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Owners should have a say

Many other sites like this, such as Trip Advisor, allow the restaurant owner to respond to criticism as well a positive feedback. On our site, one of the people who posted had snarky remarks to make against our guests and the thread went off topic of food discussion. The posts also began 2 months after we opened and the comments made are still posted, although they are 2 years old! It is sites like this that can really harm small business owners, especially restaurants that now receive so many positive accolades and comments on various other sites. The catering more to those who have the ability to harm a business is a little ridiculous. Owners should be able to communicate through this site as well. I even had the "pleasure" of waiting on one of the people who posted comments. I asked at meal time the usual "are you enjoying everything", and when that person looks you in the eye and says everything is great, good, fine, but then posts negative comments, it is a truly coward thing to do. Give the restaurant a chance to rectify the situation at the time, instead of hiding behind a user name.

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  1. what's wrong with creating an account and replying like you just did? I have seen numerous restaurants post replies in threads about them.

    5 Replies
    1. re: TeRReT

      It seems as though if you make any comment in defense, it is removed, especially if you are a new poster. One reply by someone who was not accociated with the restaurant was removed because he/ she challenged another person regarding the amount of time the restaurant was open vs. when it should be acceptable to truly judge that restaurant.

      1. re: threebears

        Chowhound has no rules regarding how long a restaurant should be open before it's acceptable to post about it. We do, however, have a rule disallowing posters from telling other posters how they should be posting. Our rule is rate the chow, not the Chowhound.

        1. re: The Chowhound Team

          I just want to tell you I don't think this post is appropriate and I think you should take a completely different approach when you are having discussions with other users. (joke!! joke!! relax I'm just kidding)

          Anywho......I actually had a post removed because I gave full disclosure I was "friends" with the manager and it was a new restaurant so I wanted to give my friend my support and give it a try. I disclosed that and I wrote a full review of the good/bad/ and everything in between. I was told the post wasn't appropriate because I knew the manager. I respect that but I think it was a little silly.....since I was just being honest. If I wrote it was the best meal, service etc. and it didn't seem like I was being impartial I could see it. Hey it is what it is........it's a great site I enjoy contributing to so I respect and try to play by the rules!!

        2. re: threebears

          @threebears, Im sympathetic with your worry but the fact is on those other sites, the responses by restaurant owners are usually pretty pointless since every owner will express concern and say they bend over backwards to serve customers well. Also on those sites, there becomes a dynamic of restauranteurs responding to any critical post, which shifts the feel of the discussion. Those other sites aren't as good as screening for shills and competitor bashing.

          The online opinion of your restaurant will be determined by eaters and having a discussion dominated by eater opinion (with shills and haters screened to the best of the sites ability), is the best way for that opinion to be accurate and useful.

          Finally, most of us have a pretty good idea when a poster is being unreasonably cranky , especially when a restaurant is new and many of us will step in and defend new places.

        3. re: TeRReT

          Whats wrong with it is that CH doesn't allow it, and generally removes those posts.

        4. Chowhound is a diner-to-diner conversation. We do allow restaurant owners to participate under very limited circumstances (described in our Etiquette: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676... ), but for the most part, we ask that business owners take a step back from the conversation here. We're not an appropriate place for you to conduct customer service or promote your business.

          1. Threebears, this thread is not a place for you to talk about all the issues with individual posters that we wouldn't allow you to post about in the thread about your restaurant. Calling them out here is no more acceptable than doing it there.

            1. I personally hate it when restaurant owners post and I've actually stopped eating at a couple restaurants because of it. If you want direct dialogue with reviewers go to yelp and if you want direct dialogue with fans start a facebook page. People on Chowhound are pretty smart and know when to disregard a review/reviewer.

              1. Tripadvisor has owners posting gadzillion fake reviews of their own places and retaliating against honest reviewers with spurious lies and accusations. TA staff don't act against such posts even when proof is provided. CH polices for integrity relentlessly.

                If you are providing a good atmosphere and food, a couple of rough posts will NOT hurt your business. All you have to do is gain word of mouth and good reviews with a good dining experience over time.

                In fact, if you're still in business after two years and ALL your other reviews are flawless, one has to wonder why you're so worried about CH policy against restaurant owners posting either as themselves or as fake reviewers?

                1. It is not cowardly to avoid a confrontation with restaurant staff or the owner about an unsatisfactory meal or service. Why should I make an unhappy experience even worse for myself and my family or friends? And threebears's attitude is not just defensive but confrontational, with this talk of "coward" and "hiding." This kind of talk doesn't invite customers to "look you in the eye" and say what they really think.

                  Restaurant owners should respond to criticism, for sure. Not by arguing with the critics, but by improving their restaurant if they can so there won't be reasons for criticism.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: John Francis

                    <Restaurant owners should respond to criticism, for sure. Not by arguing with the critics, but by improving their restaurant if they can so there won't be reasons for criticism.>

                    Kind of makes you with that there was a way for the restaurant owners to "flag" or some way indicate that they have seen/are reading the post. That way Chowhounds can be aware that the owner is taking some interest and assume that they are listening to the critics. And then give the restaurant the option to private message posters. I know, wishful thinking.

