How to handle a negative review on Yelp?
July 16, 2013 6:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm a hostess at an upscale restaurant on the weekends, I have a higher-paying full time job during the week. I have many ADD symptoms I've struggled with, so it's much more challenging for me than the average person. I'm proud of myself for taking the job and building upon my weaknesses (i.e., low spatial intelligence). I was taking a look at the Yelp reviews while working there tonight and my heart SANK - a customer wrote a very nasty review about me, and specified the date, so it can be traced back to me. It was a busy night and I'd had an extremely stressful day before I got there, I know that's no excuse, but I was doing the best I could. Is there anything I can do? Should I message the person explaining/apologizing? If I do, should I ask them to take it down? Should I just quit so they can find someone better? I hate feeling this way. I was laughing, having a good time with the servers tonight, then after reading this felt like crying, everyone could tell something was wrong. I thought I was doing something good for myself by taking this job.
posted by bluelights to Work & Money (49 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would just ignore it. It's just one person's opinion of one portion of one night of service.
posted by xingcat at 6:46 PM on July 16, 2013 [15 favorites]

Flag it if it makes you feel better and forget it exists. You were fine; they're jerks and like making people feel bad non-constructively. If they really wanted you and the restaurant to do better, they would have said something to you or your manager while they visited.
posted by michaelh at 6:50 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I basically always discount angry rants on Yelp because they're so often disconnected from the actual real world. If the person wrote something that does help you in some constructive way, then learn from it, but otherwise-- ranters going to rant from the safety of their keyboards.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:51 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Oh man, ignore. As we say on Metafilter, "flag it and move on." I know it's way easier said than done to disregard negative comments like this, but please try. Michaelh is right that if they wanted to be useful they would have talked to you or your manager; they're just being jerks on the Internet. And remember that jerks overstate things on the internet too, so their snarkiness is even less of a reflection on you.

Also, be gentle with yourself. Hostessing is hard, hard work. It's not always going to go perfectly, and no one should expect it to.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 6:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would DEFINITELY not quit over a Yelp review, that's for sure. I might respond like "I'm the host that served you, and I'm sorry things didn't go so well. Come back and have a slice of pie on me." Don't do this if the comment was really really super mean.

I wouldn't take it personally, even if it is super personal. Calling people out by name (that don't own the restaurant or cook the food, especially) in a review is highly inappropriate and would never make print in our newspaper days of yore.

I would have a friend read it out loud dramatically with you as audience for comedic effect. You work two jobs, you don't need this bull! Maybe do the same for their other reviews on yelp. Have a laugh and move on with your life.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:53 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't respond--it's like letting the person win, because they'd know they upset you. I'd just keep on trying to do your best at your job. I definitely wouldn't quit--like others said, it's just one person's opinion. I hope you feel better soon.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:54 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Please don't quit over a Yelp review. We all have our days. This person was probably having a bad day too and took it out on you. So just ignore it and move on.
posted by special-k at 6:56 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

If it helps, I for one never pay attention to that aspect of reviews on Yelp. I want to hear if the food is good, sure, but I don't listen to what people say about service. I know too much about the insanity of retail customers to take some WELL I NEVER rant at face value.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [21 favorites]

Response by poster: Bless all your hearts, I guess this is one of those things that will be no big deal in a few days. Even reading it again when I got home I had much less of a reaction to it. Thanks guys.
posted by bluelights at 6:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Another vote for IGNORE.

I don't even have your issues and I don't do hostessing/serving types of jobs, because CANNOT DO. They make me cry. In fact, the one time I was working in a restaurant and was 'promoted' from kitchen hand to waitress, I asked to be put back in the kitchen within a month.

People are assholes. Also, I have been to restaurants and thought the service was great, and then walked out and someone from my table has sneered about it.

You are rightly proud of yourself; keep on keeping on! :)
posted by Salamander at 7:05 PM on July 16, 2013

I would try to be really great at the job, and hope to get some great Yelp reviews in the future. Aside from that, I would take no further action.
posted by box at 7:10 PM on July 16, 2013

I made it three days as a server in college. Kudos to you! It's hard work.

Also: think how many people have had a superb experience at the restaurant because of YOU!
posted by michellenoel at 7:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

The expectations some people have of servers to be like subservient slaves who never error is ridiculous and one of the last bastions of entitled bullshit that's openly tolerated in modern society(can you tell i've worked in food service? ha!)

I got more than a couple "negative reviews" in my time working at various food places/as a barista. A lot of people also loved me. None of my bosses ever cared, and i always maintained a pretty "fuck the haters" attitude. Which is what i'm going to advise here.

