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How *Not* To Handle a Bad Review!

How *Not* To Handle a Bad Review!

This is a lesson in what not to do when your business gets a bad review!  It doesn’t get much worse than this.  I don’t know any of these people and am not associated with either party.

I found this on the internet and began following the story.  I’ve attempted to piece it together into one cohesive article.  I’ve left out some of the details but there’s still enough for you to be able to get the point!

**Note ‑ Language Warning!**

The original review was on Yelp.  The review garnered a single star out of a possible 5 stars.

What’s interesting to me is that the reviewer didn’t really “rip” the restaurant apart, or go on a lengthy rant about things that were outside the restaurant’s control.  The review didn’t insult the restaurant owner personally.  Opinions were not presented as fact.

It just seemed like a genuine review where the person writing the review didn’t like the service.

The Original Review

This is the original review, the review that kicked off a series of unbelievable events:

Where it All Started - The Original Review

The Restaurant Owner’s Response!

What did the restaurant owner do?  Why of course he tracked down the reviewer on social media (wouldn’t you?) and offered this response:

Followed by this from the original review writer:


The Apology

The restaurant owner later issued the following apology according to Ruchu Tan,

Seemingly a sincere apology.  That should be the end of it, right?  Not so.

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse…

Things could’ve been all good from there, but Nguyen and his group of friends continued to taunt Tan through social media, including using his full name as a hashtag on their posts and calling him a “fraud boi.”

Nothing like a little harassment on social media to really stir the pot.  Here’s just one small example:


Of course, you had to know it would escalate from there!  A Facebook group has been created urging for the boycott of Ninja City until Bac Nguyen issues a sincere apology for his actions.  Here’s their group statement:

“On September 8, 2014, Bac Nguyen sent messages threatening and personally attacking customers, in retaliation for an unflattering Yelp review of his restaurant Ninja City Kitchen and Bar. He did not send an apology until the victims stated they would otherwise go public with the messages. However, even after the apologies, Nguyen continued to harass and taunt the victims. Nguyen’s bullying tactics and complete (sic) unprofessionalism hurt more than the individual customers. They hurt the country’s perception of Cleveland. This is a group devoted to holding Bac Nguyen accountable for his actions and promoting a safe and tolerant environment for Cleveland consumers.”

Apparently, the aim of this group wasn’t to try and put Nguyen’s restaurant out of business.  They wanted a public apology and for Nguyen to end the outrageous behavior.

OK Then, Another Apology!

The restaurant owner posted another apology – this time on his website.  The Facebook boycott group added some comments of their own (in blue):

Bac Nguyen, We have received your response and commend you for taking steps to hold yourself accountable for your past misconduct. We accept your response and we will no longer ask people to join, share, or continue the boycott. We however make the following observations regarding your public statement

1. “I said some really stupid things… I did act crazy,irrational, and said some horrible things.”

a. We perceive this as your concession that you made threats of violence, sexual and racial slurs, personal attacks.

2. “However, I am not a racist. I work with and employ people from all different ethnic backgrounds. One of my business partners is an Indian American woman, and she has provided the following statement on my behalf. I thank everyone who has reached out to me regarding the issue of me being racist, as people who know me personally know that this is not the case.”

a. We are not asking you to apologize for being a racist. We are asking you to apologize for making racist comments. Trotting out your Indian American business partner to declare that you are racism-free does not justify those comments or make them any less racist and sexist.

b. These are facts that will never change and always be offensive. Reference to a woman of South Asian descent as “Punjabi puss” is a racist and sexist comment. Reference to a woman as a “bitch,” “an ugly piece of shit,” or an “ugly Asian bitch” is sexist.

3. “I mistakenly assumed that the negative review was written personally and maliciously, and I was wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t expect every single person to love our food.”

a. We appreciate that you acknowledge that you made this assumption.

4. “Shortly after my outburst, I provided both a written apology and a video apology, which I am now sharing out of respect.”

a. This is a confusing statement. At the crux of our boycott, we took issue with the fact that AFTER you sent the written apology and the video apology, you CONTINUED to harass and taunt Ruchu, hashtagging Ruchu as a “fraud,” posting his full name, and even mocking the boycott campaign on your restaurant’s public social media sites.

b. We do not know who or what you are “respecting.” You shared your written apology and video apology, NEGATED by your subsequent continuing harassment. Sharing the apologies you contradicted afterwards with your actions only serves to win you sympathy points and further lead your supporters to believe that you were unduly targeted by Ruchu and this campaign.

5. “Ruchu – I have also reached out to you directly one more time as well, as I feel like I still owe you a face-to-face apology for both my original reaction as well as any subsequent actions on my part. However, I completely respect your decision if you’d still rather not meet.”

a. Clarification: you sent a direct email to Ruchu, October 30, 2014, at the same time you posted this public response.

b. From September 10, 2014 through October 29, 2014, you did not directly communicate with us or Ruchu.

6. “I’ve learned from this situation and will work to handle criticism better, and to control my temper.”

a. We perceive this to be your (albeit vague) plan of action. We commend you for it and believe your plan will increase your success as a business owner.

We find the most disturbing aspect of your apology is that it skirts around the fact that you continued to harass Ruchu and mock the boycott campaign after you sent your apologies. This is the basis on which our boycott and group was founded. However, you do address it significantly in your direct email to Ruchu, so that will be accepted and posted.

We, again, commend you for taking steps to own and learn from your past misconduct.

We will update those who approach us with your response and our acceptance of your response.

Sincerely, Clevelanders Against Consumer Intimidation

Epilog? Yelp Sides with Restaurant Owner!

In one of the more bizarre twists to a bizarre saga, it appears as if Yelp has decided to prevent the original review writer from adding anything more to this story – at least on Yelp!


Here’s a message that at least stands a chance of being the final word (here, anyway) on this horrible saga:

review yelp update

For hints and suggestions about how you might consider responding to a negative review, read What To Do With a Bad Review