Everyone should be ready to accept fair criticism. How else would be learn and grow? But what if the criticism is unfair, or worse, not even factually correct?
Imagine working your socks off to make a living running a pub and then someone posts a scathing review about you on Tripadvisor quoting information that simply isn’t true. These reviews can have a major impact on businesses so it’s important to get the response right.
An Irish pub landlord showed how to deal with this kind of unfair criticism with a firm but fair response to a TripAdvisor review that accused him of serving frozen pizza.
The South County Bar in Cork received a scathing online review that claimed the pub had falsely advertised that food was served all day with a large sign saying, ‘full menu all day’.
The reviewer also complained that ‘the only food on offer was frozen pizzas.’
The post stated: “Disappointed that the only food on offer was frozen pizzas. It was not possible to alter the toppings because they were frozen, and they cost €12 each!”
However, the reviewer was wrong on both counts as the pub has no such sign as the pub only serves food until lunchtime.
And as for serving frozen pizza – well South County is known locally for its stone-baked pizza oven so that could be taken as quite an insult.
The reviewer left a two-star rating – far lower than the bar’s average of 4.5.
Despite the accusations, pub owner Tom kept his cool and wrote out a measured response to the unfair criticism.
He tackled the points that had been raised in the review one by one and even questioned whether the reviewer had actually had a meal in his bar.
“I’m not sure when you visited the South County, but I take it that it was over the Christmas period. As there is reduced demand in the evenings at Christmas holiday time, we have stopped food service over the last week at 6pm.
“Firstly, we are not a restaurant. There are many fine restaurants and pizza places in Douglas village that serve late into the night. Secondly, there is no sign in our bar that says, ‘full menu all day’. We proudly serve food seven days a week, breakfast & lunch from Monday to Friday.”
“We serve an Early Bird menu and a great, popular, well-priced Evening bar menu until 8pm. We are primarily a bar, so we don’t serve meals after 8pm.
“About 6 months ago we noticed some demand for some kind of light finger food late for our customers to have with drinks. We decided to buy a stone-baked pizza oven. The pizzas may not be pizzeria standard, but they are top quality, well priced and honestly have been very well received.
“I am disappointed that you have rated us so poorly on TripAdvisor and you haven’t even eaten here? Maybe you could share the rest of your experience? As in, I’m not sure if you had a drink here? Was the service satisfactory? Did you receive a friendly welcome?
“Finally, as you can see, we do get good reviews and we work hard to have happy customers. I do take on board your comments and I hope you will visit us again.”
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