Think twice before writing that negative vendor review #Advice#disappointment#expectations#industry insiders#lessons learned#wedding industry September 17 | Guest post by Love and Kittehs WAIT! Before you post that negative vendor review, you should read this post. © by madprime, used under Creative Commons license. My husband and I had a very beautiful, quaint country wedding with our closest family and friends. Almost everything about our day was perfect. Everything, that is, except for one of the vendors we were working with. While I won't go into specifics here, I will simply say that we were left disappointed and upset by the way we were treated by said vendor. While I had been generally frustrated by some of the actions of the vendor throughout the day-of, we found out about many of the problems through family and friends post-wedding day. We were quite irritated, but the fact was that since we know about these problems and didn't bring them up the day of the wedding, there wasn't much we could do. …Or was there? A few weeks after the wedding, I began writing reviews on Wedding Wire (which has about a thousand sister sites that it shares its posts with by the way — It's like the ten-headed industrial wedding complex monster). Some vendor reviews were great — like our DJs who were rock stars — and some reviews were less great — like for the bakery that never came through, leaving a friend to bake our cakes the day before the wedding. The most negative was reserved for the vendor that was, in our opinion, the absolute worst. I'll admit when I wrote this review, I was running high on rage, fueled by unbridled opinions of several family members and friends. It was a truly negative review, and, admittedly, somewhat uncouth. The review posted, and a few days later the vendor posted their own reply, which was equally uncouth and honestly a bit damning and damaging to the business that posted it. Satisfied with the result, I forgot about the review and went about my life. Until my parents got the certified letter in the mail. Apparently, I had gotten such a rise out of the vendor that they had decided to sue me. Yes, it's true. By law, in my state at least, some of the statements that I wrote were considered defamatory and therefore against the law. Which meant I could be sued for a total up to $350,000. Basically a very nice house for the price of my opinion on the interwebs. I was floored. I had heard about lawsuits for postings on the internet before, but I never thought it could happen to me. A few short, hateful sentences translated into a potential lawsuit that could break our new family before we even had a chance to get started. In the end, the matter was settled by removing the review. Which is way easier said than done! Wedding review websites are hard enough to navigate, and to remove a post entirely often requires contacting them directly, which requires a shady submission form and a lot of hope that some human somewhere will read it and remove your post. Related Post The scary new wedding photography trend: 10 tips to avoid getting burned Imagine getting your wedding photos back and having them... well... suck. Blurry shots, bad lighting, cheesy poses. What happened to the gorgeous shots you saw... Read more I can't describe the relief that I feel now that the trouble is finally behind us. Trouble that made me realize that in our crazy world, the things you choose to say or blog about can really hurt you, as silly as they may seem. So before you go posting that crazy-mad review, follow these tips: Think long and hard. Be sensible. Be aware of your wording — saying that they "stole" from you is a defamatory statement. If this is true, chances are you've already notified the authorities. If they broke the contract, make sure you have proof and are already seeking legal assistance. Most importantly, don't air your dirty laundry on a blog. If you want to warn other potential clients about a vendor, do so with style and grace. Be careful of accusatory statements — posting that you were displeased with the services rendered is one thing; whereas posting that they stole your dress or car or grandma's walker is a serious accusation and you should really be following up with the police, not a wedding blog. If a vendor is serious about pursuing legal action, they will do so. We were given an out — others may not give you that chance. An event like this can really sour that "new marriage" bliss. Luckily, my husband and I were able to approach the matter sensibly. We talked about it and made the decision to remove the post together. He supported me through the stressful process of contacting the site to remove the review and waiting for the answer from the vendor's attorney. He easily could have been enraged with my foolishness in posting something so brash, but instead he was calm and supportive. While everything worked out in the end, I realized that it was not worth the anxiety and sleepless nights. That single thoughtless act caused entirely too much drama and angst in the few days that it took to resolve the problem. It made me realize that life is way too short to fuss over something so petty. Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Love and Kittehs I am a cat loving introvert trying to make my mark on the world in the hills of Virginia. I love the mountains, motorcycles, art, and my amazing husband. PREVIOUS Confetti, a shoe game, and some kick-ass cake toppers NEXT Amazing Hawaiian wedding fashion porn with surprising shoe advice Show/Hide comments [ 59 ] This is great advice. I had a terrible experience with a wedding planner (they've yet to pay one of our vendors and it's been a month!) I would have written a stinging review, but his company broke up a couple months ago, so what was the point? Now I'm glad I dodged that bullet. He'd definitely be the type to sue me. Ugh. 9 agree Reply One little aside: this post perfect captures one of the reasons that I've always been very clear that offbeatbride.com is NOT a review platform. (Check the disclaimer that's linked from all vendor listings and advertorials)… there are just too many legal issues involved when it comes to reviewing businesses. I totally appreciate sites like Wedding Wire and Yelp that are dedicated to business reviews — they've got lawyers to help them wade through it all! As for us here at Offbeat Bride, we stick to our constructive approach: celebrating the stuff that was awesome, and learning from the stuff that didn't go so well. 24 agree Reply Ariel – what about the Tribe? Are you not worried, because it's a closed community? Stories like these really freak me out (I've had job-related dealings with threatening lawyers – never came to anything, but enough to freak me out.) I always worry that even private places aren't really private. 