I'll also add that people seem to expect even more of the above bullshit from women who work these kinds of jobs. They're somehow held to a higher standard by certain bosses/coworkers and definitely certain customers. Keep that in mind when you judge how seriously to take this(which i still say, would be not at all), That you might be getting judged unfairly here even more than one of your coworkers would be...
posted by emptythought at 7:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

There will always be haters. Don't let it harsh your mellow.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some people just look for reasons to complain. It's so hard not to take it personally sometimes, but it's important that you don't let it get to you. It sounds like the other customers and your coworkers think you're just fine, so fuck that guy.

Here's a classy and responsible thing to do: ask to meet with your manager before or after your shift. Mention the Yelp review, and ask for her input on whether there's anything you can do to improve, as well as what to do about the review. (Trying to contact the reviewer yourself is a misstep, since it might be interpreted as your speaking on behalf of the restaurant, which I'm guessing you're in no position to do.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do NOT reply unless you've cleared it with your supervisor and management first. (I wouldn't reply at all, actually, but you certainly shouldn't represent the restaurant on a public forum without the restaurant's official ok.)
posted by jaguar at 7:27 PM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]

That's the problem regarding yelp -- ALWAYS two sides any story and it's hard for the other one to come could write "another review" from an inside perspective, explain the food is good, sorry for the service and talk about doing better next. Tripadvisor seems to allow this "retort" capability. The one thing I know when we age is that us homo sapiens are complex creatures and it just seems harsh to dismiss and condemn someone without getting to know them.
posted by skepticallypleased at 7:49 PM on July 16, 2013

Don't read it any more, and be careful about catastrophizing. I do this, too, and I know I have to stop myself sometimes and remind myself that just because I had an off day doesn't mean I'm a total loser, etc.

You know, I bet if you showed that Yelp review to the other hostesses, they'd probably be coming to your defense and saying what a jerk that customer was! One silly Yelp review doesn't mean you should never have taken the job. Please, don't read it again if it makes you feel bad, and don't sweat the small stuff.
posted by misha at 8:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That's actually what the customer called me in the review, a 'loser.' Silly really...
posted by bluelights at 8:04 PM on July 16, 2013

It's NOT your prerogative to respond. ANY response on yelp can get you fired. This is the restaurant owner's issue, NOT yours.
I would write down a short summery of what happened that night. Then do some research on best practices on handling negative reviews.
Then you can go to the head manager/owner and say "We got a negative yelp review. We have an opportunity to turn it into positive publicity. Here is my account of what happened, and here are some of the expert's recommendations on how to handle it."
Or you can just ignore it.
posted by Sophont at 8:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

This is the restaurant owner's issue, NOT yours.

posted by goethean at 8:21 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have worked in the service industry and know for a fact that the customer is most definitely not always right. Sometimes they're total jerks. And I have also found that the jerkiest ones often are the most entitled and demanding.

I of course don't know what this person said, but I do know that as a someone who reads Yelp reviews I take negative comments on Yelp with huge grain of salt. People have different expectations and taste and so seeing one negative review isn't enough to sour me on an establishment.

You should definitely not invest too much if any time in going over this review. Ask for feedback from your co-workers and manager. They have seen you enough and have enough context to give you useful feedback.

Also, though this is a crap shoot, you could see if this person has a pattern of leaving negative reviews on Yelp. That would give you some idea if they're a crank or not.
posted by brookeb at 8:29 PM on July 16, 2013

Everyone has off days. You're allowed, and it's not a big deal. People who have "bad" or at the very least, less than ideally expected experiences tend to post reviews online far more often than people who have good ones so, personally, I'd just ignore it. Unless the person pointed out things you've struggled with previously/issues brought to your attention by managers or coworkers, I'd say that you're okay not assigning much weight to a single review from a single customer.
posted by sm1tten at 8:34 PM on July 16, 2013

The restaurant I work at is rated by Zagat to be #1 in our category. We have tons of regular customers who come several times a week (and a few who come once or more EVERY day.) Customers know us all by name, they get upset when someone quits, they know our personal lives. But we still get the occasional Yelp review saying how terrible the whole wait staff is, that the hostesses are rude, etc. And yet they keep coming back. Some of the biggest complainers are our most regular customers. Some people just like to bitch. We don't take it seriously, our management doesn't take it seriously, and neither should you.

TL;DR Some people are just assholes.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:04 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's actually what the customer called me in the review, a 'loser.' Silly really...

