On Christmas Eve I was enjoying the relative calmness brought on by the presence of a 3 year old surrounded by gift-wrapped marvels, casually refreshing twitter to escape the “NO, DON’T TOUCH THAT!” when I happened across a twitter interaction between Belfast Café/Bar Remedy. I then sat glued to my phone watching as the situation unraveled…it was like watching a car crash, there should be a button that lurkers can press on twitter that erects digital crash screens around an interaction to stop passersby ogling the carnage. There isn’t. I checked.
It began with a customer expressing their dissatisfaction
Had breakfast in @RemedyBelfast this morning with my family, it was awful and overpriced. None of us will be back.
Now, I’ve had similar expressions of disdain in the past about businesses I’ve worked for, and I’m firmly in the category of “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” and in fact to try to do so, is madness. Whoever was in charge of Remedy’s twitter account that day though, had no such qualms. Did they apologise? Did they ask what the issue was? Did they perhaps ignore it? Did they heck.
Remedy took the bait. Once more, I’ve been in this situation before, a completely fabricated Trip Advisor review elicited a response from me that led to other customers suggesting that if there is ever a true a cyber war, I should be in charge of the press releases. It happens, when you work in a fast paced environment like a cafe on christmas eve morning in the centre of town, you are highly strung; you are flat out and the last thing you want is ingratitude, you don’t even necessarily want gratitude, you don’t have time to acknowledge it, stick 50p in the tip jar and we’ll call it quits. But there are ways to deal with it then there are ways to deal with it.
Over the course of the next couple of hours, the tit for tat back and forth involved other users wading into the
discussion battle. There is a chain of thought suggesting that the customer is always right…I know of this only because I’ve seen it hanging on motivational posters in some staff rooms…if not for these posters I would be completely unaware of the concept, because it is wrong. The customer is frequently oh-so-very-wrong. Not that being wrong is necessarily a bad thing…but just assuming you are right because you are on that side of the counter and I’m on this side isn’t just flawed, it’s farcical. Remedy were accused of being “awful” and “overpriced”…..both of these are completely subjective. You can say “we find our customers consider us good value for money” or “well unfortunately the nature of our business means our pricing structure is as it is, we would love to sell you wonderful food for pennies but unfortunately we aren’t there quite yet”…you CANNOT SAY
“Hey moron, for your friend it was more about getting discount . every other table loved theirs. #cheapskate”
“The prices are published online and in house. Nobody is forcing you to pay them. #cheapskate #greasyspoonmerchant”
“You know it’s cheaper to cook at home, right?”
“You may have an elevated ego but you are a #cheapskate. Enjoy your Iceland Turkey dinner tomorrow”
Obviously the person responsibly for these tweets was having a terrible time, but
the first rule of twitter the second rule of twitter is don’t tweet angry. (the first rule is to tell all your friends that facebook is over-rated, twitter is the new facebook)
The deluge and abuse continued…
“Get a life you twat”
“You really are a bellend with your 20 followers. ugly too”
“A malicious little man. Grow balls and FO”(fuck off…)
“Please FO back to where you came from”
“Complete tramp. Now please just f@#k off to back under your stone”
“Are you on glue?”
Some of these weren’t even directed at the original complainer, just bystanders who waded in to comment…
I sympathise with Remedy, when someone posts a criticism you believe to be unfair on social media it can hurt, when you put in the hours and the stress builds up, to have someone so publicly knock your efforts can be demeaning…And then seeing the “likes” or “favourites” or “retweets” or “shares” starting to build, with each 1 knowing that many many more people have now seen what you deem to be an unreasonable complaint and perhaps will avoid your business…but to have a complete meltdown in such a public forum goes against everything ANY BUSINESS should know. I don’t know who was tweeting on behalf of Remedy, i suspect it was the manager or the owner, there is a certain ownership of the business claimed in some of the mannerisms…whoever it was has absolutely no business being in charge of communicating a businesses message to the wider public.
I recently went to a local bar/restaurant for lunch and the food was absolutely abysmal, I’ve never been served worse, the same went for the rest of the table…I called the manager over, explained the problem, they tried to fix it, to be honest, it was still terrible. I sent them a message afterwards to express my complaint further, they replied and offered for us to come back and dine with no charge, I’ve no interest in going because it was THAT bad, but I wish the business no ill will, they had a bad day, lost lots of custom and of course money, and that’s their punishment. Hospitality is a results driven business, as are most I suppose, but in hospitality the results are often immediate and in front of your eyes…I could have slammed that business on social media and perhaps a few dozen of my followers would avoid it until they forgot about my account, but what is gained? The business didn’t sit down in a meeting room after I ordered and come up with ways to screw me over…they just got it wrong. Remedy however got it wrong deliberately, I have no doubt whatsoever that at some point during the tweets, whoever was posting realised they had crossed a line, they began self-censoring…”F@*k”…”FO”…by that point the ship had sailed. If that person had a personal twitter account, replying from that would have been something to save the business face, but instead I and many many other local diners will think twice before going to Remedy. Not because I believe the original complaint, because as I said, quality and price are subjective, and I’ve heard good things before…but if I go to Remedy and I’m not happy, is this the kind of response I’ll be faced with?
I’d rather go to a #greasyspoon although that doesn’t make me a #cheapskate it makes me a #savvycustomer.