                    1. re: viperlush

                      I don't want notification that restaurant owners are lurking, either. I just want to talk about food with other food lovers and diners.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I'd rather know that they are lurking than have them post. I see it as a compromise.

                        1. re: viperlush

                          Why should there be a compromise? This site isn't designed to meet their commercial needs. The only thing that can hurt them is lousy food and/or service.

                          1. re: mcf

                            The site already allows restaurants to post on threads. So it's a compromise becaus people like the OP wish to post more than what is allowed and there areChowhounds who want to hear from the restaurants. The restaurant can indicate that they are listening to the consumer while not violating the rules set by Chowhound.

                            I thought of this after reading a post on the Boston Board about a new restaurant. The owner responded basically stating that they are listening to critics and plan to make changes. The post was deleted because it violates the rule. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/858579

                            1. re: viperlush

                              They don't have to use CH to respond to their customer's issues. They can pay to advertise instead of doing it for free here in violation of rules they agree to abide by when signing up.

                    2. re: John Francis

                      That sort of insult, name calling and blaming reviewers instead improved service and food is very typical of Tripadvisor and the kind of crap they let proprietors say and do to members. It's why I no longer participate there. That and there are more phony reviews than real ones, IMO.

                    3. The CH Team already clarified why a restaurant owner isn't permitted to discuss rectifying a restaurant experience directly with CH's over this community.

                      Now, I'm not clear why the CH Team allowed this thread in the first place rather than just email the owner privately and delete the thread. Especially when threebears can't respond to comments made.

                      10 Replies
                        1. re: HillJ

                          Yup. Or at least keep the thread, post link to the rules, and lock it.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            It's an issue that comes up regularly, and we thought it might be worthwhile to let people talk about it a bit on Site Talk. Explaining it to one user by email is useful, but we're hoping some public discussion will help the users who email us to say 'I saw you took the owner's post down' or who post about those sorts of things, to understand what's happening.

                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                              Understood.

                              Except :) it was an owner who asked the question, not a CH. Then, placing the owner in a position he/she could not defend as this discussion continued.

                              In the cases where you have taken an owner's post down the rules of CH was all you needed to point to.

                              While owners may not give opinions or replies here, restaurant owners make it possible for these local Boards rich with examples and give all of us the opportunity to discuss our experiences.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                "Except :) it was an owner who asked the question, not a CH. Then, placing the owner in a position he/she could not defend as this discussion continued."

                                I think, based on what the CH Team wrote above -

                                "...but we're hoping some public discussion will help the users who email us to say 'I saw you took the owner's post down' or who post about those sorts of things, to understand what's happening."

                                - that the issue is usually CH posters who write or wonder why restaurant owners aren't allowed to respond with "their side of the story" on any of the boards.

                                And, as far as "...placing the owner in a position he/she could not defend as this discussion continued."
                                - that was the issue here, right from the get go when threebears tried to circumvent the CH site rules. Whether they try and get their "story" out on the local or regional board where the critical posts were put up, or here on Site, it's not going to happen. And now more posters know why.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Full circle moment with your stamp of approval for good measure, Servorg.
                                  The reason I wrote my original comment is because I didn't understand (which I stated) why the CHT decided to leave the OP rather than remove it and connect with the owner privately. That was answered by CHT for me. I still had an opinion because the rules about such things are answered really well for CH's already. The owners around here get this type of reply and aren't permitted to take it any further.

                                  Why frustrate owners? My second point.

                                  But your MMV. Cool.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    "The owners around here get this type of reply and aren't permitted to take it any further.

                                    Why frustrate owners?"

                                    For the very same reason they can't reply to criticism on the local/regional boards...because they end up trying to turn it into "spin" control in order undo or mitigate what they see as unwarranted negative posts.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      If that's the case, handle those posts offline....irregarless of what Boards these small issues arise. Spins a two way street and no one likes to see it. Avoid.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Then the "teachable" moment that the CH Team spoke of above for those hounds who don't know why the restaurant owner/management don't get to respond here to board criticism is missed by the much "wider" audience (that gets to see it here, or get linked to it by one of the veteran hounds when the question inevitably pops up again).

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Or by the Sticky posts that appear...or the various postings listed within the red banner footer on every page of this site.

                                          I guess if the owner had stepped into a thread about his restaurant I could see the teachable moment (but more times than not those threads wind up deleted) but the owner created a Site Talk OP for the PTB essentially. And the teachable moment came after fellow CH's began to respond. In this case, I feel for the owner. All the teachable moments in the world won't snag newcomers arriving 24/7. But, I see the point you're making and understand why the CHT made it. I just don't see the benefit.