|Updated: 6/13/2012 10:55 pm
||Published: 6/11/2012 5:41 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The next time you jump on your phone or computer and leave an online review for a company, be warned: you might get a phone call or email from the business asking you to take it down!
For Eric Winick it all started soon after he left this mixed online review for a restaurant. He raved about the food, but with a fidgety two year old in tow, he was frustrated dinner took an hour to be served.
"I said in the review that they had taken a ridiculously long time to bring the food," Winick says.
He was surprised to get an email from the restaurant's owner asking him to take it down.
"He said that something along the lines of 'we're trying to make a go of it in this area, we all have families to feed' and sort of trying to prey on my sympathies a little bit," Winick says.
More and more businesses across the country are reaching out to customers who leave bad reviews and they're not always trying to make amends.
Sometimes things get nasty.
In an extreme case things got hot in the kitchen for an Atlanta restaurant earlier this year, when it launched a Facebook and Twitter campaign identifying a customer who left a bad review, and the food fight went viral.
Social media expert Patrick O'Malley says the effect web posts now have on companies can make or break their reputation.
"A single person can now go home and get on Facebook and tell 500 or 1000 people what they think of your restaurant," O’Malley says.
Mark Abernathy owns Loca Luna in Little Rock and says online reviews are a good one stop shop for customers.
"Well they're here to stay. So for good or bad, we're going to have to accept that," Abernathy says. "The downside is that there is not enough control. Anybody can write whatever they want and it doesn't have to be true."
Abernathy says he saw a negative review for his Loca Luna restaurant and did a little research. He found that reviewer provided seven negative reviews on Little Rock restaurants all on the same day.
The impact is immense.
A Harvard Business School study found that a one star increase in a businesses' rating on the online review site: "Yelp" leads to a five to nine percent boost in revenue for independent restaurants.
The founder of freshdiet.com Zalmi Duchman is among the business owners who have made the request to remove reviews.
He explains to customers how damaging negative comments can be and asks them to remove them.
Sometimes it doesn't work, but sometimes it does.