When One Angry Yelp Review Goes Viral...

It's a case of he-said, she-said in the latest example of a peeved customer venting their dissatisfaction online.
Editor, Writer & Content Strategist, Various
November 19, 2013

A Davis, California bagel shop owner is learning how quickly one irate customer can create a publicity mess, thanks to social media.

More than a dozen angry, one-star reviews popped up on Posh Bagels’ Yelp page over the past couple of days claiming that a uniformed military person was refused service, according to the Mill Valley Patch. The reviews suggest the shop does not respect the armed services. Many of the negative reviews have since been filtered by Yelp, which says they violate the site’s content guidelines.

According to the original upset reviewer, “Melissa W.”:

“I wish I could give them no stars but sadly I cannot. I've been here many, many times before and loved their food, however, my boyfriend went to get me a sandwich at Posh Bagel today in his service uniform after performing an honor guard service for a fallen military veteran and he was DENIED service because the employee stated ‘they do not support the war.’”

Posh’s owner, Luan Pran, however, says the posting is untrue. She says an un-uniformed man and woman came into the store requesting a military discount, which the shop does not offer. “My employee said, ‘No, I am sorry we do not offer discounts’ they purchased their food and left without any issue,” according to Patch.

Pran says the Yelp reviews are so damaging that she reviewed the security camera tapes and did not see any uniformed members of the military enter the shop over the weekend. She respects the military and would not deny service to anyone—in uniform or not.  “I run a business,” she said. “That would make no sense.”

The publicity around the accusation have led to Posh’s Yelp and Facebook page (which now also has star ratings) being barraged with comments from people both defending Posh, saying the business is military-friendly, and people deriding the shop, claiming it’s not. It shows how quickly a business’s reputation in this day and age of online reviews and social media can be tarnished by one angry person.

Snopes.com, a site that tries to verify the truth of online information, surmises that the accusation that Posh Bagels refused a serviceman in uniform is “probably false.” But, it writes:

“Nonetheless, as typically occurs in such cases, the lack of any proof behind the accusations hasn't stopped numerous Internet commenters from piling on the scorn and posting remarks to Yelp, Facebook and elsewhere condemning Posh Bagel's ownership and vowing to boycott the business.”

Read more articles on online reviews.

Photo: Getty Images

Editor, Writer & Content Strategist, Various