Office workers. / SUR

Critical mass

PETER EDGERTON

Didn't put stapler back in right place." Two stars.

"Took six toilet breaks during the morning and used someone else's milk to make his coffee. Never washes his mug. Disgusting." One star.

"Plays Candy Crush when she should be working on Excel. Never coming here again." One star.

Imagine if office workers were subject to Google reviews and Trip Advisor-style critiques. It would be absolutely hilarious. The thing is they're not, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a good number of the very same people feel perfectly entitled to offer their dubious wisdom with regard to the efforts of those working in the hospitality trade.

Hiding behind names like TravelKing, anyone who isn't anyone can hold forth on how they think a barman/waitress/hotel manager could do their job better and make spurious complaints whenever it takes their fancy.

We're lucky down at The Shakespeare because our reviews are generally very good (no thanks to me) but we have had three or four genuine one star reviews from disgruntled customers who have invariably been "tired and emotional" and, having been unable to muster a scintilla of joy from their holiday, have decided to vent their ire in our direction. I've always given these chaps short shrift with a firm and frank reply. They invariably look foolish.

The real problems begin when somebody decides that the best way they can spend their short time on God's earth is to engage in a personal vendetta against you and your business. This will often involve a series of false profiles and negative reviews all created by the same person, blatant lies, personal insults and not very good grammar. The trouble is there's not much you can do about it. It happened to us a couple of years ago when an ex-customer decided that the many woes of her life were actually our responsibility and indulged in all of the above tactics in an attempt to do as much damage as possible to our humble establishment. The fact that she failed miserably isn't really the point because, on another occasion, in different circumstances, her dastardly intentions may have been realised.

This doesn't happen in any other trade, or at least not to the same extent. Blimey, if my bank had Google reviews, I think the flurry of one star scores would constitute a galaxy in next to no time. Ditto telephone/electricity/insurance companies.

So, whatever your own job, next time you're minded to lambast some poor waitress somewhere for not putting the right colour straws in your drink, think how you'd feel if the tables were turned:

"TravelKing didn't tighten the stopcock with the correct tool. Ate beef paste sandwiches with mouth open. Whistled out of tune. Unbelievable." One star.