First-Time Yelper Gives 1-Star Review Because of “Ugly Generic” Pizza Box

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 01/2/2014

Ok, I’ll take the bait. The pizza at Lincoln Tavern in South Boston is very good. I know because I enjoyed a few free slices that the good folks at Lincoln donated to volunteers when they hosted a tremendous charity event a few months ago.

I’m not sure what vacant, rookie Yelper, “Nikki R.” thinks about the pizza at Lincoln because the twit didn’t mention it in their 1-star review, but they did mention the pizza box:

“was SO disappointed last night when i got a pizza to take home and it was in an ugly generic box.. what?!?! what happened to the lincoln pizza boxes? everyone loves walking home with a lincoln pizza box and everyone knows where you got it from. hm”

The post reminded me of comments made on Eater Boston by a guest who attended a free, pre-opening, ‘friends and family’ night hosted by one of the Boston area’s best restaurants:

“Tried ribelle tonight and was not impressed. Loud, weird paper over windows. Not a larger enough menu selection for vegetarian or kosher diners. I won’t be going back.”

The “weird paper” the anonymous ‘friend’ or ‘family’ member was referring to, was brown paper taped over the windows because the restaurant was closed to the public!!

I sent Yelper Nikki the following direct message:

“Do you really think it’s fair to give a restaurant 1 star because they ran out of pizza boxes? Yelp drives people to or away from restaurants, and obviously 1-star ratings can have a detrimental impact on restaurants. If you owned or worked at Lincoln Tavern, would you be amused by the 1-star review?” (I’ll update if they respond.)

Maybe it’s a ruse, or maybe Nikki is just looking for a little attention, but restaurant workers have a right to be frustrated and angry when anonymous dimwits fuck with their livelihood. It’s not funny.

Eater National recently ran a piece about Anthony Bourdain’s interview by Amazon’s David Blum for a Kindle Singles Interview. The piece included a comment from Bourdain about Yelp:

“Some chefs borrow money, they do everything they can, they kill themselves, it’s the culmination of a career working 100 hours a week or more. They finally open a place and within eight minutes of opening, some asshole has posted on Yelp, ‘Worst meal ever.’ You can understand why they go insane…”

Yes, we can…


18 Responses to “First-Time Yelper Gives 1-Star Review Because of “Ugly Generic” Pizza Box”

  1. Penelope says:

    A perfect example of superfluous critiquing which underscores the purpose of Yelp! the guest from hell! Someone who can never be satisfied – no matter what! She is the worst type of patron any restaurant could possible attempt to feed – because usually people of this ilk have no idea about dining. My advice to her is, “do us all a favor Nikki…and eat at home from a trough.” A receptacal far more appropriate to your kind.

  2. Frederick says:

    I had assumed it was just a joke. Surely not even the most entitled millennial in Boston could possibly be that self-absorbed and delusional? The review sites like Yelp, Urbanspoon, and TripAdvisor could certainly do a better job at limiting the exposure these of these narcissists. Perhaps an algorithm similar to Google’s PageRank? Something that incorporates word choices, length of review, frequency of review, and even hidden data like IP addresses.

  3. Andy says:

    Yelp cultivates these sorts of reviewers so they can dangle the carrot of removing the crap reviews in front of people to extort them into buying the yelp advertising packages.

  4. Scott says:

    Despite Nikki’s review, the law of averages helps out here: Lincoln Tavern has a solid 4 rating with mostly 4 & 5 star reviews. When I use Yelp, I look at that first, and the 4 stars would encourage me to try the place. I’ll browse through some of the lesser ratings and see why the place wasn’t rated well. I wouldn’t give any weight to Nikki’s review.

    Maybe I’m unusual, but I’d 100% discount a review like this — whether looking through reviews individually or as part of the aggregate rating.

    Now, if there were a LOT of 1 star ratings and for similar, consistent reasons… that would be a bigger issue. But that’s not the case here.

    Perhaps you could try some humor and offer to give Nikki a dozen extra Lincoln Tavern boxes next time she places an order?

  5. Ezra says:

    Hey Frederick, why’d you bring millennials into this? I can tell you right now, I work in restaurants, and the “millennial” guests aren’t usually the self-absorbed, entitled ones. You gotta grow into that stuff. What if… You’re delusional…

  6. Big Louie says:

    We’ve run into this type of Yelper several times — it’s neither about food nor service but some other, ancillary thing that we’re “supposed” to have or “supposed” to do.

    It’s actually damning with faint praise — Nikki’s message is that Lincoln Tavern is a status location and she enjoys toting the box which discloses to the world that she shops at the oh-so-hip Lincoln Tavern for her pizza. Boy, she’s pissed off that she parted with the cost of a premium pizza and failed to get the premium box.

    Perhaps this woman also visited Tiffany and asked for a $20 replacement clasp — and a blue box, bag and gift wrapping. Perhaps she visited the cosmetics counter and bought a Revlon lipstick — and insisted on getting the Clinique bag.

