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How NOT to Respond to a Negative Review — a Cautionary Tale

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You can’t afford this type of PR.

If your business has ever had a bad review online, you know how tempting it can be to respond in less-than-polite terms.

But that’s generally the wrong way to go, as one tech entrepreneur learned.

Denis Grisak created a product called Garadget, an app-based garage-door controller, Inc. reports. And one customer was none too satisfied, leaving scathing reviews on both the company’s forum and Amazon.com.

User rdmart7 said on the company forum that the app wouldn’t stay open and the product was “a piece of s***.”

On Amazon, posting as R. Martin, he wrote: “Junk – DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY – iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly, start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products.”

Grisak replied on the company forum:

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Robert,

The abusive language here and in your negative Amazon review, submitted minutes after experiencing a technical difficulty, only demonstrates your poor impulse control. I’m happy to provide the technical support to the customers on my Saturday night but I’m not going to tolerate any tantrums.

At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 2f0036… will be denied server connection.

In other words, the reviewer’s product was rendered useless. And that was a dismal PR move for Grisak — the type that no startup firm can really afford.

Media outlets ranging from Hacker News to Inc. to the Atlantic covered the exchange. And Garadget ended up with additional negative feedback like this review on Amazon: “Would normally have recommended this device but unfortunately this device relies on manufacturer’s cloud services and if you do something trivial to piss off the manufacturer they will brick your device. Look elsewhere.”

Grisak told the Los Angeles Times he regrets his response.

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“I was overprotective of my product and it was hard to take this criticism,” he told the newspaper. “It’s not going to happen again.”

The Atlantic reports that Grisak has restored Martin’s connection, but that Martin is, nonetheless, trying to return the item.

“I should have bought him back with kindness,” Grisak said.

Read more at Inc.

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