Think twice before writing that negative vendor review

Guest post by Love and Kittehs
Bride checking the internet III
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.

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.

Comments on Think twice before writing that negative vendor review

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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….

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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. 🙂

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

    • 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

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