Report Card on ReviewerCard: F-
By: Patrick Maguire
Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame
[This post is long overdue, but I couldn't let this issue go by the boards without addressing it.]
It was only a matter of time. Until now, a handful of ill-informed, entitled assholes would drop hints, or direct threats, to service industry providers, about negative online reviews if they didn’t get preferential treatment. [Hello, 'elite' Yelpers.] The epitome of entitled arrogance and douchebaggery has now reared it’s ugly head in the form of a faux black Amex card called the ReviewerCard, that some customers are plunking down before engaging in a service industry transaction.
The premise? Blackmail. Despite anemic PR attempts to disguise it, that’s what it is, a modern-day sword of damocles, with cardholders threatening service providers who don’t play along with their ill-conceived, disingenuous schemes.
Thanks to David Lazarus from the LA Times for exposing Brad Newman, a self-proclaimed, “lifetime entrepreneur.” Here are some terrific quotes from Mr. Lazarus:
This is, of course, wrong on many levels and is an example of how the culture of amateurism that was once one of the Internet’s more endearing qualities has become a free-for-all unburdened by any thought of ethics or moral integrity.
Newman hopes his ReviewerCard will become as influential as the American Express black card — a totem of the bearer’s clout and achievement.
I can only hope that businesses see it for what it is: a shameless bid to extract personal favors under threat of Internet ruin. I can only hope they politely inform ReviewerCard holders that they’re entitled to the same treatment as all other customers.
On January 24th, I sent the following message to the ReviewerCard website message center:
My name is Patrick Maguire. I write a blog advocating for service industry professionals. I’d like to interview the founder of ReviewerCard for a blog post I am working on.
On 1/31, I received the following response from Brad Newman:
Hope all is great. My bad for the delay in responding, as we’ve been overwhelmed with interest in the ReviewerCard. Are you still writing a blog piece? Here is a release that went out this week:
Let me know if you’d like to speak or email any questions.
Here are some highlights/quotes from the press release Brad sent me:
Entrepreneur Brad Newman originally created ReviewerCard, a membership card for active online reviewers, as a way to give consumers the rights they deserve and uphold the standards of the service industry worldwide.
Hotels and restaurants gain business as a result of positive online reviews…, but Newman has always felt that reviewers should be rewarded, too. With the ReviewerCard, businesses are made aware that the cardholder is a prominent reviewer while helping the customer obtain the best service possible.
“This card is not intended for freebies, but rather to insure the experience goes seamlessly for everyone.” [Newman]
Newman has decided to make the cards free to those who pass the extensive selection process instead of charging the original price of $100.
“This venture was never about making money, but for reviewers to experience more joy around the world.” [Newman]
On February 8th, I sent the following response to Brad:
Brad- Thank you for responding. Yes, I’m going to publish a blog post. Here are the items I’d like you to respond to:
#1- As a service provider, and customer, I believe the ReviewerCard is tacky, obnoxious, and a really bad idea. Flashing a ReviewerCard is akin to bribing or blackmailing merchants, and a means of attempting to extort preferential treatment and reduced costs.
#2- Do you understand why many people, myself included, feel that your ReviewerCard fuels the arrogant sense of entitlement that is pervasive in our world today?
#3- You were quoted in a recent LA Times piece by David Lazarus stating that, “If a restaurant brings me free quesadillas and gets a good review for it, what’s the harm?” In the 1/29/13 release you sent me from Business Wire, you stated that, “This card is not intended for freebies…”
#4- Extorted ‘pay-for-play’ removes objectivity from reviews. If a consumer flashes a ReviewerCard, receives preferential treatment, then writes a “5-star” review, how does that reviewer have any integrity or credibility?
#5- The old adage about any press being good press is bogus. As you can tell by the flood of horrible press you’ve been the target of, most people, including me, think the ReveiwerCard idea is disingenuous, and that you, and anyone who flashes the card, is a scumbag. Why don’t you just admit that the ReviewerCard was a really bad idea, and abandon the project?
I look forward to your response. Thank you-Patrick
Obviously Brad wasn’t enamoured by my scumbag comment, or compelled to reply to my questions and comments. He never responded.
The ReviewerCard is a vehicle for amateur, anonomyous online reviewers to leverage their arrogance, and threaten service industry providers. It’s the last thing we need in this era of pervasive entitlement.
If you agree, please tweet this link, and share it on facebook. Thank you.
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