“Do not eat here.  They only allow 1 refill and charge for sharing meals, including pizza.  The portion was small compared to the price.  I now know why this place was empty when I walked in!”

-Tip on foursquare from an angry male customer

 A man walks into a small Italian restaurant located in a tourist area of Florida.  This particular area is filled with a variety of shops and restaurants.  He attempts to eat at a waterfront bar & grill.  Unfortunately, this restaurant is packed.  Finally, he locates and walks into an Italian restaurant where only a handful of people are eating.   He thinks, “This is extremely weird, it’s 12:30 on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  This place should be packed.” 

After taking a seat and looking at the menu, he realizes the restaurant is expensive.  “Hmmm, this might be why this place is empty.  Every other place in this area is a lot cheaper.” Strike 1!  Unfortunately, the prices weren’t the craziest part of the menu.  Typed in large lettering, multiple times, were the words “NO SHARING”.  If a couple wanted to share a dinner, they had to pay $3 for an extra plate.  Thinking about ordering a medium pizza and sharing the extra slices?  Better be prepared to pay an extra few dollars. Strike 2!

Later, as the meals arrived, it was obvious the portions were small.  Expecting a portion size similar to Olive Garden, the man was shocked.  Even worse, there wasn’t complimentary bread that Olive Garden is famous for. Strike 3!  A few minutes later, the man asks the waiter for a 2nd refill.  A young and understanding waiter responded, “I don’t care, but just to let you know for the future, we’re supposed to charge for more than 1 refill.”  Strike 4!  By this time, the frustrated customer responded with, “Please tell the boss that I know it doesn’t cost much to make a fountain Coke.”  Exiting the restaurant, the man proceeded to open up the foursquare app and leave an angry, negative review that will forever be linked to the restaurant. 

This man was me.

Welcome to the life of an angry customer in 2012.  Ten years ago, a customer would have gone home and told family and friends.  It’s even possible that he/she would have forgotten to tell them.  What happens in 2012 and beyond?  The customer can immediately, in the height of  anger, leave a negative review on a mobile application.

If governments can be overthrown by social media, you can guarantee a business can be too!  I’m completely amazed by some of the things people share on their social networks.  They’re sharing personal relationship troubles, the amount of weed they just smoked, and how their dog whizzed on the carpet.  They will definitely share a bad experience at your business!   If a business’s service was horrible, there’s a good chance the customer’s Facebook friends will know about it.

With social media, everything is transparent.  If your company takes part in unethical behavior, it will probably find its way to Facebook.  Are you treating customers unfairly?  Don’t be surprised when a disgruntled customer blogs about it.  It’s 2012; it doesn’t take a celebrity to destroy your business’s reputation.  A 17 year old kid, with 30,000 Twitter followers, can now kill it!

How can you avoid this?

1.  Value customers and their opinions. Because they matter!

This particular business is lucky that I’m very calm and collected.  I also do not like complaining or holding grudges.  Unfortunately for them, not all customers will be as patient.  They will take out their anger on more than foursquare.  The amount of information and reviews that are being shared, is only going to increase!  Be prepared!

2.  Treat customers fairly. The days of silently ripping people off are over!

“NO SHARING” on the menu?  I eat out quite often and have never seen anything like that.  I wasn’t sure if I was in prison or elementary school.    Treat your customers fairly.  Don’t implement a silly fee to squeeze out a few extra dollars.  Give your customers the experience that you would want!

I’ve chosen to take the professional highroad and not disclose the name of the restaurant.  My foursquare tip was enough for me (first negative one I’ve ever posted).  Don’t be fooled though, I am the exception!

Michael Fear is the Founder & CEO of Get Better Today & getbettertoday.com. His mission is to help people understand that getting better every day is not an option, but a necessity. If you’re ever craving Italian food in Southwest Florida, please contact him on Twitter: @MichaelEFear & @GetBetterTday.  He’d love to tell you the restaurant to avoid!


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