Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trip Advisor News

In the latest Trip Advisor report, I responded to this recent lukewarm review by a couple visiting the area from Tennessee:

 " My husband and I went with high expectations, but were fairly disappointed. We waited awhile for a table, because the owner/hostess was chatting at the bar & none of the waitresses even acknowledged us standing there. However, we later learned the hostess had waved to acknowledge us & we didn't see. That's fine. The food was fantastic (definitely try the "Angels on Horseback"), but the service left a lot to be desired. We waited ages for water refills while the waitress chatted with the table next to us, and received little attention from her. At the end of the meal, we were so disappointed with the service, especially given the attention the next table received, that we actually left a note on the receipt.

As we got to our car, the owner came out to address the situation. I expected an apology, and perhaps an attempt to make things right, but was somewhat disappointed with the way she handled our complaint. Each concern we raised was met with, "I'm sorry you felt that way," as opposed to a direct apology. We learned from her that the table next to us was 'the judge'- which is fine, but as I paid the same prices for my meal, I expected the same level of service. She also kept defending the waitress, which we did not appreciate, as she was clearly in the wrong. And, as I said, there was no attempt to rectify the situation; she merely made excuses for each complaint."

 My response on the TA site,  which personally I think was quite rational, for a change:

"This very nice young couple felt let-down after their BT experience, and I was truly sorry about that.  We talked about it at length - and yes, I did chase them down out in the parking lot, after reading what they wrote - and it is true the server more than likely did give the adjoining table more attention than this pair of diners felt was "fair".

It is a fact of restaurant life, especially in a small town like ours, that regular customers sometimes get more attention than an unknown party.  We always strive to treat everyone equally - after all, you never know who might become your next "regular" - but when you see a guest every week, and perhaps you know their kids and the dog, not to mention how they want their steak done and that they want double lemon in their ice tea, you just might spend a bit more time with them.  This is part of the reason we love being in a small town with lots of regular customers, who come in all year long, sometimes on a tri-weekly basis!    Their support is the big reason we are still open, after five years in Chestertown, and I would guess that most other restaurant owners would say the exact same thing.

I could not respond to this "review" in a more timely fashion, because TripAdvisor suddenly made me jump through hoops to register myself as the owner of the business.  They actually wanted me to send a credit card number, including the security code, to prove I had the right to respond to comments about our business.  I ended up taking the longer route - sending them a pay stub...  The fact that I have to prove who I am to defend my business, while the "reviewer" can write anything they want, and have it published with no reality check - be they a competitor with an axe to grind, an angry ex-employee, or an honestly disgruntled guest with a legitimate beef - is one reason why I never use TripAdvisor as a tool for travel."

Did TA publish it?  No:

"Dear Owner,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a management response on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, we cannot publish your response because it does not meet our posting guidelines.

We do not post management responses directed to TripAdvisor staff or commenting about TripAdvisor policies.

You are welcome to edit and resubmit your management response at any time through the management response form. For further information on our management response guidelines, please visit:

Please let us know if you have further concerns. We value your contributions and look forward to receiving your edited and resubmitted response.

Best Regards,

TripAdvisor Support Team"

Fair enough.  I didn't really entertain any idea that they would, but I am going to resubmit.  If I leave out the TA word, maybe the robo-reader will let it pass.  I'll keep you posted.  

April 6th Update:
Even replacing the name TripAdvisor with a generic term caused my response to bounce.  I have given up.  And frankly, seeing as pretty much No One ever responds to these reviews, I probably shouldn't bother either. 

 I'm just such a dog with a bone...

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