The power of a bad review

It’s been a little bit over a year since I started using Yelp on a regular basis, mainly motivated by a recent change in zip code. I’ve found it to be really useful most of the times, and I try to contribute with reviews and check-ins as much as I can. But what really keeps me using the app is the fun I get by reading the reviews. Yelpers are a tough crowd, and it’s good. They say no publicity is bad publicity and I might agree… Let me explain you why with an example.

When Yelping for new places I sort them by distance, price range and hours of service, and after finding a couple of viable options I jump right into the reviews.

Not too long ago I noticed I tend to pay more attention to the reviews that have low scores. When I made the observation I laughed at myself for being a pessimist and tried to read as many positive reviews as negative ones, but soon enough realized that I prefer to read negative reviews since they tend to be either more honest or more fun to read.

On my way back from work I was reading about a bar that some people from the office was going to visit today. As I thought I had a slight clue of what place they were talking about as I thought I had walked past by it a couple of times in the past, I went ahead and Yelped it. As usual, it looked like a decent place on the pictures, the menu was not too special and the beer list a little bit shorter than what I would have expected for a sports bar, but overall looked good. Time to go to the reviews.

It had three stars, which is not too bad for a sports bar in a very hip neighborhood, but all the reviews shown on the main screen were highly ranked, so I thought it would take several pages of nice and positive reviews (boring) for me to start reading complains about how much it differed from a fine steakhouse (fun!). My bad. The first three reviews were 4 and 5 stars, with lots of good points about the bar, the food, the service and the ambiance, but the fourth review had the magic words in it: “I was scared after reading so many mixed reviews but I decided to give it a try…”. Gold.

I usually try to be honest and not be too harsh when a business has terrible service. It takes a conscious effort to try to be objective and not rant on your review, and I’m aware I’ve been hard on some of them. But every time I feel I’ve crossed the line and thought of myself as Ego (the evil food critic from Ratatouille), I open the interwebs and read a couple of reviews and I find peace by remembering I’m not alone.

From that fourth review and on, every single review was trashing the place. I thought about copying some quotes here but I rather leave them to the imagination. What I can tell you about this place after reading about 20 reviews is that:

  • It has an amazing “All you can eat” wings special on Mondays for $8…
    • Which serves cold and stale wings
  • It has around 20 TVs to watch your favorite Sunday football games…
    • But they reserve the right to use the audio system to blast the top 10 pop songs instead of the game’s audio
  • They have really good beer prices…
    • For their ONE beer on tap
  • Waiters and waitresses are awesome, friendly and hip…
    • Whenever they are in the mood to serve your table
  • Kate the waitress is the best!…
    • But can’t remember your order or what beer is on tap
  • The place has indoors and outdoors seating, and a lounge area that makes you feel VIP…
    • But they can ask you to move to a different table in the middle of your lunch
      • Even if yours was the only table in the place seating someone
  • Sunday brunch is fantastic, with $15 bottomless mimosa pitchers…
    • That are enjoyed by (quote) “douchebaggy steroids guys with tank tops and tattoos”… wow…

But hey, according to Yelper MV, “No matter the weather, you can always find a group of drunken dancers in skanky outfits. Be ready to mingle singles!”. So there you go. If you’re looking for skanky dresses and don’t care about beer selection, service, food quality (or temperature), paying for overpriced stale appetizers and forced gratuity, and you’re around the area, this is the place for you!

I don’t know you, but after reading so many negative awesome reviews I can’t make my mind on whether I should put my shoes on and make my way to this bar, or avoid it at all costs.

Who am I lying to, I’m typing this from my phone.


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