Reading between the lines of the negative online reviews

online review

In the old days, before the internet took over our lives, we relied on friends and relatives for recommendations on businesses.   Depending on the individual giving a business review, we would trust the review or make allowances before forming our own opinion of the business.

For example,

  • Uncle Jack is the biggest scrooge out there, so if his review of the business was: “This Company is a rip off, totally overcharged me, they will take you to the cleaners!” You would not necessarily trust his opinion, because everything is ”a rip off” to uncle Jack unless it came free.
  • Your friend Sarah, whom you known all your life, tells you that another company was excellent to deal with (great pricing, attentive employees, on time service, etc). You would trust her opinion of the business implicitly, since you know that Sarah is level headed individual who is not known for drama.

Today, however, we live in the online world where we interact with people we know nothing about. We tend to skim over the positive reviews and concentrate on negative ones. So how do you know that online reviews are indeed representative of the services or goods that the business offers? You have to read online reviews with a grain of salt and an open mind.

  1. What is the issue? Unforeseeable events happen to the most organized planners, what matters is how the business handled it:
  • The previous trip ran over, resulting in driver being late to your pick up. Did the driver contact customer and keep him/her updated on the new ETA?
  • Vehicles do overheat in the 100F weather!   If you leave your sedan running with AC full blast in the direct sun for 30 min, most likely it will overheat! Limousines are larger and in fact have two AC units that put great strain on the vehicle. So did the company replace the vehicle?
  1. Were customer’s reactions reasonable:
  • If the customer writes: “the limo was 10 min late and it ruined our night,” that is a little bit dramatic. Yes, perhaps the restaurant reservations had to be adjusted, but it should not ruin the evening.
  • Customer does not know how to use radio, he/she does not ask the driver, but will call the main office two days later complaining the radio does not work and demand a refund.
  • Customer was upgraded to a large vehicle because the vehicle they have booked broke down. Customer uses the service for the whole duration of the trip, then calls to complain and demand a full refund. Refund was not issued since the customer used the service, customer is very upset and posts a very negative review.
  1. Customer’s personal preferences:
  • Some customers like to engage into the conversation with the driver, and others don’t. Within the same week we had two opposite feedback on the performance of the same driver. One customer called to say: “Sylvester was an excellent driver, please make sure he is my driver next time I book”. And the other customer wrote us: “Make sure not to schedule Sylvester on my trips in the future. He talked too much.”
  • Each customer has different temperature preferences. Unlike the house with central AC/heating, limousines cannot offer the precise temperature control.
  • Some customers want chauffeurs to travel certain route regardless of the GPS. In this case, the customer would need to give directions to the chauffeur.

So next time you are researching a business, please keep an open mind and remember that there are at least two sides to each story.

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