I'm trying to think of a genuine restaurant review that would include the word "loser" and coming up blank. Vote #325 to ignore and carry on doing a great job!
posted by humph at 12:53 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

What happened to you is just a natural outgrowth of living in what I'm calling Fast-Twitch Comment Culture, in which everything you do and say in the public sphere can become fodder for snark and mockery. It's just something we will all have to learn how to endure.

Why do people do this? My theory is that we're all hard-wired for social learning from other's mistakes. Comment Culture is a sped-up, anonymous version of gossip, a process that allows both social bonding and examination of other people's social errors.

Everyone who leaves the house and interacts with other human beings will eventually deal with what you experienced. I don't know if it helps, but you're in good company.
posted by itstheclamsname at 1:27 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Their life must be pretty horrible for them to call a stranger who is just trying to do their job "a loser". I'd pity them, honestly.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:23 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Wow, that guy sounds like a real tool.

When I was a sales engineer at the phone company, we'd have a preliminary meeting to discuss all the steps of a project, what the critial points were, etc. It's a thing I did regularly, and I'd ALWAYS add this caveat. "We can plan this down to the nth degree, and there's a chance that for whatever reason, the whole thing will go into the ditch. It happens. We've done all we can on both sides to insure success, but as they say, 'Man proposes, God disposes.'

99% of the time, we'd all laugh, and the project would be executed with no major issues. And then, there'd be the one that went in the ditch. Typically, I'd call my contact and say, "I warned you, don't play the lottery, because it ain't your day."

So what I suspect is that this is the customer that went in the ditch. Not only did whatever you did make him angry, but his wait-person probably disappointed him, his food wasn't to his liking and the valet stole his change. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. He was venting. And it's dumb, because if you're that torqued, you need to talk to a manager and let her make it right.

Don't sweat the small stuff kiddo. Sometimes it'll be your fault, you can't be perfect and no one expects it. If you make a mistake, learn from it. If you have a bad day, make this one better.

Tooly McToolson there, he's always going to be the jerk who called out the hostess on Yelp. Always. What a tool.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:36 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm a boss type person. Mind you not a restaurant/bar boss, but this might be relevant anyways. In general when I hear complaints I look for one of two things, a) a pattern or b) severity. Because you do not what to chase down every single complaint, or that will be all you do, and that leads to a life full of grief, as I learned long ago, not all criticism is valid so really, as a boss, you look at 'is this person generally doing a good job, or is this person picking up complaints from multiple sources/times". The other things is of course severity. There are certain things you just don't ignore, even if they happen once. These are industry specific, but I'm sure you can make your own list.

So, yeah, one review on the internet that doesn't involve you spitting in the food or assaulting the clientele would be (for me) just this shy of useless. Of course your bosses may be different, but in the scheme of things, probably not too very different.
posted by edgeways at 6:12 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Every Yelp reader knows to take this kind of negativity with a pinch of salt.
posted by tel3path at 6:35 AM on July 17, 2013

Let's not forget that Yelp is this close to being a scam/extortion ring and people give bad reviews in an effort to get free stuff from the business. So, it is possible that this is not a real review at all.

Do NOT reply as that would be speaking on behalf of the business, and that would likely be a fire-able offense. As a person who deals regularly with small business owners, I find they basically don't care what Yelp reviewers say, especially the bad reviews (see aforementioned extortion). If something is really that bad with the service/product the customer will almost always express their concerns in person or over the phone, or at the very least through a direct email.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Another vote for ignore. I don't work in your field but I had many reviews on Rate My Professor that made me cry. I ended up having to go to a therapist about it because I was freezing up in front of the class, imagining them all writing nasty postings about how I should be a middle school teacher (like that is easier?!?!) because that is where I belong. Don't be me. Stay strong.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:25 AM on July 17, 2013

Adding to the chorus of just ignore. But if it will make you feel better to actually DO something, write a nice positive review the next time you encounter good service somewhere! Sort of a "pay it forward" kind of thing to balance out the negativity in the world.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:16 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm going to suggest not doing anything on Yelp, as others have, but for a somewhat different reason. Taking action on your own bad review is far more likely to get your ass fired than having received a bad review in the first place.

If your employer is the type to have a Yelp account and to respond to bad reviews, then they may or may not choose to deal with it, but trying to communicate with the user yourself without approval and input from your boss is never, ever going to work out well.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:31 AM on July 17, 2013

Best answer: If you were doing the best you could, it's almost certainly the other person's problem. A lot of negative reviews on Yelp and other sites like it are whiny and/or dickish. My guess is this is one of those. It's very likely NOT you.

