Taming the Review Bullies

WeddingIQ Blog - Taming the Review Bullies

I’ve been following people’s outrage over the new ReviewerCard, a piece of plastic that apparently entitles its holder to “premium service” from restaurants, hotels, retailers and other businesses.  How does it do that?  Well, the cardholder is supposed to present the card at the time of service, which in effect will intimidate the business into providing upgrades, comping checks, and all kinds of other perks out of fear of receiving a bad review.

Jonathan Rienstra, writing for CultureMap Dallas, did a great job of explaining why the ReviewerCard is crap. Reviews (good or bad) are a great thing when they’re honest.  But bringing up the review before service is rendered?  That’s just bullying, plain and simple. And using such a card is, frankly, douchey.

It makes me sad when I see wedding businesses operating out of fear of the dreaded negative review.  I’ve seen business owners bend over backward at the threat of being trashed online, and even when it works to prevent the bad review (and it doesn’t always), these business owners still end up feeling abused and resentful.  It just isn’t worth it.

My own business has only been blatantly threatened once (well, twice if you count the client who ordered us to change our response to her review or else she’d make it worse).  After a miscommunication regarding pricing, which occurred before any contracts were signed and which was caught within hours of the initial meeting, a groom told us he was going to “trash you all over the Internet” if we didn’t honor the lower price.  Well, the lower price was for a package which didn’t even come close to meeting the large-scale needs of his event – an event that was going to literally double our costs.  We refused.  We apologized, of course, for our mistake, but we refused.

See, I have no interest in working with clients who try to exploit an honest human error, one which had zero impact on them.  (Obviously, if we’d signed a contract before the mistake was caught, that would be a different story.  But that wasn’t the case here.)  The wedding industry is built on relationships, and that’s a two-way street.  See, in this business, we get a choice of which clients we’ll work with, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Angry Groom did leave us a one-star review, and you know what?  It has had no impact on our business whatsoever.  I think Chef’s Widow explained it quite aptly, with regards to the ReviewerCard concept: “…anyone who reads a review based on the fact that they didn’t get preferential treatment because they flashed a stupid card will know how DUMB said review/reviewer actually is.”  Same thing applies here, I think.  If a prospective client is going to think less of my company because we didn’t give another couple nearly $2000 in completely undeserved free services, then they’re not going to become my client.  Fortunately, it hasn’t been an issue because not one single person has brought it up.

I hope the ReviewerCard goes down in flames, because feeding this bully mentality that consumers should blatantly extort businesses is a horrible thing to do.  But in the meantime, I hope that wedding businesses will at least keep things in perspective.  A bad review or two – especially when the review is clearly from an egomaniac who relishes playing judge, jury and executioner to the reputation of small businesses – is not the end of the world.

(Side note: if your business has received a negative review, whether you earned it or not, you might find this post helpful in crafting a response.)


Jennifer Reitmeyer

Jennifer Reitmeyer is the founder of WeddingIQ and the owner of MyDeejay, Firebrand Messaging, and Authentic Boss. She is also a WeddingWire Education Expert, a small business coach and a professional speaker on the event industry circuit.