Guilt over writing bad online reviews or using coupons?
March 14, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Do you ever feel bad about writing bad online reviews or using coupons? Am I ridiculous for even worrying about it? More below.

I really like reviewing stuff online. I personally use online reviews to make decisions all the time and I feel like once I've experienced a place, there's no reason not to pass along my newly acquired knowledge to someone who could use it. I also think it stems from a disdain for chains (where you always know exactly what you are getting) -- I want to try unfamiliar places and I hope other people will too. But feel a bit guilty about writing a bad review. These restaurants and businesses are people's livelihoods and these aren't giant corporate chains but families who are trying to bring something new to the world. Specifically, a new Indian restaurant opened up near me and I was excited to try it because I love Indian food, but it was AWFUL. I wanted to give it a 1-star rating, but I gave it 2-stars because I felt bad. I still feel like I should go back and be honest with a 1-star, but then I feel like an asshole because the family that owned it was so nice. I was as constructive as possible in my review, but still. Is it shitty to just leave a scathing review and move on?

And then, what about coupons? I will use a coupon at, say, McDonalds, but I won't at, say, a local Indian restaurant. Part of me realizes this is irrational because the franchise owner of McDonalds could very well be some local family who took a chance, just like the family owning the Indian place. But I guess I don't care if McDonalds went out of business, but I'd feel bummed if a local Indian place closed. But then I think, well they chose to issue coupons -- I can't make their business decisions for them. And if I have already been there without a coupon, why can't I save $10 myself? I probably in just the past few months could've saved like $50-$100 using coupons/vouchers for these types of places, but I just refuse and I hardly have money to spare these days.

Do you feel any ethical or moral dilemmas in the world of patronizing local businesses? Or do I need to get a life? :)
posted by AppleTurnover to Human Relations (42 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
They want you to use the coupon so that you'll be a regular customer and give them lots of business. So don't feel guilty, go, eat.

As for reviews, don't be mean, be honest.

Don't say, "The place is filthy, the food is gross."

Say, "The tables were sticky, the floors were tracked up and the Naan on the table was stale and hard. The curry was lacking flavor and instead incredibly hot."

I review every damn thing and I list anything you'd want to know about the place.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [18 favorites]

IF the place doesn't know that customers aren't happy, how can they improve? You don't have to be an abusive crank to give concrete suggestions about what went wrong and what could be better. And I wouldn't worry about coupons--if the place is that close to going under, you can tip big to make up for the discount.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2013

Is it shitty to just leave a scathing review and move on?

For a brand-new restaurant that doesn't have corporate backing, I would refrain from writing a review until you've given them a chance to work out the kinks. There are always kinks. Sometimes food, sometimes service, sometimes atmosphere, whatever. A local place a month or two after opening is often a completely different place than in week one.

Coupons are designed to get you in the door. Tip based on the full price rather than the discounted price and you're golden.
posted by headnsouth at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [17 favorites]

Do book reviews count? I feel bad writing poor reviews of books to the point where though I'd like to have the online reference for myself to remember what I thought when I read it I can not often bring myself to write a less than complimentary comment - even "I just kept waiting for something to happen and it never did". This may stem in part from having 2 authors comment on my reviews.
posted by RoadScholar at 10:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it's ever possible to contact the business directly to let them know the problems you had with it, I think that's a good way to go. It lets you express your thoughts, and it gives them a chance to redeem themselves before a bunch of people see your review and never give them that chance.

As for coupons, yeah, those exist to bring customers in. Don't feel bad using them.
posted by wondermouse at 10:10 AM on March 14, 2013

I think it was a Planet Money episode that pointed out that coupons are the equivalent of haggling: They're a way of saying to the customer that if you're willing to spend the time wrangling coupons we're willing to cut the price a bit.

Helped me put coupons in perspective (especially for those big chains that do regular couponing, but also for small businesses).
posted by straw at 10:18 AM on March 14, 2013

Look, this is healthy. The internet is full of "meh" reviews by people looking to score Yelp points or whatever who never seem to have noticed they're talking about several people's livelihoods. If more people thought like you did, the world would be a better place. Accountability is a good thing.

To second headnsouth and wondermouse, if it's early days and they need to get the kinks worked out, send your feedback to the business directly.

