A recent Los Angeles Times business column looked at a new company called ReviewerCard that issues IDs to “prolific online reviewers” to presumably help them get better service from hotels and restaurants.
According to the
snake-oil salesman “entrepreneur” behind this venture, people who “post lots of reviews on websites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor don’t get enough respect from the businesses they write about.”
A legitimate reviewer does not ask for respect. They assume it will be given to them because they are a customer. And if it isn’t, that will be reflected in the review they write.
A legitimate reviewer will not demand good service – they will expect it. And if it is lacking, this too will be captured in their review.
And a legitimate reviewer will not announce their presence by waving a card and demand outstanding service or free upgrades. That’s not what reviewers do. It’s what assholes do.
I always thought that the point of a good review is to remain anonymous so you DON’T get preferential treatment. That way, you can write a review that accurately reflects the experience that every customer will get.
What the ReviewCard offers, in my opinion, is the opportunity for subtle blackmail. By waiving this card in a staff member’s face, you’re implicitly saying “Give me preferential service or I will write a nasty review.” That is not how this review thing works.
There are establishments that offer abysmal service and lousy food, but things have a way of pushing them out of business. Poor word of mouth, non-repeat customers and legitimate reviews usually do the trick. The world doesn’t need any card-waiving superheroes to save us from them.
I’m not bashing sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, nor am I minimizing the contribution of online reviewers – I’ve posted several online reviews myself. I think online reviews, for the most part, allow people to share their experiences and provide details that you may not find elsewhere. I have many friends and acquaintances on these websites, whose tastes and values I share, and I frequently read their reviews for recommendations. Online reviews also level the playing field – it helps small, “mom and pop”-type restaurants get some publicity and allows them to flourish in a highly competitive market.
Like everything on the Internet, it can be abused, but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
When I write a review, I try to provide value to others. I’m not a food blogger or professional critic by any means, just a consumer who believes that when a restaurant or hotel delivers good, reliable service that makes me want to return, praise is due. I also want to provide information about the venue that could help others make an informed decision. I never post anonymously and try to give as much personal information as I can in my website profiles. I do all of this because it is what I would like to see when I look for a place to eat or stay.
If I am critical, I try to be fair and provide context. Well, I hope I’m fair – judge for yourself. I also treat staff with respect — I worked in retail for many years, so I know what it’s like to deal with the public. (It can be fucking exhausting and dehumanizing.)
Waving a card for better service isn’t going to help the next person who visits the establishment. It just a selfish attempt to get free products and services. And it gives legitimate reviewers a bad name.
I see this as a pathetic way for some people to feel important. Respect should never be demanded, and I hope that anyone who uses this card doesn’t get any.