Recently a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he’d just been out to a restaurant in Rozelle where in his own words, the steak he had “sucked”. I found it amusing, but even more so, the opinions of many of the people who commented, some people suggested that he “name and shame” the restaurant.

Sometimes it's better to have it out in person. Photo: AFP

Coincidentally, on the same day, while walking in the park with my kids, my mother-in-law needed to go to the loo. I might add that she is an elderly pensioner and had recently undergone serious surgery. I suggested she use the bathroom of a local café that we eat at regularly. Moments later she returned and informed us that they refused to allow her to use their toilet unless she was buying something! I was furious, I just can’t stand that sort of mentality and lack of gracious social consideration! Shame on the café owners, shame!

So it got me thinking, is “naming and shaming” on a social media site the way to deal with things nowadays?

Okay, so I am on a social media styled site right now relating my anger at the lack of decency of that cafe, but from a personal point of view, I don’t think I could name and shame. It’s not my style.

When they first started social media sites, the intention was to start conversations and help people to connect – I still see loads of that going on, which is great, but I’d have to have been living under a rock if I never saw or at least wasn’t aware of social media’s darker side. Not to get into an already overly-discussed topic, but the internet can be a very negative place and you don’t have to dig deep to find some dirt.

One thing I have noticed is that for some people, when they don’t like something, it’s not long before they’ve shared that information with the world - or at least their friends online. But I don’t really care about all of that. My reason for not “naming and shaming” is greater than trying to avoid doing it on the internet; it’s simply that I still believe in talking something out with someone.

I sometimes wonder whether the people who are so quick to name and shame online - often with great passion - are equally as passionate when dealing on a one to one basis with an actual person, i.e. someone who is standing right in front of them. While there might be some instant gratification in commenting online, I somehow doubt that it leaves any real mark. Does it really make a difference? I don’t think so, excepting cyber bullying of course, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

There’s something so definite about looking somebody in the eyes and telling them exactly how you feel. You’re not hiding; you’re being forthright and up front, having the courage of your convictions. It takes guts, but it sure feels good when you do it and more importantly, meeting someone at that level gives everyone an opportunity for explanations, apologies and recompense.

I read somebody online commenting about their boss, saying he was a jerk and didn’t pay enough! Don’t tell me about it, I thought, go tell your boss. Perhaps leave out the jerk part but you’re not going to get fired for asking for a raise!

The bottom line is that “naming and shaming” online isn’t for me. But I will admit this - I was torn when I read a post by a lady in reference to her four-year-old niece. There was a picture of the young niece, beaten black and blue with a belt by her mother’s boyfriend, who is now on the run from the police. The lady who put up the post also named the man and asked for help in finding him.

Was she right to put up this post? I don’t know! There is no blanket rule but for now, I’m still not going to “name and shame”.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • Jorge says:

      05:50am | 12/02/13

      Yeah I say yes. Not just for cat photos innmy opinion social media helps us better understand the world whether that is a brilliant or terrible customer service experience.

      Especially where those organisations are well funded companies who have plenty of capacity to deal with an issue, and you have given them every opportunity to do so, and they still come up with a completely illogical and unfair customer service outcome.

      For me though I dont touch cafes or restaurants online or offline. You cant convince a waiter or cafe owner in person how to do their job better if they dont already know.

      But if a big telco stung me a few hundred dollars for unfair Intnl roaming and I had to spend an hour loud talking about filing a complaint w TIO then that is straight to Twitter.

    • ramases says:

      07:33am | 12/02/13

      Its time people had a chance to hit back at establishments that purport to be 5 star or whatever and then either fall short or just plain fail. As for the restaurant that refused the use of their loo, name them and then refuse to eat there again. A bout of bad publicity for anyone so maybe we would see places raise their games to the expectations of its customers instead of relying on the apathy of the general public.
        I for one use rating sites to name and shame and have several times been threatened with legal action because of it but that wont stop me as I think that the general public has a right to know which establishments give the service they advertise and those that don’t.
        Social media is becoming the poor man’s action station where they have a chance to take on those, who would because of their size or prominence in the world would in the past have bullied the ordinary person into submission,  or completely disregarded them now have to give the service that they advertise, as now people can voice their opinions on line and millions can see their concerns to the detriment of those businesses.
        One bad word on Twitter or Facebook can undo millions of dollars worth of advertising in seconds but beware, make sure you can back up your claims with witnesses or photo’s or paperwork as vexatious, vindictive and salacious claims probably will end up in a trip to court and you out of pocket.