Don't feel bad about using coupons. If the place is good, recommend it and go back. That's the point of the coupon.
posted by thetortoise at 10:23 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Regarding coupons, restaurants don't print them because they think they will lose money in the long run. In theory, any temporary loss from the coupon should be made up for in additional volume of more people coming into the restaurant, in part due to the discount, but also in part due to the advertising of the coupon itself. So, enjoy using them, as they are hoping that you (and more of your friends) will use them, as well. Also, you can't put money on engendering a feeling of good-will in your customer through a discount that may get them to come back again.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:23 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could only write positive reviews, and then pass over the bad restaurants in silence. No conflict there.

Alternatively, you could review everything, always being honest about it, but never being nasty. Besides, almost no restaurant on the planet deserves vitriol - overblown, whiny Yelp reviews are pretty sad. Either way, you're not in charge of their PR.

The people who run the restaurant may have a family, but you're not part of their family. It's not like you eat there for free or they have you on speed dial. There is absolutely nothing wrong with honestly stating your honest, reasonably-level opinion about a restaurant, for good or for ill. If it really is a crappy restaurant, then it's better for them to get out of the business sooner rather than later.

When you give a positive review, you're not saying a restaurant is good because running a restaurant exemplifies good moral character or whatever. You're saying it's good because its restaurant experience is good. Besides, many well-run restaurants may well be run by people who are not otherwise "good" people, or at least, no better whatsoever than those who run crummier restaurants.


As for coupons, they are literally made to be used. Use them. Just as the restaurant is not your family, you are not their accountant. They'll honor the coupons which they think will be a net positive for their business.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:25 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

They chose to distribute coupons in order to promote their business. They should be happy to see them being used.
posted by General Tonic at 10:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I try to keep this Alice Miller quote in mind when offering any kind of criticism, and that includes writing reviews:

"If it is very painful for you to criticize your friends, you are safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that is the time to hold your tongue."
posted by thetortoise at 10:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [20 favorites]

As a small business owner who has used coupons for my business I can say, I know what I'm doing. Does every small business owner do the math before releasing a coupon? No. But most do. I did the math forwards and backwards to make sure that running the coupon was worth it, and in the end, it was totally worth it.

So yes, use the coupons guilt free. Either the business owner made an informed decision about creating the coupon or they didn't. If they didn't then they probably aren't going to last that long anyway and it has nothing to do with you.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:36 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

The coupons are a business plan from the restaurant. There is a place near me that emails me a $10 coupon every month, plus an extra one on my birthday. One might argue that they're losing money, especially when 6 of us go in and we each use our $10 and knock a $150 group bill down to $90. BUT, I go there every month. I go out to eat maybe 4-6 times per month, and one of them is there. Sometimes two, if my husband and I spend our $10 early and the next weekend our friends say "come with us, we're going to spend our $10!" That restaurant is getting way more of my money than they would if they didn't have this ongoing promotion - if they didn't send me those coupons I wouldn't have gone there more than a couple of times. It's not just an encouragement to come check out the restaurant, it's an encouragement to be a regular patron.
posted by aimedwander at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2013

One thing that helps me is to be mindful. Why are you doing what you are doing? What are your intentions? Are they good? If so, go forward without guilt.

What's the point of writing the bad review? To warn others that the food isn't great, and to let the owners know that the food isn't great. You were constructive and helpful in your review, as you say, so you did fine.

What's the point of using a coupon? To save money. It's OK to save money. It's OK to treat yourself to a good meal and to save a few dollars doing it. It's not like you are lying and saying it's your birthday to get a free dessert. Others above have also explained how the coupon works from the restaurant owner's side of things, which might help you with your guilt a bit, too.

I would suggest that if you feel bad enough to ask the Internet about this stuff, you might want to get a workbook on self esteem. It is OK to use coupons, and it is OK to have critical things to say about restaurants and local establishments.

Your opinions and your pocketbook matter. It's OK to think about yourself sometimes.
posted by sockermom at 10:41 AM on March 14, 2013

I think one big problem with coupons (or Groupon) is when people who already know about the place keep using them, especially if they built their order around the coupon and/or only tip on the actual bill. By building your order around the coupon, I mean things like only getting two entrees and nothing else if you have a buy one/get one entree, things like that. I've seen too many accounts of family-owned businesses losing money that way. Those deals are meant to entice new customers and there is a point at which people are gaming them. Fine if it's TGIF, but I wouldn't do it to an independent business.

