How not to respond to negative feedback

We’ve all been there: that moment when you see the red dot in the pristine line of green, reading the utterly unreasonable (and probably untrue) comment, furiously wondering if they know just what they’ve done… teeth grinding, reaching for the keyboard to respond and let the world know just what an idiot that buyer is…

And we all know we shouldn’t, right? I don’t need to tell you, step away from the keyboard, get off the net, go away from temptation for a while and preferably sleep on it. But I probably do need to pass on that advice to one hotellier, who last week threw a guest out of his hotel on suspicion of having written a bad review on TripAdvisor. The man and his partner were told to leave 2 days into a 3 day stay, by the manager, who then called the police (but didn’t refund any of their money).

I was so stunned by this story, I went to find the reviews on TripAdvisor. And what entertaining reading they make. The owner flat-out denies that many of the reviewers even visited the hotel. Others, he says, were asked to leave because of their “bad behaviour”.

It’s long been said that sellers’ responses to negative feedback are much more telling than the feedback itself. And that’s as true off eBay as on it. It’s hard, seeing your business slated in public; but responding to it with outright denial can never be the way to handle it. If it’s one bad reviewer, you can ignore it; several, and you’ve got a problem you need to address. But what if it looks like that? A friend and I were discussing what we’d do if our hotel had reviews like that – there are times when you need to cut your losses, and get out of the business because it’s obviously not what you were born to do.

photo credit: Henry Brett

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Was the hotel in Torquay?

JD • 29th September 2010 •

No, Blackpool... Basil must have started up a chain.

Sue Bailey • 29th September 2010 •

I would change the name of the hotel if I was him!

John • 29th September 2010 •

So would I, John - but unless he takes some of the criticism on board too, it'd be a waste of time.

Sue Bailey • 29th September 2010 •

These people never do - they don't understand the power of the Internet.

John • 29th September 2010 •

Ooops! I was checking out hotels myself last week on Trip Advisor and came across a response from a hotel which really didn't do them any favours either - a real blow by blow response to the points raised by the reviewer, the response being about 10 times longer than the review! I didn't even bother reading the whole of the response, but suffice to say that was one hotel crossed off my list - and yet the review that it was responding to wouldn't have put me off on its own.

Gill • 29th September 2010 •

To be fair to the hotel owner the first review is clearly fake: 'Blackpool is beautiful. The dining is spot on. I will go back, but will be staying elsewhere.' Someones got to be having a laugh with that one.

radams • 30th September 2010 •

I don't respond to any negatives as I never look at my feedback.

del • 30th September 2010 •

That's been my policy for a long time. Unless the percentage changes I'm unaware of any bad feedback. I did once look back a few years and noticed I got a negative from someone who left one claiming I never respond to emails. When I looked at my records I saw that they never emailed me until a few minutes after they posted the feedback. When they did contact me I was asked to solve a problem with the device I sold them and after a few days of back and forth it was discovered they never plugged it in because they didn't have the appropriate cable. I ended up selling them a cable so they could use it. Now if I'd have checked my feedback that transaction would have gone completely differently (of course my reputation would have still be damaged all the same).

ebuyerfb • 30th September 2010 •

I can't see why people don't email sellers first to resolve any issues instead of leaving negative feedback first, then emailing them second. Some people who shop on eBay are a little dense. Anyway if you had booked a hotel and the payment had been accepted, you should have some sort of consumer rights, like with everything else shouldn't you? Maybe the hotelier was the diff you left me a negative.

Warren • 1st October 2010 •

Unfortuneatly we live in an ebay world where the bottom percentile of the population do manage to enter our lives, whereas in normal interactions, they would not!

John Pemberton • 2nd October 2010 •

From ebays' point (not hotels), buyers are still hiding behind + feedback & comments, but marking DSRs in the opposite direction. We seem to have had lots of untold (ie; buyers does not contact us) problems in the middle of this year with for whatever reason buyers marking low DSRs on dispatch, even though orders are being sent within the dispatch time stated in listings. Just done a DSR report. & low & behold 3x 2's on 1, ID in a space of 29th-30th September, so off we go to look at the feedback for that period & there is only 4 feedbacks received. See; fast delivery, and just what I wanted,. Excellent product and fast dispatch. Will definitely use again (by 2, same buyer). todo correcto (internationa buyer)

Gerry007 • 3rd October 2010 •

Be careful with that report. Many people don't realize that it is the time of listing or the time of the transaction (you pick) not the time of feedback left.

ebuyerfb • 3rd October 2010 •

I understand what you are saying... All our reports are run on date range settings. We've run reports Monthly & update them on a weekly basis, ie; Run a report for 1 week & then a second report , say for 2 weeks, that includes the 1st week. That way we can tell when the feedback comments are going wrong. We then run one at the end of each month, for the previous month. One of our Id's sell racks for CD's, just an hour ago, we've received 2 nuetrals from the same buyer, NO contact with us since dispatch & the comment is; 'not a good fit cds fall out' What's the problem, who knows, not us & the other 60 odd sales have no other complaints!!!.... I am just getting really fed up with ebay buyers who cannot be bothered to contact us, but just air their problems in feedback. As for ebay helping sort things out.....that is becoming non existent. We've emailed asking for explaination to feedback & I'll bet we get no reponse.

Gerry007 • 4th October 2010 •

The vast majority of buyers are completely reasonable and the vast majority of feedback comments are great. With DSRs, however, it just requires 1 in 770 to be ignorant, capricious or malicious for a seller to lose TRS status. These buyers are usually obvious after you deal with them: threatening emails; no attempt to sort out any issues; silence and lack of response etc. We ban them (and will happily share our banned list with other sellers). This helps a little, but what we need as sellers is the ability to pre-select out the grumpy ones. I can stop buyers with two UPI strikes, those in different countries, but not those who habitually leave terrible feedback or DSRs. If eBay are serious about protecting sellers from anonymous feedback then they need to give us the option to not deal with the rogue buyers as much as dealing with the rogue sellers.

David Brackin • 3rd October 2010 •

Looks as though theres a worse hotel in Blackpool

dave • 3rd October 2010 •

The POWER of the internet! Do you believe everything that you read in the papers? Trust me they (the papers) have a much better code than those who post on the internet. You can only have cred if you have actually been there. And no, I'm not going to book it now. Like I said, the POWER of the internet.

JD • 4th October 2010 •