2 agree Reply From the Offbeat Bride Tribe's Code of Conduct: No vendor bashing The Tribe is not a review platform. With our small, private community, the most useful thing members can do is recommend vendors other members should use. We understand bad experiences with vendors happen, but we ask that members refrain from posting negative reviews on the Tribe — there are websites dedicated to vendor reviews which will reach a wider audience (Wedding Wire and Yelp are both good). Posting on review sites is much more useful for the wider online community of brides and event planners, and more useful for the business. 7 agree Reply This reminds me of something one of the doctors I used to work for used to say: "If you think it, don't say it, If you say it, don't write it down, If you write it down, don't sign it, and if you sign it, don't be surprised." This also has a corollary for the internet age: "If you post about it on facebook, don't be surprised when the shitstorm arrives." 73 agree Reply Wow, something most people don't think about when reviewing or posting on a blog. I'm going to keep this in mind as I begin to write reviews from our honeymoon… 1 agrees Reply Great post, definitely sympathize with the author. I had a dealing with a vendor that was negative (well, miserable really). I'm so glad I chose my words wisely and didn't name names or post pix in my blog. Wedding planning is stressful enough and there is a lot of high emotion that comes with it. I can attest is VERY hard to sit quiet when I'm dying to warn others of my experience, but this is the way the internet works now and it's not necessarily a bad thing as many of us are online buyers AND sellers at some point. Reply Oh, man this post scared me. I wrote a negative review about the place I got my dress and I thought "maybe I went too far." However I waited months (like seven months) after the entire incident before writing anything and I wrote the very basic here's-my-experience and why I was displeased without getting raging mad or inappropriate. And I included that overall I was pleased with my dress and the price, just not the service/attitude of the consultant. I actually feel a little better about my review now, but this was a great reminder about what NOT to do in a review. Thanks for this. (Also, I work for an online newspaper and there's a local company suing someone for the negative things they keep posting about them on the site I manage. Luckily the company I work for is owned by a much larger company with a massive legal team. Not my problem.) 4 agree Reply This is good to know! I've heard of it happening before but never really understood how. I ordered a customized anniversary gift last week and the quality was TERRIBLE and then I couldn't get the vendor to respond about a return. I was so close to posting pictures with a bad review. After reading this I'm quite glad I didnt! 1 agrees Reply Although it is good to think about the way you review services online, you should really not accept bad quality for your money and then the vendor not responding any more. I would write a review stating just the naked facts, no emotional colouring to it. 4 agree Reply This is VERY important information. I didn't think anyone could get sued for posting a bad review! That scares me! This really defeats the purpose of online reviews, where the common man could voice his opinion. Sure, I believe one should be aware and courteous when making a review, but I see the fear of being sued skewing the overall review too positively. 24 agree Reply This really defeats the purpose of online reviews, where the common man could voice his opinion. I don't think this is the case at all. The author's guidance here is pretty clear about what can get you in trouble — stuff like "they stole from me!" or "they broke the contract!" Basically, if a vendor has done either of those things, you should contact the police. No one could sue you for saying something like "I was extremely disappointed by the level of service I received from this vendor, and would not recommend them to anyone." No business could argue with those statements — were you disappointed? Yes. Would you recommend them? No. The key is framing your statements in ways that the vendor CANNOT ARGUE about. It's just like any good debate, really. The issue here isn't about anyone being silenced — it's about being thoughtful and articulate in your feedback. Ultimately, thoughtful articulate feedback reflects better on you, AND is more helpful to the business. 72 agree Reply Oh yes. This a million times. Sometimes when I'm really pissed, or whenever I feel inarticulate, bullet pointing the thoughts help minimize the ranting and focus on what *really* happened. I've posted negative reviews in Yelp, and one in particular where I elaborated on exactly what was wrong with the food and why I didn't like it, yielded a personal message from one of the restauranteurs and an actual change in the kitchen. 18 agree Reply Well said. I'm currently volunteering in community legal education and defamation on the internet is my little focus for the season. Now that we can all be publishers we need to watch it. You can voice negative opinions (based on true stuff that happened)to your heart's content. It's when you start saying what sounds like statements of fact that things get risky. And think about how what you've said could be interpreted. It's very easy when you're emotional to start coming across to others like you're stating plain facts, so that "the standard of service didn't meet the expectations we had when we engaged the vendor's services" becomes "they ignored everything we contracted for and made it their business to ruin the most important day of our lives!" I think defamation imposes a pretty sensible limit on freedom of expression. Surely the purpose of online reviews is to voice opinions based on truth. 12 agree Reply Hey, my mom is a lawyer! Like, she knows about this stuff!! I asked her about this, and she sent me this back– I asked her for examples from the list from Wikipedia pertaining to this situation. Defamation means "false statements are considered to be harmful" Statements are defamatory when they say one or more of the following things: Allegations about a person's professional character or standing– (This can be really tricky in terms of a situation you're describing because if someone acted unprofessionally and you write that down, you could be sued. "The wedding planner got sloshed at our reception and burned my wedding gown in the parking lot" could TECHNICALLY hurt her professional standing, but this is one where you would probably be able to fight it as "truth"– if that actually happened, without exaggeration, it's not defamation if you're able to prove it. However, in the situation you described, I'm better what got her is that she didn't see most of what happened first hand, so sentences started with things like "My sister told me later" or "My brother saw her", "My cousin told me she told her"– if YOU, personally, were not there to witness it, it is a legal liability to mention it–unless