Publicity

    Did anyone say the review would be honest.
    something along these would do the trick I ate at XXXXXX last week have just been discharged from hospital after ECOLI.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 6:14am

    This is the typical attitude of small town Southern shop owners. That is why Wallmark most often is the most popular store in town and explains a lot about Wallmark’s growth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 6:18am


    Yeah...despite all the past posts on this site about highend Northern restuants going nuts over bad reviews...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    BrianWGray, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 6:39am

    It's Amazing

    It's amazing that some business owners don't understand the simplest rules of customer service. Being petty will not bring more business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Overcast, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 6:41am

    Think they used to do that in other areas of the country, only it used to be based on skin color.

    Guess some have just found a new way to discriminate.

    Don't think I'd go there anyway. Business that doesn't address customer concerns isn't a place I really want to patronize.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 7:06am

    Problem is...

    ...businesses are no longer remembering "the customer is always right," mantra. I bought a used product at Best Buy and ended up it had the completely wrong product in it. I returned it, but not after a lot of hassle about them. In the end, they finally took it back, but they gotta remember that on average if they assumed the customer is always right, they'll come out ahead in the end. If they didn't take it back, I'd never shop there again. If they did that for every situation, yea, they'd stop the few people who were actually lying, but they'd alienate a whole more customers. They'd lose more customers and money then they actually saved. In their minds though, they see the immediate savings and think they're being more cost-efficient.

    No one remembers "the customer is always right" is about making more money, not just being nice. The Home Depot near me has it right (dunno if its localized to just this one though, others might be different). My bro worked there and they had a policy to accept any and all returns... even if they never sold the product (dunno how they worked out prices in those cases). A majority of the time, its not a scam, so you're satisfying more customers than you are allowing scams. Therefore, you make more than you're losing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Dosquatch, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 7:49am

    mutual benefit?

    Perhaps this is a deal that Yelp and the shop worked out together? Prior to this article, I hadn't heard of either one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Mystified, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Bad Publicity

    Write a review like that (got E. coli) would land you in a lot of hot water in most parts of the world. NEVER write anything untruthful in a review. The proper review would be: "Went to XXX Cafe. Didn't bother to go in because signs in the front window left me with the impression that management did not respect its customers."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    mike allen, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bad Publicity

    not if its true it wouldn't beside I been in hot water several times don't bother me you obviously have no sense of humor

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Todd, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 8:29am

    Word of Mouth

    Good point about the attention factor. Tha fact is that for most small businesses, word of mouth is crucial. I can't tell you how many times I've checked the web for comments on restaurants, books, suppliers... you name it. The problem is, you never know if the negative poster knows what they're talking about... are they a copetitor? Did they happen to hit it on a bad day? Are they completely clueless?

    I use Yelp, but I also use a site called so I can see if they are any POSITIVE comments about a business. They way I figure it, misery loves company. But a positive review is worth a whole lot more to me and to a small business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 8:53am

    Re: Word of Mouth

    Frankly I'm just as weary about positive comments as negative. Just as those negative comments may be competitors or people that caused their own "bad" experience those positive comments may be employees or people the business buttered up (with free service or discounts or whatever).

    That's why I much prefer asking people I actually know about a business. And if it's one that I can't speak to someone about I just use my own judgement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 10:18am

    it might only be sarcasm!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Crimsonghost, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 10:39am

    Re: Problem is...

    "The customer is always right" mantra is either misunderstood or has become naive and obsolete in todays society. If a store like Best Buy lost you as a customer, they would technically lose your business, but they may actually be making more money, (or at least prevent loss, which adds to their bottom line), as a result.

    I know that occasionally something legitimately slips through the cracks and a box ends up with the wrong product in it. This could be a result of a dishonest customer or a manufacturing mistake. However, assuming the box was sealed at the time of purchase, retailers have no way of actually verifying the contents before it left the store. They have no way of knowing whether or not you yourself did not go home and stick an inexpensive item that you already own into the box in place of the better item before returning it, thus stealing from them.

    They're protecting their assets. If every customer was correct all the time, and they took everyones word for it, they would be robbed blind and lose a lot of revenue. Some dishonest returns will inevitably and incorrectly be placed back on the shelf, they'd have no idea what products are in what boxes, screwing up their inventory. That will impact other customers satisfaction when they have the same experience as you.

    Ultimately they would be out of business, and who besides the retailer would be hurt by that? The consumer, because now they have one less place to shop for the things they want. While it's unfortunate that this has to happen, I think it's a good thing that a retailer would question the validity of something like this. In many cases the customer is not right, and should not be appeased into believing they are. The customer benefits in the long run.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Instructor (profile), Aug 16th, 2007 @ 11:39am

    That sign is in the category of ...

    ... low-IQ announcements.

    Very much like the "no guns allowed" signs I occasionally see here in the DFW area. The owner of the business is announcing to the world that s/he is REALLY stupid.

    TX CHL Classes

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Jeff, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 1:54pm


    "by Amethyst on Aug 16th, 2007 @ 5:12am
    That guy is an idiot"

    Yeah a real idiot. Everyone (including you) is talking about his cafe and more people are dropping by out of curiosity (at least). What is that "idiot" going to do with all the extra business?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Shohat, Aug 18th, 2007 @ 11:23pm

    I used to own a successful food business

    Before moving to something more intellectually stimulating, I used to run a rather successful italian food business.

    I can honestly tell you that my food was good, and I always treated bad customers like they should be treated.
    The very second someone would complain, I would tell them to shut the fuck up, gave them their money back, and ask them to never come back.
    My waiters knew it, and when they had whiny obnoxious women that would just mention the word "supervisor", they would call me immediately, and I would kick them out in the middle of the meal.
    See, that's the joy of running your own business. You run it by your own standards, and don't have to explain it to anyone. You may make more(or less) by doing things otherwise, but that's no body's business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Michael Jenkins, Aug 16th, 2012 @ 9:35pm


    It is interesting that a cafe owner would be so concerned what an online review of his restaurant would have him initiate a policy of banning internet users. In retrospect it most likely won't hurt his business, but it certainly will not inspire people to check out his restaurant. The reality is their are more people in the United States without an internet connection, than their are with one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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