  7. I agree with you and Bourdain – it’s total insanity that some ridiculous Yelper thinks they have the knowledge/insight/sensitivity/palate,etc. to be a ‘critic.’ Their personal opinion of a meal’s worth can damage a chef’s business, destroy their dream, and more – not fair, not good and NOT acceptable – I’d tell them to think before they Yelp – think about the passion, the inspiration, the desire that drove that restaurant owner to create an establishment. Think about how your stupid, thoughtless and ridiculous comment about a pizza box is going to impact that – does anyone take these kinds of remarks seriously? I totally hope not.

  8. p.mac says:

    Poor Nikki, lugging home a hot pizza in a snow storm… Too bad that Mother Nature doesn’t get Yelp reviews for generic inclement weather. How petty. Such a cheap shot. No mention of the great pizza in the box. She should be ashamed of herself.

  9. Cappy says:

    The bigger picture is that these types of people aren’t seriously reviewing a place. They have an imaginary audience whom they are attempting to make laugh. “See how hip I am?”

    These witty people who think it’s funny to shit on an establishment don’t think much, let alone think about what giving a restaurant a ONE star review does.

    That’s why people like Patrick need to point it out. It isn’t funny. It hurts a business and while we’re at it Fuck YOU! I have no problem saying that to these entitled clueless empty headed DB’s.

  10. p.mac says:

    Cappy, Those of us in the biz all know this, through and through. Nikki’s review is nothing short of childish. These trouble makers should stand up and make their faces known. Otherwise, they are no more than faceless snipers, ready to drop shit bombs on anyone that they choose to, otherwise they are playing one handed poker in a game where they will always win, in some tiny way.

  11. What amazes me again and again and yet again is how much time people have on their hands. I wish I had so much free time that I could get worked up over the box my food was being delivered in. What has happened to us and our culture when we are so spoiled and entitled that every detail of every little things must meet and exceed our expectations every single moment of our days.
    I was waiting for my two shots of espresso over ice in Starbucks the other day and I could not believe what the customer ordered in front of me. A drink with 5 major expectations. Two shoots only of the flavor, a wee bit of whipped creme. I guess I just wonder if we have become such a society that we have to demand whatever our whim is at all times. Tiring.

  12. Youji says:

    The world is getting too small too quickly for those people to catch up with real info and knowledge about food. Example: they have no idea that traditional Tokyo style shoyu ramen is way saltier than any ramen in Boston. When I was a kid, I was yelled by my girlfriend because I always finished the soy sauce flavored salt water which we would NOT supposedly finish.
    Thank you Patrick.

  13. lala says:

    im not saying the customer is 100% right, but if the pizza box is all she cares about like she explained in the review, i think this was def 1 star experience for her. if you are the owner of the restaurant and you just assume that everyone only cares about the food then you are wrong. maybe people just really care about other little things. in this case, she clearly stated: “everyone loves walking home with a lincoln pizza box and everyone knows where you got it from”. you cant just say someone is ridiculous if you just cant understand her perspective.

    to give you another example: i go to this japanese restaurant for lunch all the time, not because i love their food more than other places, it’s because they have chocolate mints i can grab on my way out of the restaurant. it might sound ridiculous to you, but i really really care about these chocolate mints and i think its the best part of my lunch. if one day they no longer have these chocolate mints, i probably will be very disappointed like this person.

    there are all kinds of people out there. you dont have to understand them all, but at least respect their opinion.

  14. steve says:

    Lala, I personlly think your reasoning for justifying the poor review is flawed.

    If I go to get my car serviced at the dealer, and I think the coffee in the waiting room is not hot enough, or their wi-fi is out for 20 minutes, you think I could give the place a subpar rating because my total experience wasn’t great? I think people go to check the review to see if the service department does a good job at fixing the car.

    By the same token, if she got a pizza box with the place’s logo, and it was raining and the box got soaked, should she complain that her pizza buying experience was not good and give the place another 1 star review?

  15. Burn'n says:

    This is my all-time favorite yelp review and sums up what I think of that community as a whole.

  16. David says:

    I think that yelp should require:
    – a real name for reviewers
    – a real email accessible only to the business they are commenting about
    – a track record (i.e. do they only post bad comments about Lincoln Tavern…do they ever post good comments)

    A real name allows for accountability for their statements (its easy to talk bullshit if no one knows who you are)

    A real email (for business owners only) allows for establishments to try to “reach out” and make amends for a poor experience.

    A track record allows everyone to see if you are simply an imbecile, or perhaps the hated competition of a rival restaurant.

  17. Willy says:

    a simple up/down voting on each review (a la barstool, yahoo and tons of other comment sections) would do the trick. reviews with overwhelmingly negative votes, like the ridiculous pizza box one would surely get, can be flushed out by yelp editors.

  18. Mort says:

    I think the worst thing the ignorant self-absorbed “critics” conclude in nearly all the 1-star reviews is that the food “had no taste / flavor.” WTF does that even mean? If it needs salt, say it needs salt. If you would prefer it hotter/spicier, then say say so. Using the phrase “it has no flavor” makes you sound like a fucking idiot. Watching the Food Network doesn’t make you a restaurant critic.

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