Monday, June 3, 2013


Mixed feelings is about how I'd sum up writing online reviews for businesses-- Yelp, Angie's List, restaurants/travel site and the likes.  I rely on these reviews to help me make purchasing decisions so I figure I should put my two cents in when I use a recommended company.... and I'm happy to do it when I have something nice to say.  But when I don't, well, I feel bad.

Maybe it's because my mom drummed into me as a child "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Or maybe it's because I tend to be a people pleaser and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. 

Case in point, today I dropped off a rental car at Enterprise that I'd driven for the past six days.  My car was in the body shop-- thanks to a valet parking attendant who was driving at a high rate of speed, backwards-- the wrong way, and crashed into my car.  (No one was hurt.  Phew.) 

Despite having successfully rented countless times over the years with Enterprise, I was issued the nastiest, smelliest, dirtiest car ever.  And the gas tank was empty.  Not a good start.  But the real problem was that about 3 miles from the rental office I realized the car smelled like a big, wet, dirty dog, and the inside windshield and steering wheel looked like the dog had slobbered all over them.

Here's the thing-- This particular Enterprise office didn't see a problem with the car's condition, nor did they offer to fix it.  To me that equals a poor review on Yelp and after clicking the "post review" button with my unpleasant experience, I felt bad fearing I could get someone fired if the corporate office read it.

Or, on our recent trip to New York City--  We were upgraded to a big, gorgeous suite in our favorite hotel.  It was lovely and a real treat since NYC hotel rooms are usually the size of a closet. 

Problem was, upon our return home, the website I booked the room with sent me an email asking for my feedback and any photos of the room we might have taken.

This is the only photo of the room we took... because it cracked us up.

I sang the praises of the hotel and their generous upgrade and made a joke about the view making sure review readers knew I had the option for the upgrade or a standard room that overlooked the street (which wasn't much of a view at all).  But still, I felt bad, as if I was looking a gift horse in the mouth.  (Do people still say that expression or am I just old?)

How about the handy man I'd recently hired off Angie's List--  He was a disaster from the moment he arrived in our house.  That review was as polite as possible but not one that recommended him again.  With that review I felt bad and a little afraid since he knows where I live.  Should I have not written a review?

Make no mistake, I'm very generous with praise too--  My house painters were found off a website and my review highly recommended them.  The local coffee shop with biscuits to die for got a rave review too, so did the nice waitress at our favorite deli, and the great fabric shop by my house.

But it's the not so great reviews that keep me awake at night.  I just plain feel bad even though I don't believe I got the service or product I paid for.

So my question for you is-- To review or not to review?   What do you think?  Are the reviews worth the effort?  Do you read or rely on online reviews?  I'd love to know.

And on a sad note...
My dear blog friend, Eddie Bluelights of Clouds and Silvery Linings recently lost his wife to cancer.  You may recall Eddie interviewed me for "The Sunday Roast" as while back.  He's been scarce around Blogland for the past several months while taking care of his wife.  It would be lovely if you would please stop by and send some cheer his way.  CLICK HERE.

Welcome to  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © beermedia -


  1. We hired a contractor off of Angie's list and it was a disaster from the beginning. I saved all our correspondences vowing to post them along with a detailed account of our experience. But in the end, I didn't do a thing....I was so glad the process was finally over that I just let it go. I recognize that these on-line communities only work if the good and bad is posted but I didn't do it for all the reasons you listed above so you aren't alone.

  2. i knew about eddies was sad to hear & have prayed for him since...cant imagine...

    i am honest in my reviews...if i do them...i figure i am saving someone else...but then again you are right someone may lose a job...i dont do many reviews but i will def tell others what is good/bad...

  3. I hate writing bad reviews too, but sometimes you just have to!
    Sorry to hear about Eddies wife. I don't know him but I remember the roast.

  4. Don't feel too bad about the reviews. My husband was trying to book hotel rooms for Niagra Falls and found some honest reviews. So we did not spend $400 on a room we may not have gotten and whose view is not what it seems online. That is really good to know because we don't have the dough to spare. If people want return business, they need to give decent customer service. And it is perfectly fine to leave a less than stellar review. Sounds like you are polite when you do so. Just remember other people need to know the facts, so they don't get stuck with someone who won't do a good job. And I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's wife. Cancer sucks.

  5. Oh JJ, I so understand what you are saying. It's so easy to praise, and so difficult to do the opposite. I always worry that perhaps it was me, I was having a bad day, or I was in a mood or I'm being to harsh or judgmental so I tend to shy away from bad reviews because of that, and yet having worked for a small business, the owners appreciate both types of reviews so they can fix things if need be - they can't always be there and they don't want someone ruining their reputation. Thanks for sharing about the gentleman who lost his wife. I went to his site and left a comment. My hubby and I are both living with cancer, it's a difficult road. Hugs!!

  6. Thank you, Joanna, for your kindness mentioning my sad loss. I am truly a lucky man to have so many friends in BlogLand. I am most touched by the wonderful comments I have received.
    I am adjusting slowly but it will take time to get over this. Bless you, Joanna ~ Eddie X

  7. I can truly identify with your having second thoughts about negative reviews. But then, I try to tell myself that we have to have the courage of our convictions. So I say "Good for you!" You may have saved another person from sharing your lousy experience.

  8. I think those gift horses produce good reviews. I see that as part of the problem with trusting reviews. Then you have the problem of different locations, managers, staff, etc. Here's another expression - I take these online reviews with a grain of salt.

  9. I'll go out of my way to post a good review or like a business on facebook, but when things are bad I just tell every one I know so they have a context for my criticism. And I think there's a lot of use to a negative review--I'd want to know what others think before buying something or going somewhere.

  10. So sorry for your friend's loss.

    I do read reviews, but don't often write any. I suppose an honest review is most important.

  11. I write reviews, and when something very wrong happens, I write about it. I think others appreciate the information.

  12. If it's something very offputting or something incredibly well done, I will write the review. I think it's only fair since I rely on them to hire contractors and such. HomeStars is free and I find one of the better ones out there.

  13. Hi JJ, thanks for popping by my blog again.
    Reviews. I do give them if I have something nice to say, and I only leave a 'derogatory' review if it's well deserved.
    I can't imagine living next to a fabric shop! I would be in deep trouble I think! lol
    We still use that expression: "looking a gift horse in the mouth".

  14. Poor Eddie - going to visit him after this.

    I don't usually write reviews.

  15. I do believe in reviews, but my pet peeve is in leaving the reviews...most companies extremely difficult! Sheesh! They want name, blood type etc., etc.
    They make it much easier to use their site and ask for all your info then! Why do you have to repeat it all? Just saying!!

    PS Don't feel bad...if they suck...they suck. Say so!

  16. We just started on Angie's list. Hired a tree man. He was super. Now we've hired a painter. Got our fingers crossed.

    We rely on those reviews to hire people. Don't we owe it to our fellow consumers to be honest rather than polite? I know, easier said than done.

  17. I bought something from Amazon the other week and it was NOT what I thought it should be, so I wrote a scathing review so that others would not be taken in. I read all the reviews of something I'm getting ready to buy, so that this doesn't happen very often.

    Sorry to hear about your friend's wife. I'll go over and send my condolences.

  18. I don't rely completely on reviews, but they are helpful. One can usually tell if the person writing the review is trying to be a jerk or being straightforward.

    I appreciate finding out things in advance, I don't have a lot of money to spare, either.

    I will never rent from Enterprise again. They tried to rent me a vehicle that had broken seat latches, so in the event of an accident, my seat and the passenger seat would not have remained in place.

    I noticed it in the parking lot and asked for another car, which they grudgingly provided.

    They 'didn't see why it was such a big deal'.

  19. I totally understand your dilemma. I have recently been given the opportunity to review new music. I consider myself an eclectic listener but some of the stuff was just not my style and there was no way I could write a glowing review. So I contacted the folks who asked me to review and politely declined to do so - knowing it may cost me the next opportunity. But as Shakespeare said, to thine own self be true.

  20. I do an occasional review. Time is the issue for me. If I have 10 leisure minutes on the computer, I'd spend it blogging instead of on the review. :)

    The determining factor for me is if service is VERY good or VERY bad. I love to compliment and I feel that complaining is necessary for reimbursements, a re-do of service, or just plain ol' getting it off my chest.

    Average service or products rarely get my attention on a survey, although it should.

    Blessings to Eddie.

  21. Yes, I DO rely on reviews, however I read a lot of them and don't base them on just one person. THAT person who gave a bad review could have just had a bad hair day or someone had ticked him/her off. I think a lot of people rely on reviews.

  22. A room with a view. How could you complain?? Love your graphics. Dianne

  23. There are so many aspects to the subject of this post. Hiring a stranger to come into your home to do some work is getting scarier, although many years ago that is what I did when I needed a handyman or electrician etc. The only way to keep someone who advertises for work determined to do good work is to give an honest review. Not nit-picky stuff, but if there was a problem that was not resolved satisfactorily, the next person should be made aware of it. Fear of repercussion is becoming a reason for silence, or a not quite so honest review, and that is too bad. I hope you do write a review about your experiences, Joanna, and describe it honestly, fully, and clearly.

  24. Go ahead...the phrase, "And the truth shall set you free," comes to mind. And we all need to be free. Each dollar comes very difficulty these days and so should be well spent. I am with you on the negative as well as the positive reviews. Just so long as you never say, Your Mother Knows, sucks. I, too, know where you live...sorta'

  25. I do use online reviews a lot. I rely on them for certain things and I appreciate that someone like you would take the time to write them. Don't feel bad, just be honest, which is what you are already doing.

  26. I am an avid reviewer as well, Joanna...Yelp, Trip Advisor...I'm quick to give praise but I feel negative feedback is just as important. Here in Mumbai, I've spent eight days in the worst hotel of my life..and I let Trip Advisor know. I know I should have checked out but I am on such a budget and it has taken me forever to find a room to rent for my six month stay. Finally, I have a nice place...can't move in till 1 July but parents of a former Royal Caribbean crew friend, who found that place for me, also saved me in the interim.

    I even reviewed Dr. Belzer, the wonderful orthopedist that did my total shoulder replacement..and even commented that, besides being very competent, he wasn't bad looking, either.

  27. Very sorry to hear about the death of Mrs. Eddie BlueLights.

  28. I am back reading my favorite blogs again...back in the world I want to be in. :)

    I grew up in family owned restaurants. Believe me my parents/owners wanted to know what was wrong so they could fix it. They'd never fire someone for one mistake..but if it happened over and over they would. Perhaps the server might need more training..or the cooks was just under immense pressure.

    The OWNER wants to know! I check Yelp for dining and Angies for contractors. I go by # of reviews. If a place has 200 reviews and get an average rating, that pretty good in my book. If they have 6 reviews and get 5 stars, well..not so much.

    Lucky you on the upgrade!!!


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