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Rate My Service: A True Story about a Devastating Critique

Rate My Service: A True Story about a Devastating Critique

Someone wronged Mike, the owner, unfairly, and plastered it online. My heart went out to him.


I needed some guitar supplies for a kumzitz. I didn't feel like shlepping to the stores I normally go to and with the help of Google I discovered a store close to my office called Mike's Music. I couldn't believe I hadn't know about it after all these years working in the area.

I wanted to first check online ratings before making the trip. Most were excellent, but then I found this one:

suzanne TC 3 reviews a year ago-

It is all about greed and money. They have a very unfair makeup/cancelation policy. So if class falls on a holiday ( Ex. July 4th) and the center is closed, they still charge you for the class, . They do not pay the teachers for that day either, so free money for them. According to their policy it is up to the costumer to schedule a make up. However, the teachers are all always fully booked. It is almost impossible to schedule a make up class. Their solution: They offer substitutes. But they are missing the point, after working with a teacher for many years, I don't need a stranger who has never met my child nor know anything about his progress hanging out with him for 30 minutes. I don't call that a "make up " class. That is just a waste of time and money.

Also their parking stinks.

Bottom line: I don't recommend them, Mike and his wife are greedy people.

I finished reading the review and had my doubts about going. I didn’t want to give my business to a greedy, inconsiderate person. But then I noticed that the owner, Mike, had responded. I read further:

Response from the owner 7 months ago

Hi Suzanne,

Wow, where do I start?

How about, "Mike and his wife are greedy people."? Congratulations, you've ruined my day. This is so untrue and hurtful. You don't know me or my wife. You have no idea how much of our time and money we donate to our community, to those in need, to veterans, to schools every year. I may be a lot of things, but greedy isn't one of them.

"They have a very unfair makeup/cancellation policy." Actually, I believe our makeup policy to be just about the most fair I've seen in the music lesson business. If your lesson falls on a holiday that we are closed (Ex. July 4th) we PRORATE that month and you actually do not pay for that lesson. If you need to cancel a lesson, we only ask to be notified by the night before. If you do need to cancel on the same day of your lesson we pay our teacher for the lesson, so you would not be able to make it up.

"The teachers are always fully booked." This is not exactly true, but we do our best to keep their schedules pretty full. Perhaps if our teachers weren't so amazing they may have more openings?

"They offer substitutes." This is true. If your teacher is sick or on vacation we will have a substitute. When I was a kid taking guitar lessons, I would show up once in a while and there would be a substitute. I would actually be excited to learn something brand new and different from a new instructor. I realize that some kids and parents prefer not to have substitutes. Not a problem. All you need to do is let us know you don't want a sub and we will always let you know if/when your teacher is unavailable and we will reschedule your lesson.

"Parking stinks." I can't really dispute this one. The parking lot is a bit small for our growing business. We're working on possible solutions and will let everyone know when we find an answer.


I was touched by his vulnerability, his admission that he wasn't perfect, and the dignified way in which he explained himself and addressed the complaints. I want to meet this guy, I thought to myself, and decided I'm going to Mike's Music.

Later that day, I stopped in at Mike's. I picked him out right away – a hardworking guy running a business, saying hi to customers, stocking shelves, and answering questions from his employees.

I went over to him. "Mike?"

"Yep. You are…?"

"I'm Shlomo Horwitz."

"Do we know each other?"

"Sort of. I read the Google review about you."

"Which one?"

"Ummm – the one where they called you greedy."

Mike was taken aback.

"What?! That review gets me so upset. I was just looking at it today!"

"I know, and I totally understand that. But the way you responded to that negativity is what brought me here. I thought you were so dignified, and I sensed that you were in the right."

Mike couldn't believe it. "Larry!" he shouted.

Larry looked up from behind the counter. "What's up?"

Mike pointed to me. "This guy is here because of the BAD review!"

I was so happy to give Mike the business (and not because he gave me a 10% discount for coming). My heart went out to Mike. Someone wronged him unfairly and plastered it on the internet where it now resides forever. This could have been devastating to his business.

