Electric Boogaloo

On 10/20/17 I was commuting home from work and saw a driver in a local electrician company’s van flick a lit cigarette out onto the street. Usually, I’d just roll my eyes and continue on, but this day I was particularly bothered by this. I’ve come to know Tigard as my home and as I get older my community has become increasingly important to me.

I left a short one-star review on his Google listing “Just watched a driver in a [company name] van flick a lit cigarette out of his window. Good job.” then quickly forgot about the entire situation.

Today, Webfor gets a message via its contact form the owner of the company:

My wife and I work 70+ hours per week at our family business. We pay 100% insurance for employees and their families….Wes has the time in his life to write a 1-star review on google because he saw a [company name] employee flick a cigarette out the window of one of our work vans? I would look forward to speaking with Wes and finding out if he feels he is making the world a better place while taking food out of my son’s mouth. Please have him call me.

It appears the owner of the company decided to look me up online, find my place of employment, and message my company about the review I left. My boss forwarded me the message, and as requested, I called the owner.

I had two intentions before I actually called him: one, to tell him that the proper way to respond to reviews is via your Google listing… and two, that if he agreed to simply inform his driver that littering was against policy and the law, that I’d gladly remove the review.

Before I was able to get to my second point, he was yelling at me. “Are you really making the world a better place? You’re fucking taking food out of my son’s mouth. FUCK YOU FUCK YOU WES FUCK YOU.” click. He hung up. He was obviously unhinged. Not sure why he wanted me to call him.

I looked at his email again. He wanted me to call him. After about 10 minutes I gave him another call, started with “Look, I agree a one-star review is harsh, but this isn’t how you deal with bad PR. Would you want the public to know how you are acting? Would you want your brand attached to…” he interrupts, yelling again about how I have nothing better to do with my time then leave bad reviews and ruin entire companies, then starts raising his voice and becoming unhinged. He threatened to blast the company I work for with bad reviews. I simply state “this is my last phone communication on this matter.” and hang up.

In retrospect, this likely sounded like a threat, but from my perspective, I was just trying to tell him that the way he’s acting is way out of line, and was even going to try to open a dialog about how to deal with stuff like this. I was probably being naive.

I really did consider blasting him online. Google guidelines do not allow reviews based on media coverage or politics, but they do allow reviews based on non-financial interactions with companies, I was confident my review would stay. But even  after being cursed at, stalked at my place of employment, and threatened with retaliation, I tried to empathize with the guy. He has a kiddo, he works, he’s a dick, but he may have been having a bad day. We all have them. I know I have.

I decide to remove the review, I do so (Google doesn’t make it easy, but I find out how) and send him an email:

I’ve removed my one-star review.

I would recommend you find a better way to deal with bad PR. Google’s guidelines do allow for reviews to be made with non-financial direct observance or interactions with businesses.

Please consider informing your employees that littering isn’t acceptable, and note that any form of retribution would be detrimental to your online listings and social media presence.

This will be the last communication you receive from me on this matter.

About 20 minutes later I get a reply from the Owner:

Wes, your a complete tool.

Sent from my iPhone

I debated just posting the review again with all the updated correspondence. Instead, I just post part of the story on Facebook. My story gets shared, liked, people voting for all sorts of war. But I decided to tell my story and that’s it.

Later that night I get a text message:

Wes, it is unethical for you to have your friends/associates post negative reviews when they have never been one of our customers. (1)just came through on Facebook and (1) just came through on GOOGLE…and they are not one of our customers. They are being dishonest.

I will re-evaluate tomorrow morning and then it might be best if I review you and your company from my side of the story. I will also make time tomorrow to discuss this with your boss.

I reply:

I don’t own a company. I removed the review and shared my story and your correspondence with me via social media. I do not control the actions of others nor do I know all of the people listed in the reviews. Your threats and our communications have been recorded, and further threats to contact companies I work, for or other third parties is harassment will result in law enforcement involvement and/or litigation.

Right now one-star reviews are starting to fill up his listings online. I’m sure they will be removed if he goes through the proper channels. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be a full day for the owner and his staff of hunting down the workplaces of various one-star reviewers…