they have proof like wedding photos or video that show whatever thing they mentioned happening.) Allegations or imputations "injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession" (So saying "This wedding planner was terrible because she's hired through X company or works on contract with X business" –meaning that those businesses could sue you because they would be connected with the "bad" review and suffer loss of revenue. Even something like "she strong armed me into choosing her brother Jimmy Musicman as the DJ would count, because you're naming him and associating that DJ with her poor service) This one is pretty fun– Allegations or imputations "of loathsome disease" (This now included mental illness, so if your hypothetical bride said "they acted crazy!" they COULD be sued for that.) Allegations or imputations of "unchastity"— (weird but true, hopefully this wasn't what they were being sued for) Allegations or imputations of criminal activity (sometimes only crimes of moral turpitude) ANY time you allege that someone "stole" something or "didn't fulfill the contract" or "took something" or WHATEVER- anything that you might fill out a police report for, if you accuse them of it but don't follow through on your end, that would leave you open to being sued. This can also include allegations of racism or homophobic activity, because technically that is a crime under some statues (depending on how the lawyer would choose to prosecute). It's also important to remember that it's really easy to sue someone–you just fill out the paperwork and they get a threatening letter. Whether or not that case would have held up in court or have resulted in any damages remains to be seen. Defamation is tricky because you don't actually have to PROVE that they caused any damages– they can basically say that "because you said this, anyone on the internet can read it and we will now lose business". It's kind of weird, but true! However, the argument against that would be "fair comment on a matter of public interest"– if you think it is an important matter of public safety that the wedding coordinator was cooking meth in the kitchen during dinner, then you have the right to let people know. Hope my mom (the important lawyer) helped! 50 agree Reply Thank you (and your mom) for this, a thousand times. We should never, never, never be afraid to write a negative review of a company, so long as we have done our legal duty and only conveyed the truth. Unfortunately, many companies will send you letters just to scare you into removing negative reviews (or to scare others into not leaving negative reviews at all). This is an abuse of the legal system and should not be tolerated. So long as you have posted the truth, stand your ground! 29 agree Reply YAAAAAASSSS. Many, many plaintiffs' lawyers basically work on commission, and the less ethical ones will be happy to bill an hour or two to a potential client to write essentially frivolous letters. This is NOT what the legal system is for; in fact there is a rule of civil procedure in most states establishing punishments for lawyers who bring a BS case like this. 1 agrees Reply Well then … I guess I should thank my lucky stars for having dodged a bullet! After our affair I posted a scathing detailed review of our vendor's maitre'd, not the establishment itself however, just his service. Everything else about the establishment, staff, food, service, I pointedly raved about – and perhaps that's what saved me, I don't know. Interestingly enough though, when I checked back on the various sites I used to post my reviews, one of them was deleted, no reason given. I reposted my review on that site, and again later found it removed. By then I was ready to let it go anyway, but it did make me question the value of time spent reading through reviews to make a choice if in fact only good reviews are allowed to post. 3 agree Reply As a vendor, I LOVE this article. If only it could be read by every bride! We have good reviews (4.9/5 on wedding wire), though this year – out of around 100+ weddings – we have had two clients who had the poor sense to email us with a "unless X happens, we'll trash you on the internet" kind of thing. We took action not because we want to cleanse our review page of negative reviews (HONEST reviews – whether negative or positive – are fair game); but more because clients using the internet to throw vicious, unreasonable tantrums undermine the review process. The best advice I can give vendors, though, is to make sure you can evidence your position. From the day we started the business we established a policy of storing both CCTV and photographic evidence of EVERY wedding. We also keep all correspondence for each wedding. We're 100% upfront with our clients about this, and most of the time the footage sits, undisturbed, in our archive. However, should a client decide to allege something untrue, it's a real comfort and relief to know that we can defend our position with EVIDENCE, rather than "he said, she said". 33 agree Reply I've reviewed lots of things online, both negatively and positively. I have also used negative reviews to judge whether I want to do business with a company or not. You can usually tell from reading a review what is a legitimate bad experience and what is just someone using the internet to throw a tantrum. The only time I can think of that I wrote a review that might be the slightest bit questionable was when I reviewed an antique store where we were absolutely treated like miserable criminals because we are strange and have tattoos. I wrote the review on my phone in the car on the way home, that's how hot I was. And I WISH those horrible people had threatened to sue me so that I could have counter-sued them for all our pain and suffering. In that case, my goal was absolutely to tell other tattooed gum chewing freaks that, hey, these miserable old ladies don't want your dirty tattooed freak money and if you go in here you will be treated in a manner that makes you want to go straight home and take a hot scrubby shower while sobbing. I absolutely 100% wanted to make sure that no other person had to ride home feeling as bad as I felt that day, and I considered it worthy of some strong language to get my point across, though I did not swear or make accusations that could not be backed up by a witness. I would hate to think that people would feel that they can't be honest in an online review without fear of being sued. I have friends who run a business and who have actually and maliciously been defamed on the internet, and they have been told that it is damn near impossible to prove defamation on an online level. I'm guessing the vendor just wanted to scare you into taking your review down, and it worked. Now they are free to provide bad service to more unsuspecting people, when in reality simply doing their job in a satisfactory manner would have saved them a lot of time and drama. That kind of bullying behavior