“You know what the great thing is about owning your own business? You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”
That’s what you told me this morning when your food truck arrived 10 minutes past its scheduled opening time and still hadn’t opened 10 minutes after that. That’s what you told me after I waited for you in 10-degree weather for 20 minutes, until my gloved fingers had lost all feeling. That’s what you told me when I commented to you, “You know, when it’s this cold, you really have to be here on time.”
But that wasn’t the end of it. You then lectured me about how comments like that were “hurtful.” You bitched at me about some earlier negative feedback I’d given you privately; apparently those comments were “hurtful” as well. You explained at length (while my shwarma got cold and my fingers got colder) why negative feedback about your business is hurtful: your life is just so darn hard (You have a baby! You’ve been working since 7:45 this morning! Your generator broke down! Oh, the horror!) that it’s just not fair for people to complain about your food or your service.
Do you know, Avi, what you could have said to me instead of all that? “You’re absolutely right that we should be here on time. We had some problems with the truck this morning, but of course you shouldn’t have to worry about that. I’m so sorry you had to wait in the freezing cold for 20 minutes. Please let me give you a discount on your lunch to try to make up for it just a little bit.” If you’d taken that approach, I wouldn’t be writing this letter.
The customer is always right, Avi, even when he’s wrong. And I was not wrong.
I was not wrong when I told you that your felafel are neither hot nor crunchy enough. (As I told you at the time, it’s entirely possible that other people might feel differently; I was giving you — again, privately — my own, personal opinion for you to do with as you saw fit.)
I was not wrong when I told you your french fries are soggy. (Sorry, this one is not a matter of opinion; your fries have been totally, indisputably soggy every single time I’ve bought them.)
I was not wrong when I told you that you and your crew don’t know how to put hot sauce on a wrap properly. (Amazingly, even after you claimed this morning that you had taken special care to spread the hot sauce evenly, I failed to detect a single bite of hot sauce in my entire wrap.)
I was not wrong to be annoyed when it took you three tries to charge LevelUp properly the previous time I visited the truck, the first of those three tries being a 30% overcharge you’d have gladly let stand if I hadn’t brought it to your attention.
I was not wrong to be upset about being kept waiting 20 minutes past your scheduled opening time in the freezing cold. I was not wrong to share with you the fact that I was upset.
During your tirade this morning, you asked me why people make “hurtful” comments to you about your business. While I can’t speak for other people, the reason I do it is to help the businesses I patronize improve, which benefits both them and me.
Now that you’ve made it clear to me that my feedback is not welcome, I will no longer share it with you. That will be easy, since I will no longer be patronizing (or recommending) your business.
You know what the great thing is about having an internet connection? You don’t have to remain silent when a business treats you like crap.