    • Roxanne says:

      08:12am | 12/02/13

      I agree with that.  My partner and I stayed at the Grace in Sydney and were subjected to the poorest standard of service.  In fact, I have never come across such arrogant jumped up staff ever.  We were paying very good money for our room and expected at least courtesy. Our complaint to the duty manager went unnoticed.  I then went to see the general manager on the Monday and was treated like a serf.  So I posted on my Facebook, and my Linkedin account about them.  Not long after we received a call offering us a complimentary room for a weekend of our choice.  We took the offer and gave it to a friend as we never want to go back there. So, yes, there is a place for whinging on social media when all else has failed.

    • Andrew says:

      08:32am | 12/02/13

      I guess that is what ramases and roxanne have mentiond i was trying to say below, my issue is that there is no rules or checklist as to when something being complained about online and potentially destroying million dollars of advertising.

      On the one hand, the fact that i am staying at that place or using that product could mean that the advertising has led me to believe that they would match my needs and wants, but it could also be that i am a tool who expects far too much and has such a high opinion of himself and the service that i was offered was actually good but the fact they didn’t offer to carry me around from place to place whilst giving me free food and drink was enough to offend my perceived standards.

      I might get really upset at being treated a certain way but that is not saying that the hotel was wrong in not treating me that way and did not deserve a rant on a social network site that harms their business.

      With great power comes great responsibility, unfortunatley i think we are sometimes not responsible enough to have it and that is my fear.

    • ramases says:

      08:54am | 12/02/13

      Roxanne, we stayed at an establishment in a far north town that is classed as 5 star but found it so bad that I would have given it 1 star at the most. The rooms were dirty, the aircond noisy and complaints to the management went unheeded even one from another patron that his room smelt of sewerage.
        I wrote a one review on one review page and stated the facts and am now waiting for the letter from their solicitors as they have threatened me with legal action. I hope they do as I have photo’s and witness statements plus an email from the manager abusing me for actually raising my concerns with him first.
        Add to that that if they proceed I will add my review to every review page on the net as I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

    • NSS says:

      09:20am | 12/02/13

      The threat alone of social media naming and shaming can be enough to focus attention of poorly perfoming hotels, I’ve found.

      Had a situation occur where a party of friends and myself were treated appallingly by one particular establishment.  We waited patiently for hours for the monumental stuff-up to be rectified, however, when our patience was giving out we did exactly as I described. The effect was quite pleasing. The free champagne and half price rooms were very welcome -and well earned.

    • Troy Flynn says:

      02:35pm | 12/02/13

      I agree with naming and shaming when you have the evidence to back it up. As others have said, these companies usually have deep pockets and would happily sue you into oblivion if you didn’t cover your ass.
      Look at the recent example of the Subway foot long that was pictured with a tape measure clearly showing it was only 11 inches. That story I believe originated in Australia, but ended up getting world wide headlines. The U.S. parent company was quick to issue a statement to mitigate the damage.
      Of course, if he didn’t go to social media, the whole issue would be have been swept under the carpet.

    • NSS says:

      03:42pm | 12/02/13

      I think Damien’s point is that we should confront those who let us down in person BEFORE we go to social media. I agree with him. It is the honourable and direct way, as I suggested in my previous post.

      However, sometimes this tactic garners us no satisfaction, even IF we threaten and have solid evidence. Then, definitely, we should use the tools at our disposal, taking into our account libel and defamation laws, of course.

      An inch off a Sub? Really?  Sheesh, surely there are more important things in life? Hmm, I smell a rat!

    • tina says:

      07:46am | 12/02/13

      I hate facebook some times! I’m a school principal and my experience is that school students can get themselves into too much trouble when they post things on socila media that they wouldn’t have the nerve to say face to face with the other person. But in the darkness of their bedrooms or in the corner of the school yard they have a false courage that allows them to unleash words and comments that can be biting and harsh. Then fights break out about what’s been said and it blows up in their face. Cyberspace offers too much false security that can come crashing down at times. Best to either keep it to yourself or say it in person in my opinion.

    • subotic is anti-social says:

      09:36am | 12/02/13

      I hate facebook some times!

      Some times?

      And the rest….

    • Meph says:

      11:10am | 12/02/13


      “But in the darkness of their bedrooms or in the corner of the school yard they have a false courage”

      This is because the internet isn’t what they think it is. Too many people seem to think that it’s a huge playground where you can do anything without consequences.

      It’s actually quite funny how many people are drawn to it by the idea that there might not be any consequences. I suspect there’s a life lesson hidden in there somewhere.

    • Andrew says:

      08:22am | 12/02/13

      These type of sights have given a lot more power to the consumer and sometimes it seems it is the best way to get some type of response from the, lets call it target. As always though, when there is some power people will abuse it and i have no doubt this happens. There will always be people now who threaten or bad mouth other companies and people because the outlet is there and potential for retribution or punishment is very little.

