Saturday, October 22, 2016

Behold the power of online reviews

Last week I got an unexpected email from a website that allows the average person to rate local businesses and tell about their own personal experience. “We miss you,” the email claimed. They missed me? That must mean they value my very humble (ahem) opinion. Since I couldn’t recall what I had reviewed, I decided to sign on to my account and view my history. Well, first I had to request a password reset because seriously - who saves passwords to stuff like this?

It turns out I had written four reviews. The most recent one was about a hair stylist who rescued me from a bad perm. My review made her sound like a miracle worker, and the day I walked in whimpering about my hair, she was. Another review was about a pleasant experience at a local pizza place it had taken us 15 years to discover (it was a mile from our house). Spouse and I were so taken with this place that I volunteered to post their menu on their social media page, and that was without even trying to get a free pizza out of the deal.

Another detailed a scary situation that I wasn’t directly involved with, except as a panicky parent waiting to hear that her kid was safe. First Born and The Groom experienced had car problems in a remote area, and I wanted to give credit to the wonderful mechanic and his caring wife who helped get them back on the road.

Finally, there was my lengthy review of a new Portland restaurant with good food and bad customer service. Maybe they were going through growing pains - it was from a couple of years ago and I’ve been back to the place a couple of times with no issue, proving that I probably should have given them a second shot before reviewing them. Of course, this meant I had to update it with a kinder tone.

That’s the thing with these websites that encourage you to voice your opinion about a local business. You have the opportunity to tell others how great your experience was, or possibly skewer someone with negative feedback. It’s not my job to give these websites free advertising, so I won’t mention their names. I’ll just refer to them in some indirect way. For instance, I’ve used a site that will advise you about trips. Seriously, that could be any website.

Some reviews can be confusing, especially if you read several of them regarding the same business. The stars that are used to rate these places can also be deceiving. What if nine people stayed at a hotel that had great service, excellent food and was in a perfect location, but one person stayed when the front desk was short-handed, or someone didn’t fill the decaf coffee urn quickly enough, or there was road construction on the same side as their room? Suddenly the stars plummet and make you question whether you’re willing to pay for a five-star hotel that only got four stars according to its clientele. Not that Spouse and I make a habit of staying in five-star hotels… we’re more like a step up from the places that forget to leave the light on for us.

I don’t like to rate hotels on these websites. I have this fear that if I say anything negative, my name will somehow be noted – maybe my photo posted above the front desk - leaving me open to the scorn of the establishment I’ve rated... and I've gotten used to hot water and clean towels, so...

But since this particular website asked, I guess I’ll go rate something that I was happy with. I wouldn’t want to make anyone yelp over a negative review.

2 comments:

  1. Love this post - we need to be thoughtful when we choose to create a review, and maintain a healthy skepticism when reading reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post - we need to be thoughtful when we choose to create a review, and maintain a healthy skepticism when reading reviews.

    ReplyDelete