But you knew that already. In tracking links to our website, there have been a few consistent threads where we're referenced and those I've followed, but only a few days ago decided to see what else might be on the site. Almost everything is positive but there is one post that records a possible negative experience. I say possible because there is another restaurant in the area with a similar enough name that we've received deliveries for them and vice versa. Plus, the situation described doesn't match our current staffing etc.
I replied to the posting, asking when the person dined with us and asking for the opportunity to make things right. The posting was removed, and I posted again. This time it was removed and the following was sent: "Sorry, but Chowhound is not a balanced discussion between consumers and restaurants. It is a consumer resource. It is not a venue for you or any other restaurateur to do
To which I replied: "If that's the case how can I ensure the information on Chowhound is accurate?
Given the post I was responding to it seems the person (xxx) has us confused with a restaurant in the area with a similar name.
Consumer resources should include an arena for businesses to respond to and correct any problems, particularly when the problem stated is vague (poor service) vs specific (my chicken was overcooked)."
Their response: "Yes, we totally understand your feeling. It's frustrating not to be able to answer
back and make your case, and it feels unbalanced that you're not allowed to, we know. But, as an eater (rather than as a pro), you'd surely prefer a resource where commercial parties are not allowed to self-tout and spin control. There aren't many level playing fields where consumers can swap opinions, though there are many places for restaurants to air their messages. So while what we do seems to lack balance, Chowhound does offer a balance (i.e. to marketing, etc) in the larger view."
Back at them: "There's a difference between self-touting/spin control and having an honest concern that a customer left unhappy. As an owner I want people to have good time. In this instance I am not so much worried about protecting our reputation as I am resolving a (possible) complaint or misunderstanding with a particular customer. No one registered any complaint with management, because I am it. If I am not given the opportunity to resolve a complaint XXX should not be given the
opportunity to air a complaint and say that management was non-responsive.
As you point out I am also a consumer. Given your policy I cannot trust the information on Chowhound as anyone can post whatever spurious information they choose (as long as they are "eaters").
I understand your policies and disagree with them. Many bloggers have also registered their disappointment with Chowhound's arbitrary removal of posts."
To which I got no response.
This bullshit about "There aren't many level playing fields where consumers can swap opinions, though there are many places for restaurants to air their messages." is ludicrous. There has never been a greater number of avenues for consumers to swap opinions. The more responsible of the sites allow for a response from management.
Obviously, the solution is to never have an unhappy customer. That's definitely our goal. When I'm on the floor I try to head off any possible problems, as do our waiters, bussers and cooks. On the bottom of the receipt we have a line that tells diners "If you had a good time tell your friends. If you didn't, tell us." We don't want people leaving unhappy. We will fix the problem, whatever it may be.
It's infuriating for people to publish opinions and have no opportunity to respond. It's infuriating for people to bitch about a problem we were never given the chance to correct. People are soooo weird about food and service. If you have a problem or concern, let management know. While you are there. That way they can fix it. If you don't, at least have give the courtesy of a phone call or letter.
If management is non-responsive, by all means, let 'em have it. If you have a dispute with a credit card charge, the policy of the card company is to contact the merchant and try to resolve the situation to determine whether the charge is valid. If the merchant is non-responsive, or if the charge is incorrect, the charge is indeed removed. Apply the same logic to resolving other consumer complaints. If the issue isn't resolved, then make the video to post on YouTube about how bad your experience was. Not before.