RoadScholar, I feel that way about books too. I don't put negative reviews on Amazon (any more? I may have in the past). At times I have gone back to Goodreads and added a star because I felt bad on consideration. If I'm going to say something negative, I'll probably compensate a bit on the star rating.
posted by BibiRose at 10:44 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thank you so much for writing reviews, both bad and good. Especially if you are a thoughtful writer who gives people the benefit of a doubt. This is a great service you are doing. Please don't stop.
posted by amtho at 10:48 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

I've done theater reviews in the past, and have sometimes had the opposite problem - I've seen one or two shows that have SUCKED MUTANT DANDELION SPOOGE; I'm talking serious, serious Plan 9 From Outer Space level of bad. And I have desperately wanted to channel my inner Dorothy Parker and rip into them like an angry ferret.

But the guy whose site I write for has a very strict rule about negative criticism - it must be constructive. It should still be honest - the people who would potentially be seeing the show after me would need to know what it's really like. But it should be fair, too; and a constructive critique can even help a developing artist, he said (a young lighting designer would benefit from the feedback that "this space was a little too big for us to really benefit from the subtle lighting designs that the designer was trying to use"). You know? If you do the right kind of critique, you can help them.

What's helped me temper my response may also help you - if you have a negative response, try first writing a huge, angry rant of a review just for you. Then, when you've gotten that out of your system, take a deep breath - and write the real review, focusing on presenting an honest, clear, and constructive response. Praise what was good ("The wait staff seemed especially knowledgeable about what people with gluten-free diets can and can't have" or whatever), acknowledge what you think they were trying to do ("pepper in the bruschetta seemed an unusual spin on the traditional ingredients"), and point out where it fell short ("I'd have appreciated less spice, though, as the pepper just overshadowed everything else").

Constructive criticism can indeed help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

When writing an online review on, say, Yelp, it is often difficult to be the first reviewer. If it is a local spot that is starting up, I consider my thoughts carefully.

If it was rude service or something of that nature, I have no problem speaking my mind. If it seemed like they were doing their best and had room for improvement, I might hold off on the review and try again in a few weeks.

In the meantime, you might contact the restaurant directly and mention the issues you had with the quality, but that you hope to be a repeat customer if the food quality improves.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2013

There is a restaurant near my place that went through a lot of drama to open and my neighborhood doesn't have a lot of restaurants. However, it was never great and I'd say that it has gotten worse. When it first opened, I took people there who were visiting but now I don't. I would feel sad if it closed, even though I'm not a fan, so after the last time I visited and had a mediocre experience, I sent an email to the general manager. His reply wasn't especially helpful but it was polite and friendly. I felt better emailing someone about it than putting a review on Yelp because I didn't want to publicly say that this place is only okay. I feel at peace with that decision. Now when I go there, I don't expect much, but I have also voiced my opinion.
posted by kat518 at 11:01 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I use Yelp pretty frequently to decide where to eat, and I contribute to the local Yelp community.
To assuage my own fears about being a dick, if I have a single mediocre or bad experience, I usually don't review. If there's a repeated theme or a really egregious issue, I will review & include that in my review. I generally try places 2-3 times before reviewing, and try to focus on the positives of the experience, but if there's a reason you won't go back, include that in the review! Online reviews are only as useful as the people doing the reviews make them, so I try to assume the best of people and include information I would want to know!
posted by worstname at 11:06 AM on March 14, 2013

I sent an email to the general manager. His reply wasn't especially helpful but it was polite and friendly. I felt better emailing someone about it than putting a review on Yelp because I didn't want to publicly say that this place is only okay.

The new Indian place that I want to give a 1-star review doesn't have a website or an email address I know of. In fact, being the committed Yelper I am, I got a takeout menu from them (before I tried the food, yuck) and posted pictures on Yelp so people wondering about the restaurant had a menu to look at! (I mean, I got the menu for me so I could try it in the future. But I shared the menu to help the restaurant get the word out, to be honest.) It makes me feel worse that now along with the pictures I added I'm all "This food had literally no flavor and I had to pour salt and sugar in it. Oh, and the vegetables seemed like they were dried and not fresh." But I really don't want them to know who I am, and sending an actual letter to say I thought their food was gross, in this modern era, feels like an aggressive act. I often wonder if restaurants even check websites like Yelp. I hope they do, but who knows, especially if this place doesn't even have a website.

