“I would never recommend this shop to anyone.”

By · Filed in Reputation Management

I came across this review last week (I’ve changed all the names and shortened it (yes, really!) plus corrected some of the typos). You don’t need to read it all, just get the gist of it:

“When I first went into this shop they seemed lovely and helpful. I fell in love with one of the dresses so I paid my maximum budget for it and was measured and given a receipt stating I’d paid in full. They even game me a free fur bolero as a gift. I was delighted. 6 months later I called them for the first time to ask where the dress was as they had said it would be here by then. The lady on the phone seemed rather abrupt by my enquiry and said “oh don’t worry it will be here before your wedding day” this didn’t fill me with confidence. I was promised a call back. This return call never happened so 3 weeks later I called again really worried as I only had 3-4 weeks for the dress to arrive. Once again I was told they’d call me back. My mother in law then called the shop as I was very worried about the whole situation and so was she and my partner. For some reason the shop took great offense in my mother in law calling to ask when they thought it would be in. They became very abrupt and stern with her but they reassured her. 45 minutes later I received a phone call which was very abrupt and rude stating my dress would be in in 5 days and I now owed them more money? How come? Oh it’s because we forgot to charge you a surcharge. I didn’t understand why. I then had a call from my mother in law 2 days later saying the shop had called and said my dress was in and would she pay the money over the phone. I was not pleased about this as firstly they should be calling me to tell me my dress has arrived and secondly they shouldn’t be asking my mother in law for money. I then had a message saying I had to pay not only the charge but more VAT on top. So concerned by the way the shop was beginning to act I called consumer direct to find out my rights as a bridal wear buyer. I then found out that the shop was in breach of contract and could not charge me more money for an item I had already paid for in full. So I called the shop to discuss this charge and the lady ‘Sharon’ became very aggressive and rude and said I wouldn’t get my dress unless I gave them more money. I also asked why she had called my mother in law regarding my dress and asking her for more money to which she stated “well you know I asked her seeing as she’s taken over your whole wedding yeah” I said that this was a very unprofessional way to talk to the customer she became sarcastic in tone and if I had a problem come to the shop and sort it. My partner then called and asked if we could see the manager in 3 days as we had a few concerns. She said yes no problem he will be here. So we thought that was the end of that until my partner had a phone call from the manager a Mr Smith he began shouting at my partner was aggressive rude and offensive and stated he didn’t give a toss if I was disabled and couldn’t get straight in their for a fitting. And if I didn’t do the fitting within 3 days I wouldn’t get my dress at all. At this my partner lost his temper with the aggression from the manager and said he would be leaving work now to collect it. The manager then called my mother in law shouting down the phone in a threatening tone and that I needed to go to the shop an get fitted straight away as their seamstress only worked 1.5 hours a week and had others to see. When he was told I couldn’t just get up and get there because of my health deterioration the last few months and that I needed help which means prior booking etc he stated my disability was basically not his problem an if I could manage to make it to the shop 7 months ago I can do it again. We were all utterly disgusted by his tone and attitude and just wanted to get my dress and have no more to do with the shop. We went the day after as my partner’s boss allowed him to leave early due to this crisis. On arrival my partner was not allowed in the shop. We sat down with the 2 shop staff Sharon and Jane (mangers wife) but Mr. Smith failed to show up. Jane stated the charge was a new thing and they had only just found out. I pointed out how can they charge me for a new charge after 7 months. Then they contradicted themselves and said it was an error from 7 months ago. I become very upset with the whole thing as they kept contradicting everything they said and lied about phone calls made by them. I refused to pay more money and told them I had spoken to consumer direct. After I told them this they dropped the matter and said they would do it out of good will but then confiscated my fur bolero. They brought out my dress to show us but when I looked at it I was gobsmacked as they had ordered a dress nearly 4 sizes too big for me! They tried to hand it to me in a clear plastic bag. We had to ask them for a black bag or bag to buy to cover it the said they had nothing to give me we had to ask for something as it was poorly covered so they gave us a white dusty dirty cloth to hide It from my partner. I now have to pay £150 to have a dress taken in 3-4 sizes by a seamstress we found. I’m just so glad I got my dress and do not need to deal with them ever again. They seemed so lovely at first but in the end they became nasty aggressive rude offensive and utterly unprofessional. I would never recommend this shop to anyone. Total nervous wreck after all the stress they have caused and created!!”

It doesn’t read too well does it?

But, bizarrely enough, it gets worse!

