Saturday, 6 April 2013

Look, it's my opinion, not yours!

Yesterday, I got a direct message on TripAdvisor with regard to one of my previous reviews (the review of the Dee-Em B&B on Mull that we stopped in last October). This is the first direct message I've ever received on TripAdvisor.
The message itself made it very clear that whilst Wendy and I had pretty much enjoyed our stay at this particular B&B, this person certainly had not.
'I am amazed you had such a good stay. The never-ending instructions in the room were tedious, we are 46 years old, not 6. The woman, who is a very weird character indeed, slightly disturbed if you ask me, was really rude when we returned to change wet clothes. She said "you have b and b,; we do not expect you here during the day". Silly cow!
Glad you had fun, but walking through their lounge half dressed was ridiculous. The en suite room should be rented out not the spare room.
Total crap compared to where else we have stayed.'

As you can read...not a happy bunny at all. In fact, for the purposes of this post, we'll call them Mr Unhappy Bunny.
Having wondered about whether I should respond to this message, I eventually decided to do so.
Well, if only to make the point that the individual who had gotten in touch with me should share their thoughts on TripAdvisor as I had done. That is what it's for, after all.
Oh yes. Just to clarify at this point - my original review (for which I gave 4 out of 5) stated the following:
'First point to make - the one double bedroom (reasonable size, comfortable and warm) is directly off Peter & Janet's lounge, and you have to walk through the lounge to get to your private bathroom. That may not be to everyone's taste.
Second point to make - Peter and Janet are the most welcoming hosts and it is precisely the fact that you are staying WITH them that gives the whole experience a quirkish charm.
Breakfasts are excellent, especially as you can sit and talk to Peter about your plans for the day whilst he prepares your cooked eggs, bacon, etc., and make use of his excellent knowledge of the wildlife on the island.
The B&B is only a short walk from Craignure where food is available at the Craignure Inn (but take a torch in winter as the road is unlit).
If you are willing to accept that you are being invited into someone's home (as opposed to just staying in a room attached to their house) and your willing to engage with your hosts, then you will have a really enjoyable stay.
Oh, just a warning to anyone allergic to cats; there are three of them!'

I received a response from the Mr Unhappy Bunny today, stating that they had indeed put their comment on TripAdvisor...and really, that should have been that. Mr Unhappy Bunny comments on their experience; I comment on ours. That's the whole point of TripAdvisor.

Unfortunately, that isn't where it ended.
You see, the problem was the title of their comment:
“Astonished at the November ''excellent'' review!”
Now I don't have a problem with anyone putting forward an alternative viewpoint to my own; in fact, it is inevitable given that people are different (higher/lower expectations, greater/lesser willingness to accept things, etc) and the circumstances of their stay will be different as well.
What I do, however, have a problem with is someone inferring that my review is either incorrect or in some way less than honest.

So, Mr Unhappy Bunny, let's get two things absolutely clear.
Firstly, it can't be incorrect because it is my opinion! It's a judgement, numb-nuts, not a mathematical equation!
Secondly, if for a moment you are implying that my review is anything other than a balanced view of what we experienced, then you can either come and say that to my face (in which case I'm likely to slap yours very hard, and not in a girly way, I assure you) or you can kiss my hairy arse!
Needless to say, my direct message response to them was a lot more...diplomatic.

I've not had any further reply from them, and I doubt I will get one.
In fact, maybe the wording of the title is simply a genuine mistake on the part of Mr Unhappy Bunny and that no offence was intended. If it is, then fair enough.
However, I suspect it isn't...and in that, I find myself wondering if there is a little bit of a warning to be had here for us all.
TripAdvisor encourage contributors to provide genuine appraisals of the virtues and faults of those places where they have spent their hard-earned cash. I, like many others, use those appraisals to guide and inform my decisions of where to stay and where to eat (I certainly don't take all the ratings and reviews as absolute truths - who in God's name does?)
I like to believe that most people are, like me, eager to share with others that which they thought was good, and to warn others about that which they thought was bad. I guess you could call it a form of good citizenship.
But, if we begin to think that our opinions, honestly expressed and shared with all the best intentions, are likely to be criticised, questioned, lambasted or (and it will surely happen one day) used as the basis for a compensation claim or other form of litigation by a disappointed holidaymaker or diner whose experience they did not deem to be as 'excellent' as our own, then I begin to question whether the sharing of my experiences is really worth the trouble.

For now, I'll continue to make my comments as honestly and genuinely as I have in the past. But should I get another direct message from some disgruntled moron who seems intent on blaming me for their bad holiday experience, or intent on arguing the toss about whether their impression of someone is different from my own, then contributions to TripAdvisor from yours truly will quickly become a thing of the past.