Is the customer always right?

06 December 2017 | Jo Doverman

In the hospitality industry, TripAdvisor can be both the friend and the enemy. Negative reviews will always flood in, whilst the golden and truly wonderful experiences often go unnoticed on the review sites, despite being more common than poor service.

Workers in the hospitality trade give up their weekends, evenings and usually work long, extended shifts to ensure the best possible service Is provided for their guests.

I think people in hospitality deserve a medal and are often under appreciated by many and I’m sure it would be every hotelier’s dream to reply with brutal honesty to all the sub-standard feedback.

If a bad review is due, and you can hold up your hand and admit there may have been a fault in service, then you must power through the consequences and use the comments to your benefit and change your service for the better.

But, if you know the customer in question is being unreasonable, it’s oh so tempting to fight your own corner, and rightly so.

One hotel owner in Somerset, Paul Chatwin, who has a solid three out of five stars on TripAdvisor, has been hitting back at the haters in the most wonderfully satisfying way.

Proving that some people just like to have a good moan, ‘Jamie J’ left a rather negative one star review for Paul to get his teeth stuck into.

It appears that “Jamie J” visited Paul’s hotel over a year ago, so arguably his memory of events is slightly askew. After claiming his room was damp, towels were used and that Paul shouted at him to leave the hotel, he goes on to call the hotel a ‘hell hole’.

However, Paul took a breath and calmly typed a rather sassy response. After all, his hotel is his livelihood and despite what some reviewers may think, hotel owners and staff really do want the best experience for their guests and will go above and beyond to ensure this.

Paul began: “It has been a year since you stayed, perhaps you had forgotten about us as you’ve clearly forgotten what actually happened.”

He went on to explain that he had asked ‘Jamie J’ to vacate his room on numerous occasions between 10am and 12:30pm to no success.

He continued to shut down the negative reviewer and signed off saying: “you then became verbally aggressive and I called the police. You decided to leave before they arrived. The truth doesn’t quite match your tale does it!”

Paul has defended his “Basil Fawlty” style approach saying he’s “just really fed up with the ‘customer is always right’ type of argument.”

It’s good practice for any business to monitor and maintain their reputation both on and offline and while Paul’s approach is somewhat unorthodox, he’s certainly doing his best to turn those frowns upside down and rectify the situation.

I can’t say it’s how we’d recommend you respond to negative comments but fair play to Paul for defending his hotel!