To assuage my own fears about being a dick, if I have a single mediocre or bad experience, I usually don't review. If there's a repeated theme or a really egregious issue, I will review & include that in my review.

Once I have a bad experience, I don't go back. The point is, I feel like I wasted $20, had a very unsatisfying dinner and I am trying to tell other people to be careful about wasting their money/time too. I was struck by how another review had the exact same notes I did about the food, so I feel confident in what I said. That seems like kind of the point of reviewing. Yes, the New York Times visits a restaurants four times before leaving a scathing review, but they are the New York Times and the reviewer gets reimbursed for his/her meals!
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:08 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't feel bad about the coupon thing at all. 9 times out of 10 someone who has a coupon ends up spending more than they usually would if they didn't have a coupon, because they feel like they're "saving" money, so why not splurge? This is probably true of you too, even if you're not conscious of it. Believe me, business owners know this and that's why they issue coupons. It gets people to the restaurant. If they were truly losing money, no such coupons would exist.
posted by katyggls at 11:27 AM on March 14, 2013

The reviews I utilize are mainly Urbanspoon—usually just the percentage of positive reviews—and food blogs. If you find it relevant, I have a food blog of my own and have made a conscious decision to only post reviews of positive dining experiences.

I personally use online reviews to make decisions all the time and I feel like once I've experienced a place, there's no reason not to pass along my newly acquired knowledge to someone who could use it.

Maybe this is just me, but negative online reviews don't influence to NOT try a place, whereas positive online reviews can and do influence me to try a place. I can think of two occasions in the past couple weeks in which food bloggers posted about bad experiences at restaurants where I have been multiple times and had consistently great experiences. I've learned that (1) all restaurants and businesses have off-days, no matter whether it's a mom-and-pop shop or a three-Michelin star tasting menu, and (2) a positive review is more likely to be useful to me than a negative review.

I'm a human being. I make mistakes. If I were a waitress or line cook and I had an off-day, I would feel terribly guilty to know that I may have hurt my employer because a frustrated customer had immortalized my off-day on the internet. I want to give employees and businesses the benefit of doubt in the same way that I hope business patrons would give me the benefit of doubt.

Nthing other comments suggesting leniency towards recently-opened businesses (less than a year) that are still working out kinks. Also, I've had some terrible meals, but I've never felt that it was the responsibility of other diners to warn me away from the restaurant.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 11:32 AM on March 14, 2013

I do often avoid using coupons for stores/businesses that:

a) are small / individual
b) I already frequent

In that case, it's not helping them as an advertisment/lure and just costing them money. Of course, I also overtip in general and frankly can afford to pass up savings, so I don't know if I'd behave the same if I were on a more limited budget.

If its something I've never done, or if it's Target or something, I would not feel bad at all. Although I usually just forget or never get around to using coupons.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:41 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I approach this question as a published writer whose work receives both positive and negative reviews (so, your typical writer). But I think it makes no difference whether you're a writer or restauranteur: if you put out a product for public consumption, you must be prepared for feedback -- and if you're wise, you'll hope for honest feedback rather than empty flattery.

Indeed, think about when you go on Amazon and see fifty reviews for a book, all but forty-nine of them five stars. Myself, I get suspicious that the author has been trying to game the system. On a different note, if the review distribution is more equitable, I STILL go to the negative reviews to see what some people did NOT like about the book. As often as not, the negative reviews that are detailed and well-written make me decide to BUY the book, because those readers' tastes (and dislikes, and pet peeves) do not align with mine.

In short: your honesty is helpful and you should not feel bad about it, so long as your review is concrete and specific (as someone suggested above). After all, your dislikes might actually be someone else's favorite things (I mean, someone out there has to like stale naan!).
posted by artemisia at 11:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm going against the grain and saying that I feel bad using Groupon knowing what I know about their business model. I'll use a Groupon for a large company, but I avoid coupons for small, local businesses because they generally get screwed by Groupon and other similar services.