He didn't respond and claim he's perfect and he's a gem of a human being, and that his store and policies, parking, etc were all fantastic. He admitted that he wasn't flawless and that certain things need fixing. But he also elegantly explained that certain perceptions the reviewer had were mistaken.

It made me think of the effects of lashon hara (negative gossip) and the ability to destroy someone's reputation by using the latest technology. I wondered how often I fell into the trap of believing something hurtful just because I saw it in writing.

Mike was vulnerable and honest, and I found that so rare and refreshing.

Maybe this is a reflection of how God views us when we approach Him this Yom Kippur. He doesn't want us to paint a false and flattering picture of ourselves. We need to confront our flaws and faults.

But He also doesn't want us to put ourselves down needlessly and feel worthless. He wants us to be honest. He wants us to recognize our triumphs and successes, too.

And if we are honest, perhaps He will appreciate us so much more. After all, honesty is the critical foundation of a relationship. How much more so in a relationship that lasts forever – between us and God.

September 24, 2017

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 9

(6) Jaya, October 3, 2017 10:50 AM


What a great article ! We have all experienced unfair criticism at some point in our lives but often don’t know how to handle it . This is a poignant example of a perfect response . But to be able to do so we need to be careful of our conduct and right values , at the same time have the humility to acknowledge a lapse .

(5) Bracha, September 27, 2017 10:43 PM

Thank you

Thanks for the wonderful article. You seem like a great person, and So does Mike. I stay off of social media for exactly that reason- everyone feels the need to share their biased opinions with the world.

(4) Anonymous, September 27, 2017 5:28 PM

Review Services, I.e., Yelp

Three of my friends have had very successful businesses, until Yelp entered the game. I'll start with the results first: when a business accumulates a few neg. reviews, Yelp calls and offers their protection service for a sliding scale amount starting around $3,000./mo. to get rid of bothersome reviews. They call regularly leaving reviews as old as 3yrs in the mix to help est. a neg. score so the proprietor will by the protection service. If you are well-spoken and have a few ideas on how to deal with this problem, they may remove the bad reviews that are old or found to be untrue. One business receives customers via an intermediary service, clearly identified as such when placing an order or asking a question. Explaining that the problem was not originating from your business and, therefore, shouldn't count in the score falls on deaf ears. The greater the number of neg. scores, the more likely the proprietor suffers a decline in business. Competing businesses may create fictitious reports to gain advantage over the less aware business. There does not seem to be a universal solution where a business is being decimated by neg. claims has any recourse.

The point, I guess, is to reinforce the need for additional validation of scourging comments that hamper people's businesses. I no longer use Yelp for decisions. It might be an indicator, but if reports or reporting patterns seem a bit suspect, I may ignore completely or go to other sources for cross validation. In sum, old tricks are the same as the new tricks -- they just might take a different form. Thanks for listening.

(3) Rachel, September 26, 2017 11:47 PM

Why bother with online reviews?

This is a nice story but I don’t understand why anyone bothers reading online reviews. I wish the author had addressed this issue. Also, there is no follow up with the writer of the negative review, so there’s no way to tell if her complaints were justified.

Shlomo Horwitz, September 27, 2017 9:26 PM

replying to Rachel

Hi, Rachel.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my story.

I take online reviews with a large grain of salt, since they could very well be a vendetta. That said, I think there is a limited place for them. For instance, I once almost stayed at a hotel, but did not when I read a review that showed pictures of mold and disrepair. Had I ignored the online review, it could have been unpleasant. But for me, the main thing is to see if the business owner replied, with an apology, or, as happened here, with a justification. In the case of the hotel, that didn't happen.

A doctor recently told me that for her, online reviews are even worse, since doctors are prohibited from giving specifics, due to patient confidentiality. I therefore take those with a larger grain of salt.

As far as the negative reviewer in Mike's case, I feel that Mike addressed all of her points fairly. If she had anything further to say on the matter, she could have done so by adding another review.

Thanks again for the questions.


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