makes me sick. Makes me wonder how many other people they've done it to, and whether or not those bad reviews might have saved you some heartache if only they'd stayed up. In any case, I hope people follow your pointers and listen to your story carefully, so that they learn to review things in a safe way even if it's negative, rather than being scared to leave a negative review at all. 13 agree Reply You posted exactly what I was thinking when I read this yesterday but didn't know how to say. It is SUPER easy to sue someone, and actually pretty cheap. No judge or neutral party vets the claims being made against you until you respond to deny them (or accept them, your answer can be either), argue failure to state a claim and you can even counter sue if you want, what's good for the gander and all if you have something worthy of a suit. The only party risking anything when filing a suit is the lawyer who could get in trouble from the state bar for filing a frivolous lawsuit, and the standard for filing a frivolous lawsuit is ridiculously high (like, only if there can be no rational way that the suit has any merits at all). It's a shame that some business use the ease of a lawsuit to have history strategically re-written. While I agree with the author that one should always think before they post online, I worry based on the comments that people are now just going to be afraid to post anything negative online. 6 agree Reply It IS easy to sue someone, much easier than most people realize. Basically just a matter of paying a lawyer a little fee and filing some paperwork and BAM someone you don't like gets a scary letter. Just because you get the scary letter does not even mean that the suit will go to court, or that it will have merit once it goes. Collection agencies do this all the time, file paperwork for a lawsuit so that someone they want to scare gets a nastygram from the court system. They have no intention of ever going ahead with the suit. They just want the scary letter, and 9 times out of 10 that's all it takes to get what they want (money, in that case) because most people are law abiding and good and absolutely freak the fuck out at the first sign of a certified letter. 3 agree Reply Among the best avenues for resolution of vendor issues for the average person (i.e. not a lawyer and not wanting to hire a lawyer) are the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs. Better Business Bureaus are pretty good at resolving complaints through mediation, and by compiling data such as allegations of breach of contract. They can always tell you, if you call, what they have on file about any business that has come onto their radar. Their focus is arbitration, and making the vendor make things right. Consumer Affairs tends to pursue similar matters from a legal standpoint, pursuing legal action when arbitration fails. Both of these entities are far more effective in getting your money back, or getting you compensation for what went wrong than posting bad reviews to the internet. Better Business Bureaus and Consumer Affairs work with law enforcement, usually a District Attorney (and sometimes the FBI if the problems cross state lines), in cases where the problems are entrenched and/or a case can be made for them actually being criminal. Given that the BBB and CA are in the business of dealing with these issues, they know how to keep the client on the right side of the law in dealing with a problematic vendor. And they're free to use! 6 agree Reply In Toronto there is no Better Business Bureau as there were some problems with corruption or something and it shut down. Also, I'm a bit leery about asking businesses to regulate themselves anyway. Reply This was helpful, but I feel completely enraged and disgusted. So they can just go on their merry little way and screw customers over with no consequence because they threaten to sue anyone who posts anything other than praise for shoddy work? Man, fuck these people and their cold, black hearts. Thank you for the warning, I'm an honest reviewer, but I'll be more careful about how I word a review from now on. 4 agree Reply I found this article while searching for comments about weddingwire's sleazy sales tactics for vendors lol. But I definitely would like to weigh in. I understand the law is there to protect businesses, but I am inclined to defend consumers first since I am very much a consumer myself. I mean – god forbid I get a bridezilla that outright defames me for no reason, but like another poster said – anyone with sense can tell right away that the reviewer is 2 apples short of a bushel. On the other side, I have had one scathing review from a bride who I had to refuse to do business with. In the consulting stage she had asked me for 2 different quotes on cake flowers – one scaled down to her budget and one with all the bells and whistles. Apparently her fiance regularly trolled her email account because he emailed me from her account cussing me every which way saying I was trying to con her into buying more than their budget allowed. When I called her to ask what was going on, she played up his story. I was floored. I told her I would not be sending her a contract and would no longer be able to do her wedding. She left a review saying she sent the deposit and was going to sue me (and she didn't – we didn't even have a contract!). I was able to dispute it with weddingwire because we were never involved in a contract in the first place. I did learn my lesson to only work with people who are like minded – and who will not be afraid of my tattooed rockstar husband who helps me with the heavy lifting. I received a mediocre review from a bride I went above and beyond for and i think it was a personality mismatch. Anyway – the point is when you are picking your vendors, don't just read reviews… go with your gut. If they seem shady, run away. If they seem way too eager, be skeptical. You are spending a LOT of money and you most certainly do have a right to be picky. 6 agree Reply It's completely heartbreaking as a professional when you get a bad review, because you've invested so much of yourself, your mind, your soul and your energy into making this one day perfect for someone. As professional wedding venders I know you and I will strive to ensure that we're meeting, and hopefully exceeding, our clients expectations, because that's how we'll stay in business and what our business is all about, but, we're not always going to agree with our clients and more so, they don't always know what's best. As professionals we need to be leaders and not just a "yes" men. I think anyone who's been in the business as long as I have would agree that the landscape of the wedding industry is changing rapidly. Couples are becoming more irrational and irritated when things don't go their way, and shows like Bridzilla and David Tuter's My Fair Wedding aren't helping. They offer distorted views of reality that a lot of times is geared heavily towards one side of the scale. Take for example one of my own experiences; At one of our first meetings back in 2011, I offered this couple (Sarah and Danny) a $1700 discount when the bride began to cry. She said she was in love with our work (wedding photography), but couldn't afford it. We were all moved by her tears so we created a custom package that included, (a) 2 Photographers for a total of up to 10 hours of wedding day coverage, (b) 6 months of online hosting on a password protected web site, (c) 100 Thank You Cards w/ envelopes to put them in, (d) 1 11×14 and 3 8×10 enlargements and, (e) a DVD with rights, all at a steeply discounted price as opposed to full retail. After the meeting was over we felt like we were the best people in the world, because we helped make their day perfect. Wrong! Six months later as it turns out, the weddings over and Sarah and Danny haven't ordered the enlargements that were part of their wedding package so I send them a friendly reminder. Next thing you know they're asking for their money back for the loose enlargements they never got (again, an order they never placed) and not only that, they're demanding the FULL RETAIL value. Sufficeth to say I denied their request and our relationship with this client went South from that moment on, which of course led to a bad review on WeddingWire. So where did I go wrong? Well my first mistake was being a "yes" man. When they said they couldn't afford us I should've given them recommendations on who could instead of taking on the task myself. I personally found that it took years to learn how, why and when to say no, but as a professional it's something I had to be able to do, because when clients come to us – they're seeking our advice and guidance, because we're the ones with the expertise. So my advice, if something isn't going to work, say so and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches later down the road. For example, I probably wouldn't have put in the time to make two quotes, one at each side of the spectrum. Instead I would've tried to be diplomatic and realistic, and work within their budget expectations, but – I feel ya, it feels so darn good to say yes – right up until the point when it bites you in the butt. All my best. Love this site by the way. 7 agree Reply I would be interested in learning more about these weddingwire sleazy sales tactics. Can a vendor pay to get rid of bad reviews or move them down the list? Reply WW is sleazy on that score unfortunately, actually just an open free for all that their staffers never monitor. So many fake and out of business businesses on there that they don't delete. When I paid, the Zip Code finder still didn't work and showed all the Vendors who paid more over me every single time. Yelp is worse, literally pay for play in spite of the law suits they seem to win. Wish I knew how to record their sales calls… 1 agrees Reply I am a vendor who received a nasty little review from a bride who I feel had buyers remorse and took it out on me. She claimed I didn't do what we agreed to in our contract, that I left her reception early, and didn't listen to a word she said. This is not true. All my other reviews are 5/5 with a bride stating she changed her wedding date just to hire me. After reading what most of the brides here have said I feel better in that most people will look at her review and say "wow that's hard to believe". But I do wonder if it has caused me to lose business. 4 agree Reply Writing negative, enraged reviews never helps anyone. As a wedding vendor handling over 750 weddings in the past 10 years, I've had brides write totally untrue, vicious reviews who didn't get back their nonrefundable deposit after booking and cancelling services. In reality, I've had 100% of brides come back when bridesmaids and vice versa. Also, other competing vendors have written negative reviews as unhappy brides just to trash the business. When people are unhappy or envious, in any industry, they will say anything and everything on public forums to make someone not walk through that business's door. What I've learned is as long as the positive reviews are there, the negative ones really have no validation. 5 agree Reply As a wedding vendor, I have only had a couple questionable reviews in my 30+ year career, Always on perceived value, which is a hard one to truly please every single couple every time. What may seem reasonable to one , may seem sky high to another. Advice to all brides wading through a sea of wedding planning and vendor selection, Is there a connection with this person at the time of meeting? Do you feel that they are listening, or are they dictating? Is your budget in line with your desires? Is it written down in a contract? Make sure you have it ALL in writing!! Never go on an implied statement. I design the decor and flowers for weddings. I always try to explain what their budget at hand will provide for my clients, and then do my very best to please them, and the results are happy couples and great word of mouth referrals. I feel so bad when I hear stories like this, no couple should have a bad experience, EVER! Reply I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that! As a professional in the wedding industry, my suggestion would be to simply reach out to the vendor before you write a review. For instance, I have only (to my knowledge) had one bride that was not happy with the fact that she had so little photos that were posed and she wrote a nasty review which was immediately removed. If she would have read the 19 chapter contract and recalled our many consults and even reviewed the information sent in 3 separate emails, she would have seen that we require 2 hours of time through out the day for all of the portraits (bride alone, groom alone, bridal party, all the family formals, couple photos and so on) and she gave me less than 30 minutes in her timeline for ALL of those. In one location – a 30-40 room in a dark hotel. So obviously she didn't take my advice, and read the terms in my contract and so forth. She also verbally told me not to include her stepmother, who was the same age as the bride, and that she loathed her. Later, the family was in an uproar that the stepmother was not included in the formals. The formals that the bride made the list for me to take. She "threw me under the bus" and told them all that it was my fault. Of course then I was getting reviews from her family and so forth. If she would have approached me before she began posting those reviews and blasting me on Facebook, I would have discussed "why" everything happened. In the end, I didn't tell the stepmother that the bride hated her and instructed me not to include her, or show her my formal list provided by the bride, I simply told the stepmother that it was something she needed to take up with the bride. 99% of the time there is a reason that something happened, but I would contact the vendor, get and answer, then if not satisfied with the answer or a return credit, then post. Great post by the way! 3 agree Reply I am a wedding vendor, and from my perspective, you should absolutely be able to post a negative comment, if you feel you were provided with less than acceptable service. Granted, maybe there are ways to tastefully explain why you were disappointed, but you have a right to be upset; your wedding is the biggest day of your life, we might work a hundred weddings a year, but you are only getting married once, you don't have the luxury of a "do-over" and vendors should understand that. The fact that they would sue you is stupid. Perhaps they could reply to you, and that dialog could be posted in wedding wire, etc. then folks could see the conversation and judge for themselves. Just my thought. Congrats on your marriage and best wishes! 2 agree Reply I had some problems happen with a vendor, and I emailed them directly. They were extremely sincere in their apology and also are making sure that does not happen to another person. I felt awful even having to tell them something went "wrong", but at the same time, they should know about it! I mentioned briefly in my review an extremely generalized version that was not overly detailed, because really, what happened to me was an honest mistake, and not something the whole company or even the individual should be "bashed" for. I made sure to point all the great things out in the review, because to me that's fair. The hard part with reviews is to be honest but not crazy sounding, or let your emotions override everything. 5 agree Reply Very interesting piece. And good food for thought. It is something I will keep in mind when I write the reviews for my wedding vendors. Most will be mixed – with the exception of my baker who rocked the cake. But I am still waiting out issues with the wedding photographer, and though I will be careful about how I word my review, I think is very important to put it out there. Positive reviews may be most important to the vendor; but as a consumer, I want to know if someone else had a problem with a vendor so that I can evaluate whether or not to move forward with that vendor. Sometimes a bad review isn't enough to sway me. But if I had read a review expressing the issues I have had with my photographer, I would never have hired her. I want other brides to be aware of the potential pitfalls of dealing with this vendor. No slanderous rant will be necessary, but I think it's important to ask the question: Do YOU want to be the next bride this happens to? That said, your post will help me ensure my reviews are carefully thought out. Thank you! 2 agree Reply This is a great (and very honest) example of why we need to be careful with reviews. It also impresses what I believe strongly… Always wait for the emotion of the bad experience to be gone before reviewing, always talk about facts and not feelings, and always always always proof your review and have someone else do the same to remove the emotional words. Not only does it help avoid this situation, but to the review reader, it adds SO much credibility to your review. When I read the obviously emotional negative reviews, I usually ignore them, but I ALWAYS trust the bad reviewers who stay in facts. I'm trying to write a negative review of a company right now bc of some truly atrocious customer service. I mean, the owner yelling at me, never making any kind of attempt to make things right, breaking a contract, and yelling "I don't want your business and I don't need your money". So I'm not one to keep the review to myself bc I truly don't want anyone else dealing with this, but I've waited a month to start the review and I've been sitting on it for a week so I can be very careful to come across well. Thank you for your candor and honesty – your advice is valuable and I hope people heed your warnings! 2 agree Reply I had the same thing happen to me. One of our vendors was less than perfect, and after reviewing him with an objective account of what happened–facts only–he threatened me with a law suit unless I took the whole thing down. Me and my husband are just trying to forget about how he ruined half of our reception and was incredibly rude to me. We're opting out of the drama of a lawsuit although we would not like to be bullied by someone who doesn't want to take accountability for his actions. Wouldn't you believe it–he has all 5 star reviews online! Looks like we weren't the first people to receive threatening emails. Reply A friend of my battle back & forth with her vender after her wedding. Her video guest book had only 5 usable entries and her entire video was out of focus… She tried to reason with the vendor and he wouldn't reason with her. She couldn't understand why her sound and video were off and everything was out of focus. First dance was also missing. Which all of this was in her contract. He told her she was being unreasonable and there were more video guest book entries but they weren't "usable"…. That's when she wrote the review. The vendor told everyone she was bridezilla and unreasonable.. She replied that anyone is welcome to see her wedding video as proof… You can't always leave glowing reviews…. Reply As a wedding vendor I've been on the other side of this. A client who reacted disproportionately with her misunderstanding and lashed out at us for it (she later realized she was the one in error.) I've had reviews posted to me that we're not from my clients (makes you wonder how true they were if they didn't even get the review to the right vendor!) and I've had other businesses (competition) write false reviews to drag down my business. Some review sites purposely highlight the worst review first, even if you have hundreds of stellar reviews. One review site has contacted me every month this year to ask me to pay them to have them rank my positive reviews higher and burry the one three star review. This experience from the business owner's side of things has left me less enamored with reviews, and far less trusting of their validity and applicability with my own purchasing decisions. 