I don't feel guilty about leaving bad reviews, but if you find yourself only leaving a bad review of service, please consider if your expectations for restaurant service make sense in context. I see a lot of Yelp reviews complaning about bad service at restaurants that are small and cheap and one step above fast food - get over yourselves, yelpers!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:59 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

One area where I have no problem putting negative reviews online, have done it and will do it again: when there is a bad customer service feature that seems like a structural thing from management. Like a restaurant which practices egregious table-turning and where you can see it's not just an overeager server, but a manager directing them to do this. Or a hotel with particularly obnoxious tricks for padding your bill. I always suspect places like this are shitty to their employees as well as their customers, so I only do it when there is not some hapless front-line person who might take the fall for it.
posted by BibiRose at 12:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with artemisia - bad reviews are helpful! I think providing details about exactly why you didn't like the food would be extremely helpful. Was it too spicy? Not spicy enough? greasy? Do you have any special diet restrictions? All of that detail helps me figure out if I am similar enough to you in taste to feel the same way. And you're doing everyone a favor so they don't have to spend $20 on a bad meal and feel irritated.

I find that yelp is very useful if there are lots of reviews - because chances are the mass of people giving their opinions are landing roughly in the right place. So I always look for the overall stars and what negative and positive reviews specifically say to make a final decision.

I wouldn't feel guilty about coupons, but groupons have issues and I find restaurants are not actually all that happy about you using them in my experience, so I have phased them out.
posted by rainydayfilms at 12:48 PM on March 14, 2013

I think as long as a review is honest and detailed it's fine.

I don't use groupons and would only use a restaurant coupon for a place that was new to me and that I knew I might come back to if I liked. Restaurants run on very slim margins and honestly if I like a place I don't want to be part of the reason it folds. I hate when that happens.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2013

i just pulled out a coupon that my auto mechanic had put online that gave me $50 off a repair. when i showed it to them they grabbed it immediately and figured out how to best use it to reduce my bill. i apologized (it even said 'present before work starts') but they said no problem. they were glad i was using it.

so no, don't feel guilty. if they didn't want people to use coupons then they wouldn't issue them.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 2:51 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

It makes me feel worse that now along with the pictures I added I'm all "This food had literally no flavor and I had to pour salt and sugar in it. Oh, and the vegetables seemed like they were dried and not fresh."

Is that what you really said in your review? Because that is not a constructive review and hyperbole should never be part of any review. The food did not "literally have no flavor." It may have been bland, but it isn't 100% devoid of all flavor. All food has a flavor. Also you did not "pour salt and sugar" into your food, it would have been inedible at that point.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:03 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I use coupons but I don't use Groupons since I find that smaller establishments simply cannot effectively serve the Groupon swarms. And for the love of all things holy, tip on the whole bill even if you have a discount.

I don't write bad reviews.
posted by murfed13 at 3:09 PM on March 14, 2013

As a consumer, I want to know if other people who ate at the restaurant I'm considering found the food stale, the meat tasting frozen, the service staff rude, the bathrooms dirty, you name it. My time, energy, and money are limited.

As a reviewer, I try to be honest above all else.

As a writer, I have gotten negative reviews, and felt terrible about some of them, but ultimately took what was useful from them and forgot the rest.

With things like Yelp, if you happened to go on a bad night when half the kitchen staff called out sick and the turmeric ran out and they got a shipment of wilted fenugreek from their usually reliable supplier, the positive reviews from the people who go on the good nights will balance your account of a bad night out.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:11 PM on March 14, 2013

Oh, and tip on the whole bill even if you use a coupon. Businesses use coupons as advertising; they budget the cost of that coupon against the benefit of getting new customers in the door. If they hadn't invested in the coupon, they would most likely have allocated that cost to other advertising.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:13 PM on March 14, 2013

I take TripAdvisor reviews very seriously. I feel bad when I stay at a hotel or B+B where the owners are really nice, try very hard to make everyone comfortable, but is in a location that I just can't recommend. It's happened to me twice now. The first time I just didn't write a review, but the second time, I did, and tried to be very specific about what bothered me. I was reluctant to write it, but kept coming back to that if someone had warned me about the location, I wouldn't have stayed there (being an older, female, skittish traveler). And I would have appreciated it. So yes, I think I did the right thing, but yes, still feel a little guilty about it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 4:42 PM on March 14, 2013

Is that what you really said in your review? Because that is not a constructive review and hyperbole should never be part of any review. The food did not "literally have no flavor." It may have been bland, but it isn't 100% devoid of all flavor. All food has a flavor. Also you did not "pour salt and sugar" into your food, it would have been inedible at that point.

