Orchard Road cafe Grain Alley defends ‘robust’ response to negative online customer reviews

SINGAPORE — A cafe in Orchard Road has hit back at accusations that it bullies customers who leave bad reviews, saying it responds to critics who act badly towards their employees.

Grain Alley at Orchard Central shopping center has also defended its practice of offering a cup of coffee to customers who leave positive reviews online, arguing it’s an expression of appreciation rather than a bribe. de-wine.

The cafe has come under scrutiny on social media after an April 23 post on online forum Reddit drew attention to its sometimes scathing responses to negative reviews.

In a response last year, Grain Alley allegedly told a reviewer to ‘take a shower, you smell’ in response to a one-star review of the restaurant’s policy of not allowing customers to work on their laptops. or their digital tablets while visiting its premises.

In another response to criticism of the restaurant’s prices, Grain Alley alleged that the reviewer reduced its rating from three stars to one star and suggested that the reviewer had “never succeeded in his life”.

Across three posts to the cafe’s Instagram page on Friday, April 29, a Grain Alley staff member responsible for responding to reviews, who identified himself as “Joe”, said the negative reviews did not mention the poor behavior of the clients.

“While my responses may be solid, I have taken into consideration what customers have written online and how they have treated our (staff) in person,” he said.

“Some customers feel this sense of misplaced power over service personnel, which has led to frequent abuse, ranging from oral to physical.”

Joe described a visit to Grain Alley by five customers on April 23 which he said sparked controversy over the cafe’s response to negative reviews.

The cafe had provided free drinks to the party as one of them celebrated his birthday, he said.

However, each of them then left a bad review, and one of them taunted the cafe to respond with their rudest response, he said.

“After that, I replied to them asking if they each had ever given a good review when they were in a group or if such collective action was only for bad reviews. Apparently they were even more offended by this question,” Joe said. .

“Not having the courage (and) moralto approach us directly, the attacker hid behind a computer screen and went to a few forums to invite fake reviews for us.”

Grain Alley said Google administrators removed “a few dozen” fake reviews and are now identifying more.

The cafe also defended its practice of offering customers who leave positive reviews a cup of coffee, describing it as an act of appreciation.

Joseph P. Harris