Edit - just saw that the customer called you a "loser." So what I said above, doubled. Calling someone a "loser" is classic projection.
posted by cnc at 11:22 AM on July 17, 2013

I'm really sorry that happened to you! No good Yelp reviewer should be throwing around terms like *loser, * they are supposed to be reviewing the food and the service not making value judgements on peoples lives. So, crappy, unproductive, review equals just ignore it and definitely don't let someone like that make you feel badly about yourself. I am a Yelp reviewer and I appreciate this reminder that my reviews can seriously affect others lives and businesses. I try always to think before I post but I will be extra, extra, careful from now on.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2013

Best answer: I thought I was doing something good for myself by taking this job.

You are, my friend. You made a brave decision to take this job and get the chance to "build upon [your] weaknesses." As a bonus, you're reminded of the important lesson that sometimes people on the internet are just jerks.

I can be really sensitive to criticism, and it can really knock the wind out of me when I hear that someone's angry with me or unsatisfied with my work. Often, though, I have to remind myself that people are cranky cranks sometimes, and there's no pleasing them. Give yourself a pass, remember how great you are, and let it go. Basically, I'd agree with everyone else who's said, "just ignore it."
posted by elmer benson at 7:36 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks guys! This is a good life lesson for me, I tend to needlessly give other people's opinions much more weight than my own!!
posted by bluelights at 6:17 PM on July 19, 2013

You can please all of the people all of the time. Relax
posted by tiburon at 5:09 PM on July 20, 2013

Response by poster: guys, I'm freaking out right now... long story but I actually do suck, I almost got fired and I wore something inappropriate today and there was a huge event in the restaurant I didn't even know about, I was hung over on 4 hours of sleep. Now I'm absolutely terrified that someone is going to write something on Yelp, 3 customers complained about my outfit apparently. The worst part is my new full time job is starting tomorrow and I should be getting ready for that but everything's a mess and I'm looking at Yelp when that's the last thing I should be doing. I have no one I can talk to. I feel so dejected and trapped. And one of the waitresses works at my new job! That's the last thing I need... I don't know what to do.
posted by bluelights at 12:50 PM on July 21, 2013

Stop. Looking. At. Yelp. It has little to no bearing on your actual job. If you are worried about your performance, arrange a time before or after your shift to talk with your manager.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:57 PM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: How do I not look at it? This is bringing out the absolute worst in me. I'm scared
posted by bluelights at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2013

Concentrate on your new full-time job. Put your mental and emotional energy into that.

Instead of reading Yelp, read about your new employer or trends in the industry or whatever. Or, if you must read Yelp, read it to find out about exciting new going-out-to-lunch options near your new job.
posted by box at 1:21 PM on July 21, 2013

Response by poster: So, everything has changed since I made the post. This is part of a larger problem where I always feel "retarded" due to low spatial skills, slow processing, poor attention to detail, all of those things. As anyone who has similar issues can attest to: regardless of intelligence, if you can't get down those 'everyday life' things, you feel very unintelligent and clueless!

These responses helped tide me over about the Yelp comment for awhile. But then, as you can see above, one day I went in hung over on 4 hours of sleep and one of the managers basically told me she wants to fire me. She told me that all of the managers have complained about me.

I knew I wasn't doing a great job because I asked for more hours and was denied it, but that manager just told me "From what I've heard you're very reserved, and we don't like it when people are reserved because we want them to be comfortable. I only saw you during training and I thought you were fine, this is just what I've heard."

So when the manager reprimanded me, she said that manager (mentioned above) had said he's seen a big improvement, but she said she disagrees. As for the other two managers, one told me I was doing a great job, the other never commented one way or the other. So what I did was shadow another girl's shift to show that I care.

My full-time job lasted two days. I knew I would hate it, so I walked into HR and asked if I could be moved to the other job that had originally also been offered. She asked why and I said the wrong thing, they let me go that day. NOW I'm so thankful because I got an amazing admin job at the front desk of a company.

I quit the hosting job with no notice whatsoever. I feel horrible about it and I wish I knew what they really thought of me - did I really do that bad of a job? :( It's a hosting job. It pays $10 an hour. I'm a college graduate, if I can't perform that job then something is wrong.

Now for an admin job, I know I need to find a way to compensate. The girl who's training me is having me write down everything, and I just couldn't keep it organized. I worry that she's frustrated with that/thinks I'm a dumbass.