No, that is not what I said. I was paraphrasing and kind of joking about what I wrote. I am smart enough to know if I quote my exact review here, anyone could google it and find my real identity that I use on Yelp. Duh. But thanks for the lecture, Captain Literal. One point of clarification though, the dish did literally have no flavor. That is not an exaggeration. I kept tasting it to see what I could taste, if I could make out a single vegetable they used or spice, and it honestly tasted like a water-flavored sauce. I, of course, didn't say that -- I suggested what they should have added to that dish and what other restaurants usually have in that dish that makes it taste good.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:18 PM on March 14, 2013

It feels kind of patronizing to sugar coat a terrible review, if you need to write one - they're adults. And I'm sure they know what kind of spices to put in Indian food. If it's watery, you could politely ask after tasting, you're quite sorry for the inconvenience, but you'd like a spicier dish and is another kind on the menu? Or else don't eat too much, pay your bill and leave the rest, and they'll figure it out I think; then don't go back.

I think you can almost always tell if a restaurant isn't going to be good before you even order - by word of mouth, by how busy it is, by the design, the upkeep, and the menu. If I notice these things and eat there anyway and the food isn't good, my fault for being too lazy to cook or go somewhere else. It seems fair to be out the cost of a meal for that. I'm not going to Yelp about it, because that means I'm spending more of my time working for Yelp for free so they can make money off selling ads and filtering reviews. Plus, minimizing stress levels where I live means it's necessary to not care about wasting $20 from time to time. That's like two drinks. A restaurant doing Groupons or Living Socials around here is nearly always average to bad anyhow, so you get what you get if you pay money for a Groupon to go there. (DC metro area, there are many good restaurants.)
posted by citron at 5:57 PM on March 14, 2013

I hear you about having a bad experience and not wanting to go back (or having the $ to spend on another iffy experience) but, one of the restaurant reviewers I regularly read (and like) has a policy of waiting until a place has been open a month and visiting three times before reviewing. You are not a professional reviewer so the stakes are obviously quite lower but in general I think it's a reasonable rule of thumb and something to consider.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 6:53 PM on March 14, 2013

I would proceed with caution with writing a bad review. Kinda depends on what you're reviewing and where and how many others are doing it.

In this specific case: the people are nice (let's face if, if the staff are jerks I'd care less about hurting their feelings), but it sounds like they don't have much, if any, web presence. So odds are they won't see it. If you are the only person who has written a review on Yelp, and it's bad, I'd be less inclined to do it. If there's several reviews up and they are all bad or mixed quality, I'd be more inclined.

I don't review restaurants too often--I wrote one bad review on a local website because for the sterling reputation the place had, I found the food to be almost utterly tasteless. That's under my full name (uck), but there were enough reviews there of some mixed quality about the owners and whatnot that I didn't feel like the glaring red bomb-dropper on the page.

The reason I say to proceed with caution, though, is that I write a (happily, hardly ever read) book blog, and like someone else mentioned, I've had author complaints. I rarely review true stinker books anyway, but if there's some book that was soooooo bad I did not finish and it made me angry enough to rant, I'll find a way to indicate what book it was without setting off the author's Google alerts on their name/title. Sometimes leaving a bad review is not worth Teh Dramaz that can go off.

But you're probably less likely to run into drama bombs reviewing food than books, especially when it's on some popular website. You'll blend in with everyone else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:54 PM on March 14, 2013

Maybe do some small mystery shopping jobs so you have a positive outlet for your candid reviews? Just a thought!
posted by 99percentfake at 10:34 PM on March 14, 2013

After reading this thread, I checked Tripadvisor for a hotel I stayed at a few years back. There were quite a few reviews. Had I looked at Tripadvisor, I would have known not to stay there-- not only because of the problems with the place, but because of the way the owner/proprietor kept defensively answering the negative reviews.

Some of the things I disliked about that place wouldn't have bothered other people. But the negatives were mentioned in the reviews. (And there were some positive reviews that I also agreed with to some extent; the negatives were just deal-breakers for me.) Another example, I guess, of how useful honest and detailed reviews can be.
posted by BibiRose at 8:54 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

The restaurant is posting obviously fake 5-star reviews that Yelp's stupid filter is not picking up. Now I have absolutely no problem giving this place a 1-star rating. They should fix their food instead of registering new accounts to lie about the quality of their food, ugh.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:47 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

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