      We had some extremley poor and uncomfortable experiences from a particular hotel, they were being extremley difficult through out or actual communcation until we threatened to post about it on trip advisor. We got the very minimal refund we desired. So it can work and work well as companies are increasingly relying on social media to help their brands and are aware at how quickly things can be changed in that environment.

      But there will always be people who will complain almost to the point of blackmail (as i am sure some poeple would think my situation above was, it wasn’t trust me we deserved a refund) and do it consistently because they can and that they can get away with it.

      The internet is a very wild west place, for every new idea that helps enhance peoples lives their will be people willing to use that to do the opposite.

    • Kammy says:

      08:27am | 12/02/13

      The problem with the name-and-shame mentality is that it seems it’s starting to become acceptable to name individuals and complain about them to the whole world. Some of the types who do this have their own little cult of personality going on online and soon there is a mob of people whose common sense has been dragged off by their desire to appear sympathetic and caring towards this strident whinger ‘friend’ of theirs. The person being called out may have acted quite understandably given whatever the full story is, but when faced with an angry mob will probably apologise just to make the situation go away.

      Businesses are a different thing entirely and in some cases it’s absolutely fair to call them out publicly. Many of them these days encourage us to talk to them online via their own social media accounts and should be prepared with a trained customer service person monitoring these accounts (who may be able to smooth things over very easily in cases where the annoyed customer just wants SOMEONE to listen). Making private contact through complaints channels is the right first step, but some organisations are arrogant or don’t bother training their people properly and that deserves to be exposed.

      You have to ask yourself though if you’re genuinely interested in fixing a problem or just indulging in the very enjoyable hobby of complaining! I’ve seen people conduct endless Twitter vendettas against companies that have sometimes quite legitimately wronged them and wonder whether they spend an equivalent amount of time talking about the good service they receive. I think sometimes people who bang on about bad treatment are the ones who end up blundering into it the most, so sometimes it’s better to relax and let it slide if no real harm was done. And most importantly you don’t have to sympathise with everybody who is complaining on the Internet…

    • T says:

      08:52am | 12/02/13

      There is always two sides to a story

    • John O says:

      09:55am | 12/02/13

      Spot on: Side 1: What the person complaining said happened: 2: What actually did happen.

    • T says:

      12:51pm | 12/02/13

      Definitely true, if you are the type of person who believes everything they hear from people you have a lot to learn.

      How about trying something for yourself?

    • Joan says:

      08:59am | 12/02/13

      Damien, a cafe or restaurant refusing the loo service is very common overseas unless you buy something so I don’t see that this cafe is any different.  However, I know that your dismay is more because you have dined there regularly.  Perhaps the person that turned your mother in law away was unaware of this or the cafe has a blanket rule….you don’t buy you don’t use the loo.  Maybe if you had all walked there with her it MAY have been a different outcome.  I know how uncomfortable it would have been for your MIL.
      I agree it is better to deal directly with the person or organization that you have a problem with.  If all that fails and they refuse to listen or acknowledge your complaint then I see no reason why you can’t vent on social media.

      Another great article from you.  Thank you.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:00am | 12/02/13

      Of course it’s a good thing.
      Word-and-mouth from people that you know is probably the best way to judge an establishment- and in doing so spend or save your money accordingly- ensuring decent venues are more likely to get business than the most noticable but lousy.
      The miracle of capitalism at work, I say. Why should it be any other way?
      Restaurants that are crap, or have stingy greedy policies or lousy service must accept the consequences of potential customers voting with their feet- and letting everyone else know where not to waste their money.

    • anon says:

      09:09am | 12/02/13

      I’m a conservative voter, as was my dad and his dad.
      We want things to always stay the way they are. When things change, we ignore the changes and go on about our lives content in the fact that things are always the same.
      We have a very successful business that has grown by leaps and bounds ever since we started posting anonymous rants about our competitors on social media. We make sure to do this from hole in the wall internet cafes and free wifi wherever we find it.
      Gotta love this digital age.

    • also anon says:

      10:20am | 12/02/13

      I’m a progressive voter, and I want things to change to suit me. So I use social media to railroad people I don’t agree with, and respectfully demand that they conform. It’s great because I can use it to threaten businesses and create massive false outrage on behalf of others.

    • anon says:

      10:50am | 12/02/13

      Dad, is that you?

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      02:48pm | 12/02/13

      Or alternatively, people could use facebook- as they are not anonymous and everybody who reads their opinions likely knows them well enough to know any biases they might have.

