TripAdvisor has long been a place where customers can voice their opinions-both good and bad.
But it’s not just customers making their voices heard. Three Devon businesses-who have received both positive and negative reviews- explain why they choose to respond to their critics on the consumer website.
The Ley Arms, Kenn
Karen, is the landlady at The Ley Arms pub. She believes people don’t always understand the personal impact of their comments.
She said:”Generally, we appreciate feedback good or bad-we’re all really passionate about what we do. I don’t think people realise it can be hurtful.
“We choose to sometimes [comment] if we feel that it is grossly wrong. Sometimes we wish somebody had said at the time. Sometimes things are valid.”
She added:”If it’s a negative comment, we ask them to contact us directly, but generally, we hear no more.”
Karen said that they also try to thank people that leave positive comments and would prefer people to let them know there’s a problem in person.
One customer who visited the Ley Arms in Exeter claimed the staff were ‘unprofessional’ and the manager was ‘unpleasant’.
Their TripAdvisor review reads: “There were some small errors with the food which could have very easily rectified. The floor staff to be fair were trying their best. Obviously not enough of them.
“People were getting starters at the same time as their main course, not a great idea with hot meals. Incorrect dishes because someone didn’t read the list correctly, a list that was read to us prior to serving. All these things we could have accepted without complaint as long as steps were taken to correct it.
“Then the very unprofessional, unpleasant manageress appeared, not prepared to listen to the 8 people on our table or the people from another table we didn’t know, all telling her she had it wrong. Shouting in the centre of the restaurant is not the way to behave and she really should learn some manners. In way of letting her know that in any public service job here needs to be sensible reason, 23 people will never return to this place and she is putting people jobs a risk by behaving in such a manner. Maybe she should find a different job. An evening spoilt for all.”
The manager was quick to respond to the negative review in a short and sweet message to the customer.
It read:”The only truth in your review is that you will not returning.”
Pepper Shack, Brixham
John, owner of Pepper Shack, Brixham, takes a more light-hearted view of his critics. In fact, he actively encourages people to read any moans and groans.
He said:”We say to people if they want a bit of fun, look at our terribles.
“It’s an open forum-just as our customers have their say we do too.”
John said he tries to respond to every single comment that he receives and said:”We try to get everything right.”
He also pointed out that Pepper Shack state on their menu that if customers encounter any issues during their visit, they should let staff know.
One review reads: “Me and my family visited yesterday and it wasn’t what we expected as are family love this type of food but this place has let down the Caribbean food down as it’s was absolutely disgusting and vile wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.”
Despite the review being short and sweet, the manager of the restaurant responded to the customer after they claimed the goat in their curry wasn’t actually goat.
The response said: “I can only guess this is down to your refusal to believe that the goat was actually goat … well … it was, it is and always will be. Curried goat is easily our most popular dish, the meat is plentiful in supply from East Devon and highly praised here on Tripadvisor.
“Goat is such a distinctive meat (note the stranded texture and pinkish colour it retains when cooked) that you really can’t dress up anything else to stand in … and whyever would we try? Mutton is quite different … and more expensive. As I recall, you couldn’t even be persuaded by the chef you have in the family … who assured me that everything was fine.
“‘Very disappointing’ … ‘vile and disgusting’. .. and let me add … Vindictive. Sometimes, you need to let things go …”
The Bronx, Teignmouth & Dr Inks Curiosities, Exeter
Patrick Fogarty who runs Bronx restaurant in Teignmouth and Dr Inks Curiosities in Exeter, has also had his say.
He said:”For me, we only take the negative reviews from customers to task when they lie, bully or intimidate staff.
“Every business drops the ball at times and we always take constructive criticism but ask customers to talk to us directly where possible.
“That said when the keyboard warriors strike, I like to take their review and our response and post it on our all our social media in essence owning the review and turning a negative into a positive.”
One customer said that the Teignmouth restaurant is ‘unorganised’ and the ‘staff didn’t have a clue’.
The review reads: “After first being told I had not booked a table. We were shown to a high table surrounded by stools for us to eat with my two year old son that when I booked the table I requested a high chair and was told what time we could be accommodated.
“We then sit at the new table and wait a good ten mins for the high chair to arrive and it didn’t.
We spoke to another member of staff and it was brought out straight away.
“Waited another five mins and water was brought to the table and shortly after we ordered drinks and hoped things were on the up. They weren’t!
“In short at the end the waitress offered free deserts that we declined and then offered to waive the service charge (how very kind!)
“Won’t return and to be honest if the service and food was nice I probably still wouldn’t return as you sit so close to other people the volume of the conversations gets a bit much after a hour.”
Following the review, the owner Patrick Fogarty took to the website to respond
Patrick even went as far to check his CCTV to see if the review was true.
His response reads: “Dear Robc. Thank you for your completely factual and time correct account of your visit on Sunday.
“One of the first things we always endeavour to do on receiving Tripadvisor or other reviews (especially when negative) is check with all the staff working and review our cctv footage of the evening. Lucky for us our CCTV is in HD and time stamps everything to the second. Ditto with our tills….
“I will begin by admitting that, yes there was a miscommunication when you called and it was not inputted on the system that you requested a high chair on booking…This was a simple error (on one of the busiest weekends of the year) and was rectified on the discovery of the said error. I will, of course, be whipping the guilty member of staff to ensure she never makes this mistake again. You mention in your review a lot of timings so let’s address them all in turn.
“You arrived at the restaurant at 7.57.25 and were shown to your table (a high table) by our supervisor Nicole… on seeing the table and having a toddler in tow you went GRRRR WANT LOW TABLE…
“Nicole (danced across the room) and checked the reservations system returning (dancing all the way) to relocate you to a low table seating you at 7.58.30 (a grand total of 65 seconds) and gave you menus.
“A second supervisor, Jenny (flying in on fairy wings) brought over a high chair at 8.01.14 seconds (1 minute and 44 seconds later). Nicole then returned to your table (riding on the back of a unicorn) with 4 glasses and a carafe of water at 8.03.56 seconds…
Ordered drinks at 8.06:45, your food order was taken at 8.08:30… I could go on but I think the point is made. You departed the restaurant at 21.07…
“So a meal for 3.2 people cooked from fresh in a restaurant on the busiest weekend of the year sitting at the busiest time of the evening took less than 1 hour and ten minutes start to finish. The supervisors took the service off the table and offered complimentary desserts for your huge inconvenience (I hope you like my slight embellishments with the dancing, the fairies and unicorns but I get the impression you like fantasy!).
“In short, I won’t be apologising for our bar & restaurant being so popular and noisy on a busy bank holiday as that ‘is simply the way we roll’….
“Patrick (the dashing Prince) who poured your beer at 8:08:44
“Ps sorry it took so long to respond to your review”