Friday, January 25, 2013

Takes A Village

To unleash the kind of virus that will swim into the nooks and crannies of their kingdom and eat away at the infrastructure until it all crumbles down upon itself leaving nothing but a huffing blast of once hot air and the stank of the truly rotten. The villagers yammering away about small portions, snooty service and lack of authenticity, (as if they knew a thing about it) while their Rome falls apart in heaping, smoldering hunks of noxious gassbagery and ego encrusted goo. Awe…sniff. 

Got a message in my inbox the other day, my much adored John Kelly posting a link on my Facebook page, one that carried with it a message, “Samantha Dugan would you please go up the road and administer a huge dope slap to this douchebag, and tell him it's from, oh, I don't know - EVERYONE?” not sure why John thought of me in the midst of his rant wherein he used choice phrases like “turd blossom” and was so irked and seething I could actually feel his spittle right through my laptop screen, but I was flattered that he thought of me and wanted me to unleash something on someone. I clicked the link, (this one here,0,2390332,full.column found myself irked as well but with the distractions of work and the catching up with my trash T.V. after my whirlwind trip to San Francisco, well I confess to letting this tiny huge story slip my mind. That was until this morning.

Woke this morning with this grinning prick on my mind. A smug crank yanking tool not only one of those self-impressed and imposed, assholes that fancies themselves a critic but one so over stuffed with self-gratification that he has gone ahead and deemed himself the King of Tards or whatever. So Mr. Entrepreneur here will take a break from his online reviewing…that no one is paying him for thus his opinion means nothing to anyone other than he and his mom who is likely hoping his little hobby here might help him find a partner so she can stop doing his extra quesadilla stained laundry, to go over your online reviewing and decide, (and come on now…like this jackhole is discriminating) if you are worthy of a ReviewerCard. One he will charge you $100 for that you can flip out at restaurants, retailers, wineries, rental car facilities and hotels that will assure them that you are just as big a jackass as your note pad, flashing camera phone and “So I have like a 54 Klout score” utterances infer. Doesn’t take Charlie Sheen to tell you, that, is, winning!

Found myself picturing the moment I actually saw one of those cards, either watching it happen while dining out or horrifically, if one should appear at The Wine Country and aside from laughing my ass off, I can’t imagine what I’d do. As a retailer I think about the fact that my instinctual reaction would be to tell anyone flashing The Card of Douche to go ye forth and procreate, and how that might not be exactly the kind of lavishly special treatment they had been banking on…how they might parlay their annoyance and pissed-offedness into a scathing one or maybe even zero star, (do they have those?) review over on Yelp which would bring our overall score down and make us look bad but…what happens when all those poor people that saw Yelp as a valuable online resource for unbiased, (never was folks, place has always been brimming with paid for reviews and sabotage by competitors, not to mention a venue for miserable fucks to go and vent about how badly they are treated…not because they’re dicks, because the place sucks. Um, huh) reviews by like-minded people, find out that the site is positively saturated with corruption and flat-out bribery? That right there is the part that bugs me the most. 

So a free quesadilla or a shaving of dollars can take a one star review to a five star one and this asshole doesn’t see the harm in that. Well, for him there is no harm, he got what he wanted and even has the added stroke of being made to feel as if his review makes any kind of difference. The problem is, for those reading his paid for, and it was paid for if free goods were given, (much like Total Wine tweeting that anyone giving them a good review should come by and get their gift, it is a paid for “review”) that review’s credibility is seriously in question. As it should be, I mean think about it, we are all busy people right? We have only so many hours to spend right? So now ask yourself whose reviews you’re reading and why they are cranking that information out? Is it to ensure you have a great experience or to ensure that they do? 

Creepy. These folks and their insidious bullshit are just creepy and I for one was thrilled to see this article in The Los Angeles Times calling out the people that are working the system of social media and taking advantage of everyone’s trust. Now I just wonder how many more will put money in this nozzle’s pocket, get their. “I’m a Giant Tool!” card and make asses of not only themselves, but those of us that might log onto a shared site that was originated to share information, outside of commercials and sales, to talk food, windshield wipers, hotel towels and goofy blonde French wine specialists…

I rarely used Yelp and now I know my interests aren’t being served there, so I won’t be traveling back anytime soon. Just makes me sad to think of the restaurants that weren’t down to be shooken down, weren’t willing to toss in a side salad or give a free dessert for some card flashing douche and now has a lesser rating thanks to the "Give me something free, I'm a very important" asswads. I think everyone, I mean those of us that would sooner die than be part of that set, should talk about this noise and help the King of Tards take down his village of idiots. Yelp had its run but it was, idealy, a site based on consumer reviews that has now been taken hostage by shake down artists and extortionists, and everyone needs to hear and know that. And just what is Yelp going to do to combat this? My guess is nothing and the poor unsuspecting schmoes that use their site are just blindly taking advice from pathetic wannabe critics and vengeful scam artists....

