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Striking Back

January 31, 2018

As a PR company, we often are asked how to respond to a negative story or complaint on a public forum.

Sometimes the best response is to ignore it. On the other hand, sometimes it pays to strike back. Especially if you can pull it off with a sense of humor that makes the complainer look like a silly goose.

Here’s a case in point.

This story appeared on a website in Ireland (https://www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com/epic-response-to-negative-review/). I cannot vouch for its authenticity. It’s not reported on Snopes.com. I can only say that if it’s not true it ought to be.

Hotel Doolin in County Clare, Ireland, got a scathing review on Trip Advisor in June 2017 from a guest writing under the name Lovnhawaii. The reviewer accused Emma, the front desk receptionist, of being a deceitful, dishonest liar, complained about the Wi-Fi service and groused about the “grumpy old men” serving below-average food in the restaurant.

The hotel’s General Manager, Donal Minihane, posted a response. After apologizing for the mistake made by the receptionist at check-in and explaining that wi-fi in the west of Ireland is universally appalling, he turned to the grumpy old men complaint.

“There are three men over the age of forty working in the hotel,” he wrote. “Only one of them was working on the night you stayed, so we didn’t know how to deal with the ‘grumpy old men’ in your review, until my assistant manager came up with the only viable solution.

“We’ve decided to execute all three of these men to ensure that no other guests will have to endure the horrific ordeal you went through that evening in the bar.

“Paul, Martin and Luis will be blindfolded and shot in the back of the head at Fitz’s cross after mass this Sunday. There will be trad music, cocktail sausages and face-painting for the kids, and I can organise a pair of complementary tickets for you if you wish to attend. I know this will not make up for what happened to you, but we hope it will go some way towards showing you that we take your feedback seriously.

“You see, even though you hurt us deeply with your review, we’d still like to be friends, we’d love if you afforded us the opportunity to change your opinion of us and hope that you will return to Doolin someday.

“In fact, each year on the 30th February we have a party for our valued past customers who think we are liars. We all hold hands and dance around a campfire and sing songs that help us forget about the past and look with hope towards the future. We’d love if you could make it (that lying cheating ruffian Emma won’t be there, we promise).”

Point, set and match to Mr. Minihane.

PS. In researching this story, I have discovered that clever TripAdvisor ripostes seem to be something of an emerging art form. Consider, for instance, this recent story about a boutique hotel in Manchester, England. https://lovinmanchester.com/feature/manchester-hotel-bites-back-at-bad-review. Advice to TripAdvisor critics: check to see if there are security cameras!

Photo caption: Hotel Doolin in Ireland.