      Or better yet, people can just excercise proper judgement on anonymous sites, and read further comments, scrutinizing them all, to come to a conclusion if they are genuine complaints, competitor smearing, or the person holds personal preferences to certain cuisines.

      You know, things that people should be doing anyway when assessing appraisals and criticisms. After all, we could go back to the good-ol days where paid judges gave reports that may have been skewed by sponsors, business associations and partnerships, and other back-room biases the judges may have possessed- including if the restaurant identified them as a judge and gave them extra-special treatment.

      Simple really.

    • Smidgeling says:

      09:22am | 12/02/13

      Damien, you might think not letting your mother-in-law use the toilet without a purchase is unfair, but have you seen the toilets in places that allow people to use them without a purchase? For example, McDonalds…nasty stuff.

    • Meh says:

      09:42am | 12/02/13

      ” I suggested she use the bathroom of a local café that we eat at regularly. Moments later she returned and informed us that they refused to allow her to use their toilet unless she was buying something! I was furious”

      Why were you furious? Normal manners would have her buy a bottle of water or something. If the staff recognised her as a regular and still enforced that rule then yeah you have a reason to be a bit peeved, but otherwise it is a reciprocal relationship.

    • Kate says:

      11:31am | 12/02/13

      If a decent restaurant charged you for a meal that then came back undercooked and inedible, and then refused to give you a refund or apologise, then yes, I would be ‘naming and shaming’. If you just ordered something you didn’t like, that is a bit of an overreaction.
      As for the toilets, sorry, but it’s common courtesy to make a purchase - even a bottle of water or a Coke - when you use their facilities. The staff have to clean those toilets themselves most of the time, and it IS their place of business. Yes, you say you eat there regularly - customer service people are not robots, we do not have automatic recall of customers. You might remember us from your other transactions, but we see so many customers over the course of a week, we often don’t remember people, including ‘regulars’.

    • KimL says:

      12:18pm | 12/02/13

      I am sorry I think its wrong with the issue of the toilets recently I went to a service station on the way to Sydney, we paid for petrol and I went in to buy coffee. There was a young heavily pregnant women standing with a child of about 2 years of age they refused her entry to the toilets unless she bought something. The 2 year old was crying obviously in discomfort..I said to the attendant.. they are with me and if you want to be paid for the fuel I suggest you let her and this baby use the rest room. She thanked me , but I will never go back to that Petrol Station again..for me its a matter of morality

    • John O says:

      12:35pm | 12/02/13

      ‘they are with me and if you want to be paid for the fuel I suggest you let her and this baby use the rest room.’

      Bravo KimL. What if they still refused: would you seriously have driven off without paying? You have been arrested and charged with theft for starters, and I doubt a magistrate would be interested in whether the pregnant lady was with you or not. And once it came out that you didn’t: Well….

    • KimL says:

      03:11pm | 12/02/13

      Fortunately they let her use the facilities John, but the bad publicity it would have generated if I had drove away, would not have been worth their while. Some times in life we have a to make a stand, and I made mine for that young pregnant woman and her toddler.. I would not stand by and see anyone beaten either without saying something.. you either act or face your own cowardice in life.

    • Ben says:

      12:38pm | 12/02/13

      My wife recently bought a marinated cut of beef from a local and well-known butcher chain. When she unwrapped it she saw a slight discolouration (green) on the side. I put my nose to it and it was rank, so much so that we put it in the freezer.

      My wife returned it the very next day. After discreetly asking for the person in charge, she was approached by an indifferent manager who told her that he had packed the sides in question and that there was nothing wrong with them. My wife suggested defrosting it and asking the customers in the store to smell it for themselves. He then gave her a refund and turned away with not so much as an apology.

      We wouldn’t name and shame the chain on Facebook. But we made sure we told a few friends, family members and colleagues. Social media is simply an extension of that.

    • Rebecca says:

      01:03pm | 12/02/13

      I think there is a place for naming and shaming. I’ve dealt with businesses before who had horrific customer service and couldn’t give a hoot if you tried to bring it up with them (The worst being a certain hotel in Wagga Wagga - what a nightmare!). That’s the time to hit them where it hurts - their pocket. Never return, and make sure your friends and family don’t go either.

      In saying that, be classy about it and have some common sense. Maybe you as the customer were the problem. If you’ve done what you can to be fair and they really have treated you badly, go right ahead and let everybody know about it! The beauty of social media is that it can keep companies accountable for their service.

    • Grumpy Pants says:

      04:06pm | 12/02/13

      Too many people expect too much these days!

    • the aussie pope says:

      06:02pm | 12/02/13

      90% of all Facebook problems of Facebook Users are created by the Facebook Administration and Facebook Owners !!


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