1 agrees Reply I left someone a scathing review but only after they ignored my emails about the product for weeks. Then when they finally decided to talk they ignored the evidence of the issue that I gave them. Legally they are still obligated to replace or refund but they haven't hence the review they got. Reply More steaming hot perspective from a fellow wedding professional comin' at ya! I personally come from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners and can tell you firsthand how review sites like Yelp and Wedding Wire are completely slanted. The fact is, individuals are 100 times more likely to write a negative review instead of a positive one. For every negative review written, it's about 10 positive reviews that never get written at all! That alone should be taken into consideration when reading reviews. Secondly, and I say this in hopes that anyone having a poor experience with a vendor will heed this advice, I sincerely hope that any client of mine disappointed with their service would come to me FIRST and give me the opportunity to at least fix or remedy the relationship before immediately jumping on the first review site to vent their dissatisfaction. The moment you feel unhappy with your service or you see red flags, bring it to the attention of your vendor and offer them the chance to repair any mistrust that's developed! Because if they care about their clients and their business, they WILL do what they can to make you happy, so long as it's within reason and within the expectations established at the start of your relationship. I know how good it can feel to vent your opinion online because JUSTICE!!! But do your vendors a kindness (ahem, be the BIGGER person) and at least give them an opportunity to fix what they broke before throwing it back in their face and subjecting yourself to legal risk, like this article exemplifies. And as so many have said, invest time in getting to know your vendors. The deeper that relationship goes, the more they'll go above and beyond for you. Because most of us our passionate about this industry and truly want you to have the best day of your life. 6 agree Reply Constructive Reviews are great for businesses and future customers. This article's advice is great especially the part about taking your time, maybe editing and being careful about what you say and not posting while on a rage wave. Above all: Always Tell The Truth! Unless you're writing a satire piece for The Onion. We recently got 2 (Yelp and TK) from a Bride who got not only the 5* treatment but we stepped in to do her Wedding Planner's job from 2500 miles away in the middle of the night when we're off duty……. long story. Instead of a simple thanks, she went off about our badly made product (that she or her MOH pretty brutally destroyed with much effort) and bad service (srsly?). I repaired the gown after the wedding For Free because that's how I roll. But then after a quick web search I found a photo of her in a totally different gown at her wedding (not the one we made which was clearly intended for another party) which made her reviews basically a lie, ie: Slander. TK removed the review, and well Yelp is waiting for us to pay them to do so which aint gonna happen. Familiarize yourself with the definition of Slander before hitting the 'Post' button! What's the point of not telling the truth? What would you hope to gain other than a lawsuit for slander? Be fair and be a grown up, you're married now! 1 agrees Reply Unfortunately, brides not wanting to 'hurt' a vendors feelings, or 'hurt' a vendor by leaving a bad review is just as bad. When talking with one couple they discussed issues they had with a vendor that were very pointed and highly problematic. But what did they do? They left a 5 star review because they didn't want to 'hurt' their feelings. If a vendor has failed you, please, please, please leave a review. And as mad as you might be, always stick to the facts, and use clear documentation of the issues whenever possible. If a vendor treats you poorly, let them know and let others know. And if they threaten you, change the wording to fit the requirements of the law but don't walk to let them continue to take advantage of unsuspecting couples. We hear the horror stories all the time… but for some strange reason they rarely make it to the reviews… and that's a HUGE problem for future couples. 1 agrees Reply I agree with Ed. If you have a bad vendor experience you should share that so other couples down the road can avoid them. I would hope someone would do the same for me and my wedding day. My cousin had a wedding DJ who didn't show and reported them to Wedding Certified and now future couples are less likely to get hurt by this company. Good luck ladies Reply Hi, I came across this article on a Google search, and as a wedding musician, just wanted to chime in. It seems that wedding customers and wedding vendors are both a little suspicious of the whole review process. I have heard a lot of brides complaining about how negative reviews aren't allowed; but in the vendor forums, there are always horror stories from the vendor point of view where bad reviews are used as blackmail or come out of truly impossible expectations. Understand that the policy at weddingwire is that if you have a contract with a vendor, you can write freely, whether or not that contract was later cancelled. Whether or not the vendor was paid a single cent or if the contract was even signed. Weddingwire does not investigate the veracity of any negative comments. Someone could literally make things up if they so wished–so the vendor is in a very vulnerable position. The review will only be taken down if there is no contract. There is abuse on both sides–but that abuse is committed by abusive people, not just by vendors or just by customers. The advice I got was to write a letter (my Mom told me this, back when people wrote letters), but keep it in the desk for drawer for 2 weeks. If I still wanted to send it, then I could do it. When a lawyer gets involved, the stakes become very serious for all parties. 1 agrees Reply Interesting Reply As a co-founder of http://www.SightToSee.com ( Find a vendor depending who they work with & where they work with ) I understand both perspectives in this article. I completely agree with this article and very well written. It is very detrimental to the business and sometimes i feel businesses do make mistakes and they understand the power of reviews. At the sametime as a Bride/ Host need to do more research than just reviews to book a vendor for the special occasions. Look for references , talk to other vendors who you are comfortable with. Reply I've seen photographers with scathing reviews because they didn't make a bride look skinny enough, or because a groomsman's tie is not the same height as the others, and event planners who didn't have a Plan C for when a presidential motorcade AND thunderstorm both hit and caused a 20 minute delay…. I mean really, who can possibly make everything perfect? Is your temporary discontent worth ruining someone's livelihood (not to mention making you seem like a total witch?). There's also a little known "underground" with these review sites too. Even ones that say they never remove a bad review… some of them will call the vendor and offer to have them removed for a hefty fee. Others sites will allow a vendor to pay for good reviews, and still other companies post fake reviews and try to force small businesses to pay for removal (there's a post about that kind of scam here: http://www.katforder.com/2015/02/16/bad-review-scam-targeting-photographers/). Since learning about all that I've completely lost faith in reviews and no longer bother to read them, even for restaurants. There is far too much hysterical, biased and completely unreasonable expectations out there to trust the average person's online comments. 