Here’s the owner’s reply (again shortened and disguised but I have not attempted to correct the typos):

“I am totally disgusted by the above fictitious comments the cost of the outsize gown for this lady would have been the manufacterers cost of £30 for over size 22 which all shops would offer.. SHE WAS NOT ASKED TO PAY THIS AS WE CONTACTED THE MANUFACTUER AND SHE WAS TOLD SHE DID NOT HAVE TO PAY
in relation to a bag she would not pay £10.00 and as she came into shop totally unanounced. her and her miother asked to try the gown on which Sharon did do and she loved the gown it only needed a little adjustment she was asked to use our seamstress but our seamstress does not work after 7pm which Claire stated her partner was her carer and could only come in at that time. we then stated could a friend bring you.. she said she would let us know.. SHE DID NOT..
the reason her partner was asked not to enter the shop that day as he used obscene filthy language on the phone to us as did Claire use very angry tones many times. which HER MOTHER IN LAW TO BE APOLOGIZED FOR and her behavior
we went out of our way for Claire for months no one ever shouted at her mother in law.. Sharon was contacted by Claire’s mother in law then Claire screamed at us we had many phone calls from this lady but we could not please her. she always brought the disability card into play.. we are sorry she had a bad back.. through accident.. but if we were that bad Claire and you felt Sharon was that bad.. why did you thank her when she tried the gown on you…
we hope you have a good life now you are married Claire.
and consumer direct did not tell us to drop the matter. in fact Claire also stated she went to cardiff bridal centre. and she is well aware I phone the manufacturer .. and they wish to take things up with her also. for defamitory remarks…
we as many of our customers know.. they can have a bag or they can bring a duvet cover to place over the dress. but why she did not do either amazes me..
Her partner and his use of language and Claire’s many abusive phone calls we had to endure for a long time no one would put up with that in any walk of life.
her dress could have been fitted perfectly for around £45 pounds which she would not pay she said she had a friend who had a bridal shop in the town. so what could any one do. and why it cost so much I will never know if she paid £150.00 that was very much o very much over the top..
what Claire had was a cream long cloth dress bag we placed many safety pins into it and said we can offer you this free if that is ok.. and she accepted. once again she could have paid for a Bridal bag for £10. or brought a duvet cover which we tell lots of brides.

I have no idea where the facts lie with this story. However, I do know:

  1. The story is out there now and some of this business’s customers and prospects will read it
  2. Some of these readers will act on what they read to the detriment of the business

It was great to see that the owner responded to the review. However, does his response help his business? Would you now use this business?

As a contrast here’s another actual review and owner’s response for a different business :

“Was somewhat disappointed with the attitude that he portrayed with my wedding entourage and as well there were several complaints about his courtesy towards other professionals working with us. Not impressed. Hopefully his work pulls through and his character does not transcend into making the pictures look bad. I will only recommend R J Hidson if you are not looking for someone that will go with traditional; aspects and values.”

“Hello Joy, I apologise if my attitude came across the wrong way at Joel and Esmerelda’s wedding. Though having gone through the photos several times I can assure you that it was a very happy occasion… There were over thirty people in the wedding party, and getting them to do things was a challenge. Possibly because of the size of the group. During the shoot there were people (who were not in the wedding party) stepping into the frame of my shots, and, unfortunately, to capture moments I had to act fast. Maybe I was too assertive with these people and they complained about that… However, going forward I’ll certainly keep in mind the experience I had on that day and learn what I can from it… Thank you for your feedback. I personally look forward to showing Joel and Esmerelda their pictures. Kindly, RJ Hidson.”

Wasn’t that better?

One person even responded to RJ Hidson’s reply to say “I feel like I know him. And I like him”. That’s really turning a negative into a positive!

So, what should you do if you find a negative review about your business?

  1. Remain calm! There may be anger and emotion in the review. Do NOT immediately respond. Instead, read it through carefully and check out your facts and then plan how best to reply.
  2. Don’t ignore it! It won’t go away and ignoring gives the impression that you don’t care.
  3. Apologise! Whether the facts of the matter are right or wrong, something has left this reviewer with a low opinion of you or your business. Apologise for allowing them to feel this way and for any actual mistakes you might have made.
  4. Don’t pass the buck! Don’t argue with the reviewer or say it was theirs or somebody else’s fault. Your goal must be to deflate the problem, not inflate it.
  5. Put right any fault! If you can, rectify the problem (for free) or refund some (or all) of the customers money or offer a voucher for future work etc. Go out of your way to demonstrate that you really care enough about this to go out of your way to attempt to put it right. By doing so, you’ll build customer trust and loyalty.
  6. Remember your audience! There is a small probability that this reviewer will return to read your reply. There is a very high probability that other people will read it. So, although you are replying to one comment, always have in mind how future prospects will read it.
  7. Promise to improve! Learn from the review and promise (in your reply) to apply what you learn to do an even better job for the next person. We’re all human and we all make mistookes (oops ?) from time to time. People will accept and respond well to that if you are also promising to learn and improve from the incident. Prospects want to hear that they are unlikely to experience the problem this reviewer had if they use your products or services. They might not be so sure about whether they will get the same promise from your competition.
  8. Be professional! It doesn’t matter how unprofessional the reviewer was. Rise above it. Reply clearly and coherently with proper grammar and spelling. Demonstrate that your business is truly professional in all that it does.
  9. Say thanks! Thank the reviewer for posting the review. If there is a genuine problem here then you now know about it and can do something about it. Also, it can look strange if all your reviews are five stars, the occasional negative review with your response to it can reinforce the positive statement in the majority of your reviews. So it genuinely is of value to you to have (occasional) negative reviews.
  10. Ask for positive reviews! Whether you use our Social Accelerator cards or you use some other method, ask your happy customers for positive reviews to make sure that the overall message to people researching you is a positive one.

By taking these steps you can convert an unpleasant negative review into a positive message about your business. Look out for negative reviews and use the above to turn negatives into positives.

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