Grandpa Webb's blog

Monday, 25 February 2013

Tell us what you think - but no complaints please

Find out more about Grandpa WebbI have just failed an exam. I didn’t know I was taking an exam at the time, but now I realise that’s what it was. All the shortcomings of my schooldays came flooding back, among them: “Read the question Webb,” and “Could do better if he tried.”

It all started after an overnight stay at a small guest house near Litchfield. I had quite a decent room, the breakfast was very good, and the owner lent me his mobile phone when mine was immobilised by the unexpected collapse of the O2 network.

The day I returned home I had an email from an organisation calling itself the eviivo guest reviews team. To my knowledge I hadn’t booked through them, but as they said it would only take a few  minutes to complete a short on-line guest review, and I had been happy with my visit, I thought I would fill it in.

No complaints, no CAPITAL LETTERS!I didn’t fill in the whole questionnaire, but I did the bits I thought were relevant and submitted it. But it wouldn’t accept my submission.

I tried Step 1 again. Each question had a drop-down box with a series of ready-made answers: What option best describes your party? -- Alone; what was the main purpose of your stay? Leisure, visiting local event; how many nights have you stayed in paid accommodation over the last year?  11-25 nights; what is your age range?  65+.

In step 2 I was invited to tick some boxes. Rate your stay – poor, adequate, fair, good, excellent. These ratings could be applied to rooms, facilities, cleanliness, staff service, friendliness, value for money, location and if applicable, breakfast quality. I wasn’t sure whether to allocate the loan of the mobile phone to friendliness or staff service. In the end I said they were all good.

When I got to this point I reckoned I had done enough. The guest house was good, I was an old bloke on my own -- what else did they want to know? I pressed submit.

A red notice appeared at the top of the page. It said: Your review could not be submitted due to the following reason(s). We value your feedback, and ask that you please edit the review and try again. (Could do better if he tried).
•    Please enter the review headline
•    Please describe your stay in the ‘Describe your stay’ field
•    Please enter what you liked about the hotel. 

I looked up the terms and conditions, which, as usual, I had ticked without reading them (read the question). They said:

•    Type something in all the boxes
•    Don’t write anything in UPPER CASE LETTERS
•    Don’t include swear words or profanities
•    Don’t include prices or telephone numbers. Write out numbers
•    No email addresses or website links.

Well I hadn’t used any swear words or profanities so far, but I was tempted. I looked at the boxes I hadn’t filled in. The first one said: Give your review a headline that summarises your stay in one sentence. You can’t simply write “OK” because these are capital letters. Anyway, this is doing things back to front. You don’t normally write the headline until after you have written the text.

The next box said: Describe your stay. Box three asked: What did you like about your stay?   Box four said: Was there anything you did not like about your stay? The next box asked: Would you recommend this accommodation to others?

There was more, but by now I could feel an attack of the Victor Meldrews coming on, so, to take my mind off the inquisitive boxes, I looked at the Frequently Asked Questions on the site.

At the end, it said this: If you would like to make a complaint about the guest accommodation please do not use this review facility … the reviews are aimed at providing praise and/or constructive criticism, and a complaint via this medium is unlikely to be addressed. Please write your comment directly to the guest accommodation.

So there you have it. I didn’t want to complain, or swear, or write in capital letters. All I wanted to do was say the guest house was OK. But I’ve never been awfully good at exams and this one was just too difficult.

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