2 agree Reply I feel like this post is to scare people from writing negative reviews. If a company does a terrible job, I will let people know. One time I left a negative review, not even that bad, on weddingwire and the owner of the company tried to dispute it on the website. All I had to do was give the site proof that we worked together (a copy of our contract) and that was it. The review is still up. Reply As someone who works in the wedding industry (and who works super hard to make sure my brides are happy so I get only good reviews :)! I have this to say: Online reviews can make or break a company and it can happen very quickly. An extremely negative review is a death sentence. Even if your wrath is deserved, that vendor is going to fight with everything that they have to get it removed in order to avoid going belly up. So that vendor will look for anything within the review that would be considered false or defamatory in order to get it pulled. The author here gives very good advice when she says to pick your words carefully. If you have a bad experience then you should definitely say so, just stick to the facts, keep it simple and keep emotion out of it. This is what happened, we were angry, we would not recommend using this vendor, ever. Your purpose of writing a review should be to let other possible clients know about your experience. And if you need to get your anger out you can always write them a scathing letter…. that will not go viral on the internet. Reply PS… I have been happy to never have to deal with negative reviews myself Reply I'm so discouraged to learn about the inability to post reviews on vendors. I come from a industry of consulting and in the field its all about supply and demand, however customer service is highly valued in the industry. Being a bride myself, why shouldn't I have the "right" to review a vendor. One other thing I find frustrating is the only time you can review a vendor is after you have been in contract with them. I have had several instances with vendor in the past few weeks whom don't return emails. I am offset to such a lack of professionalism and I want the ability to WARN others of the unprofessional-ism. Why shouldn't other learn from experience, I know if I were to see that I wouldn't have bothered even emailing the vendor in the first place! Reply why shouldn't I have the "right" to review a vendor As I said up-thread: you absolutely have the "right" to review a vendor! The author's guidance here is pretty clear about what can get you in trouble — stuff like "they stole from me!" or "they broke the contract!" Basically, if a vendor has done either of those things, you should contact the police. No one could sue you for saying something like "I was extremely disappointed by the level of service I received from this vendor, and would not recommend them to anyone." No business could argue with those statements — were you disappointed? Yes. Would you recommend them? No. The key is framing your statements in ways that the vendor CANNOT ARGUE about. It's just like any good debate, really. The issue here isn't about anyone being silenced or about clients not having the right to review a business — it's about being thoughtful and articulate in your feedback. Ultimately, thoughtful articulate feedback reflects better on you, AND is more helpful to the business. 1 agrees Reply I would agree and concur on your statement. However, what about the level of service given prior to the contract? As brides, shouldn't we have the ability to review if vendors are unprofessional in their ability of communication? Reply I had a strange experience with the photographer at my first wedding. She was absolutely FANTASTIC until it came time to get us our albums and prints. Many of the pictures had a terrible red wash over them that looked like everyone was sunburned and she never did deliver the albums we paid for. I had to order them from a photography site. Understandably, I wrote her a less than flattering review. Flash forward to almost 5 years after my wedding – I get a message from weddingwire saying she's disputing the review!! At that point, my ex and I had just signed our divorce papers, so I really wasn't going to care if she deleted my review or not, but it still floors me that she didn't notice til five years later that I wrote her a bad review. The story gets weirder when I went to look her up and found another (bad) review that was almost word for word my review from a bride who had worked with her about the same time. Strangely enough, that review is still live. Reply I would say the best thing to do about a bad experience is to first talk with the vendor/person about it. Perhaps they do not even know what they did wrong… It is important to remember no one is perfect and mistakes can be made… often times the vendor has employees who work the events and those employees cannot possibly do everything exactly how the employer would have done it… Most times the vendor will love to have the chance to apologize and make it up to you in some way that they can. Obviously certain things cannot be undone or re-done(like your wedding), but giving them the chance to try and make it right before posting your negative review may give you some insight into their reasons behind the thing that went "wrong" or "different" and hence help your review to be more about the pure facts without any emotional word vomit. 😉 Some vendors may truly think they did not do anything wrong, and it is your right to post your review of your experience and how it affected you and your event. The reviews we have most been confused by are ones that offer a wonderful and kind review about how perfectly happy they were and then post a less than perfect score 😉 These reviews really do mean a lot to a business and they take the words to heart, at least most companies do! Thanks for the insightful article! 1 agrees Reply I'm really glad it all worked out. Thank you for letting us know about this! Reply As a vendor I have to say this article is so important. I'm sorry you had a crappy vendor experience but I'm also thankful that you used it to learn and help others. One other thing I wanted to add was that often, even after the event is over, if you contact the vendor directly and express your frustrations and concerns with them that they will try to come up with a way to fix it, or at least give you a heartfelt apology. I know I had a few not so great vendor experiences for my own wedding, I thought about leaving bad reviews, but instead wrote my caterer a long email with a detailed explanation of what had gone wrong. I got an apology and I think that they will be more careful in the future. 1 agrees Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Participate in this conversation via email No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. 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