I KNOW I have the intelligence to do this job (same with the others), but I just have to work harder than most on the organization part. I guess I'm afraid to ask people for feedback because I don't want to know the answer - that I'm "that person" everyone thinks is a fucking retard. The girl training me hasn't been nice to me at all, and on Friday 10 minutes before it was time to leave she told me I could go and that "It's been a long week." Had she been training someone else, would she have said that...? I can't help but wonder.

Best case scenario would have been to improve my performance at the restaurant, give two weeks notice and tell them I'm starting a new full-time job I'm excited about. The only reason that didn't happen is because I drank too much that weekend before I was to start my new job and I knew I couldn't handle that coupled with preparing for the FT job, so I just quit.

I figured it wasn't worth the stress for the small amount of money... but now I don't know. It would have given me closure. Every job I've ever had, they basically wanted to fire me and it kills me. I want to feel competent at the little things, because I know I'm meant to do big things!

"they need to get rid of the LOSER host..." I'm not a loser!!
posted by bluelights at 9:54 AM on August 17, 2013

Looking at your past question and comments: You need to get your ADD treated. Probably with meds. At the very very very very BARE MINIMUM, you should not be going into work hungover OR on four hours of sleep, let alone both, probably ever but CERTAINLY NOT before you could do the job in your sleep.

You are not a loser, at all! You have untreated/undertreated ADD. You need to address that.
posted by jaguar at 10:25 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't know if I really have it/believe in it. I've taken medication before, I've been off it for awhile now.
posted by bluelights at 10:32 AM on August 17, 2013

I've seen entirely too many people with ADD get sucked into depression or feeling like "losers" because they thought they should just "buck up" and somehow magically pull themselves together, and I'm worried you're just sabotaging yourself. If I were you, I'd go to a psychiatrist and get evaluated.

If you don't have insurance, you can find a Community Health Center in Massachusetts here. They offer psychiatric appointments, too. A lot of ADD medications are now generic, and cheap.

Figuring out if something is medically or psychologically wrong, and fixing it if possible, is going to be way less expensive and way less time consuming than continually quitting or getting fired from jobs.
posted by jaguar at 12:43 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Can you tell me a little bit more about the examples of people with ADD? I actually have a decent amount of lasting power, I worked in an office job for 6 months (temp - I completed the assignment) and did a good job. I know that's not much but it's something..
posted by bluelights at 1:22 PM on August 17, 2013

Are People with ADHD Lazy?: The moral diagnosis of ADHD: ADHD adults can tell you they are working really hard to get mentally organized—expending tons of energy on it—yet are frustrated that they get consistent feedback from important people (teachers when younger, parents, spouses, friends) that they aren't working hard enough. This confuses hard work with results—and the two are sometimes strikingly disconnected for those with ADHD. One person I know described what it feels like to have ADHD as “having the Library of Congress in your head, but with no card catalogue.” Think about how hard it would be to get organized—a Herculean task! Dealing with this sort of mind 24/7 can lead to a sense of helplessness—a sort of "I'm dancing as fast as I can so please don't ask more of me" feeling. Sometimes that feeling is voiced (and often met with a disbelieving, "Then why aren't you doing better if you're trying so hard?" from a frustrated spouse or parent.) Sometimes the "I’m dancing as fast as I can" feeling is not voiced but simply leads to feelings of overwhelm or paralysis.

You Mean I'm Not Lazy?: Unfortunately, ADHD symptoms are often attributed to the commonly comorbid anxiety and depression and therefore addressed only indirectly. Given the frequent unpleasant surprises that arise from their inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, they have good reason to feel anxious. Given their lifetime of struggles and failures, it’s no wonder they feel depressed. No amount of traditional therapy will help them feel good about the reality of their situation. It’s akin to trying to fill a bucket with a hole in the bottom.

Patient Comments - Adults with ADHD: Feelings of inadequacy would dominate my emotions as I felt stupid, lazy or not motivated, yet I knew at root I was none of those. I had a low frustration tolerance with myself and others around me.... All my life I've been a hard worker and although my school grades didn't show it, I was bright, achieved a college degree (took 6 years instead of 4 or 5) from a well-respected university, and have a determination that I don't see in many other people... When I finally could not take these unhelpful feelings of myself and the frustration any longer, I sought help (at around age 43) from a therapist and then a psychiatrist and received a diagnosis of ADHD (ADD). Along with a supportive doctor, family, and an empathetic and knowledgeable counselor, I have seen improvements in how I function in my life and know that I've achieved more in the past few years than I could have with an unrecognized diagnosis.
posted by jaguar at 5:23 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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