People Are Talking

Scott Webb Headshot

Scott WebbSo I had this Groupon — paid $25 for $50 worth of flapjacks at the local pancake house — and last Sunday morning, I fired up the troops with the announcement we were all going out for a big pancake breakfast. (This excites my two teenage boys more than you could believe. Despite the fact that they eat for six, they seem to live in constant fear of starvation. To them, a big meal is more than just a pleasure; it's deliverance.)

Anyway, away we go in the van, the five of us, aimed at the pancake house, but when we get there and crowd in the door, I'm informed by the hostess that we can't use our Groupon. The fine print says we have to have a reservation.

Been coming here for years; never had a reservation before. Didn't even know they took reservations. It's a pancake house, for cryin' out loud.

The place is half empty; can't we just make a reservation now?

Nope. Has to be made in advance.

I try her manager. Same story.

And I say, "So you're telling me that I'm a regular customer, here on Sunday morning with my wife and kids all dressed up for breakfast and church, and you're gonna run me out the door over a few lines of fine print?"

That is correct, sir.

So we pile back out, get back in the car, have pancakes at the place down the road, and later, after we get back home, I write a blistering review on two restaurant review sites.

Now, the point of this story is not what happened at the pancake house: I was in the wrong, I didn't read the fine print. And I could have just paid full price and used the Groupon another time, but I chose to get angry and leave.

The point is that only a few years ago, I might have mentioned this incident to a friend or two, and that would have been the end of it. But in the modern age, I got online and told hundreds of people.

And that might have been bad news for the pancake house. Except that this pancake house owner happened to be an Internet-savvy pancake house owner; he hopped right on the site and countered my review with his own version. Pointed out that the fine print states quite clearly that a reservation was required for the Groupon and I should have read it.

Touche, my batter-pouring friend.

Which brings me to the point: This Internet consumer review technology is a really important change in the retail environment that everybody needs to be aware of. It's powerful. And there are things you can do to manage it to your advantage.

You can read more about this in Phil Perry's excellent article.

Scott Webb

Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide