Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bashing Bandwagon

Why is the first place people think to go when they want to complain is social media?  I don't mean complain about stuff like James & Peta getting robbed on Dancing With the Stars (THEY DID!). I'm talking about when they have a problem with small business.

Big business- I can kind of understand. Because they often don't make it easy to get in touch to resolve your issue. I know when I was fed up with different Shop Rite stores having different stuff and not being able to find what I need, I tweeted to Shop Rite. Even though they are franchises, which I learned only when I tweeted, they still have a "Corporate" over them. Currently, I'm looking to rip Jenny Craig a new one for firing my consultant there with no good reason and no warning. I can't even find any way to contact their corporate office or HR or whoever I need to give a piece of my mind.

But, when I have an issue with small business, I take it to the business. I may write a letter instead of coming in or calling but I contact the actual business before just blasting them across the internet. I'm not talking about Yelp either. I'm talking about these Facebook groups that are popping up every day. On these town groups, there are people that NEED a hobby besides slamming small businesses. If someone in a group asks for a recommendation or opinions, that's one thing to give a good or bad opinion based on firsthand experiences. But it's another when someone comes on expressly to ruin a business's reputation.

I don't know why people think it's ok to do this. I'm not bothered because I happen to own a small business. This actually hasn't happened to us online. I don't think a lot of our customers use things like Yelp or even Facebook. But we also have a different kind of business. We do custom work that is discussed in great detail and length before it's executed. I don't know exactly why it's different or we don't deal much in online reviews but it is and it's probably for the best. I'm bothered because I think it's just such a poor approach to dealing with people and business.

I read one complaint from a woman who had just returned home from what I would argue is an amazing local restaurant and I couldn't help but call her out. She went out to dinner on VALENTINE'S DAY. I guess they didn't seat her quickly enough and she felt ignored. Her first sentence, THAT NIGHT, was- "I'll NEVER go to XYZ restaurant again!" Then she explained her issue. I had to say something. I basically said that it might have benefitted her more had she gone to management and said something then instead of bashing a really good, proven good, local business on a public forum. Not to mention it was Valentine's Day. To me, that's like going out on New Years Eve. Amateur hour. If you choose to go out to dinner on Valentine's Day, especially when it falls on a weekend night you kind of reap what you sow. Sure, maybe they could've done a better job- I don't know, I wasn't there But come on. Cut the place a little slack on a holiday and a holiday like that where every restaurant is jam-packed. And if that's the reason why you're "never coming back" then consider that establishment lucky for losing such a complainer.

Another one was when a formerly struggling local store was finally able to renovate and restock. Instead of just choruses of "AWESOME", you get the person who HAS to say something like "Oh good, because the last few times I was there they had nothing I needed in stock". Great! Thanks for reminding everyone about past issues. How about just a hearty congratulations and patronize the business in the near future. THEN, write about how wonderful the experience was for you.

Recently I saw a post complaining about the attitude she got when she went into a new business, wasn't buying anything, but asking for a DONATION during a lunch rush! She didn't say anything to the owner about not being happy or even try to get to know him. She immediately ran to the computer and put it out on Facebook. Nevermind that people have no idea how small businesses get solicited every single day for donations, for every school, church and other non-profit organization in the area. Not even just from the town they have a business in but from all the neighboring towns. If an attitude was given, maybe instead of blasting the business on Facebook, maybe take a minute to think about what you could have done differently. Like, maybe have a list at each organization of every business that has been asked and has given and make a policy of only asking once a year. Or, buy something instead of just expecting something for free. How about just go in, at an off-hour, without an agenda some time and see how THAT goes. The attitude you got has nothing to do with how someone would normally run their business. You weren't bringing them any business and that's what they go there, open up, and work for every day. Not to give away stuff for free.

It's become a situation where I think people just need something to do or bitch about. Or they're so trapped in their own bubble that they don't have a clue about how to deal with people properly. What happened to talking something out? Having some balls and nicely expressing some dissatisfaction? Sending an email detailing the particular situation and how it negatively affected you? Trying for resolution before trying to ruin someone's livelihood? People are also really, really BRAVE behind their computer screen. I witnessed one of the most immature exchanges on one of these pages a couple of days ago. A grown man was totally taunting a woman who innocently asked when an event was taking place. It ended up with him cursing her out. It was embarrassing for both of them.

And it's always the same people that never stop complaining. I think they need to do one of those Pinterest-type things like #100DaysOfHappy and find things they're happy about. No one wants to read a laundry list of complaints on the daily about nonsense. So you weren't seated on time ONCE. So a store didn't have what you needed before they renovated. If you don't like the goods or services, just SAY SOMETHING. To someone in the position of authority to help you FIRST. If, IF, no one helps you, it doesn't get resolved, or they treat you poorly, then by all means, blast away wherever you want. But I guarantee, if people used half the energy it took them to write the ugly public review or complaint, to have a real conversation with the business they had the conflict with, they'd end up happier with the results. I see all the time that someone will post their rant, then someone will ask if they spoke to a manager or the owner and the answer is usually- NO. How do they expect any help if they don't say anything?? I almost feel like it goes back to the days of public beheadings. There has to be something inherent in some humans to want to publicly shame people in the town square.

Basically, all this is turning into, this Facebook group business bashing, is a form of online bullying. It's done in hopes to either ruin someone's livelihood or to embarrass or scare that business into doing something you want them to do. Or have them be "taught a lesson" by going out of business. It's blackmail. It's not fair, it's not good karma, and it just makes you look like you have a lot of time on your hands.

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