Business owners, we should all ban together here and speak up against these greedy douchebags, refuse them what they demand and make sure to call them out if they should try and hurt/destroy our businesses via social media because they didn't get something for nothing. I'm pretty sure we would be doing a public service.... 

Looks like a few people are already telling this jackhole what they think


Joe said...

Slimy as fuck. Man, I hate people. Cellar Tracker drives me nuts too, because I'll try to go sell a wine to retail, and some will check it out on Cellar Tracker. Well, EVERY freakin' bottle in the world gets 2.5 out of 5 stars on Cellar Tracker. I want to take the power of persuasion out of the hands of the big critics, but has that route become the lesser of two evils when faced with the will of the mob? I'm starting to think the democratic approach is really just the inmates running the asylum...

Thomas said...

I wish I were still active in the wine trade. It would give me great pleasure to physically remove from my premises idiots that flash the card.

In fact, any business person too stupid not to throw them out deserves to be taken by the shakedown.

Samantha Dugan said...

Whoa! You said fuck. You must be pissed. What the hell kind of retailer is checking Cellar Tracker?! That's as random as asking the chick at the drive-thru window where I should get my taxes done. Cannot fathom...

I was thinking the same thing. I mentioned it to my boss who did, as we have been trained to do, the whole, "But then they will give us a bad review on Yelp" to which I pointed out, "We can respond and tell everyone that this person was using one of those cards to try and extort free stuff from us, thus making him/her look like the total asshole they are"...he seemed much more on board when I said that. People man, such wads sometimes.

Ed H. said...

Well said, Sam. I did the only other thing a reasonable person could do: I gave Reviewercard a one-star review on Yelp. Heh,heh,heh.

John M. Kelly said...

Sam I immediately thought of you when I saw this for three reasons: One - I knew you would have this reaction, the same as I did, sista from anotha mutha. Two: Redondo is closer to Manhattan Beach than Sonoma, and you are more likely to get up that way than I am. Three, you are badass and I believe you would administer the dope slap. BTW - LOVED Jay Rayner's tweet!

I have to admit that I'm half convinced that this smirking douchebag HAD to realize his little card idea would cause this kind of backlash. If he's just seeking some self-promotion (hey they may be saying mean things about me, but look mom my name's in the paper!) I could understand and still feel revulsion.

But what if this is just some huge ironic put-on he dreamed up deliberately to take the piss out of these crowd-source review sites? Jeez. Respect, dude.

Samantha Dugan said...

That is too fucking hilarious, as is John's five star review. Is it any wonder why I adore you cats?!

Well babe, thanks for alerting me and getting me all tizzed out. I was on full spiral last night, should have called your ass and made you keep me company while I ranted. I am glad that I was alerted though, can you imagine my face if some wad came in and handed me their ReviwerCard for like a free tasting or discount or some junk?! Gawd, I can only imagine. Thanks again for thinking of me brother from another!

Rogue Wino said...

I just emailed this story to my boss and about five other people. Holy hell. The Yelp extortionists of the world have been emboldened.
I think I'll take Ed's lead and go write a negative review of the reviewer card on Yelp. And then I'll write a post about it

webb said...

I think you need to organize the entire staff at The Wine Country (trained, of course) to be ready if/when someone brings you are card to

1) announce in a loud voice (on the PA, if you have one): "Attention please, Staff of Wine Country, this gentleman has brought us a Card of Crap".

2) Everyone - the entire staff - laughs loudly and longly and completely ignores the idiot.

I think that would be very special treatment.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
I'd think it would be fun to have that sort of dweeb enter my business. Ostensibly, they are only warning you, not actually asking for freebies. I'd want to know where else they'd been, and who'd given them what. I'd want to know about their qualifications and credentials. I'd inquire about their psychological well-being and self-esteem issues. Then, I'd give them my business card, ask them to make sure and spell my name correctly, and toss their ass back onto the rubbish heap.

But this crap ain't new to the world. The Internet didn't invent freeloading and blackmail. There will always be creeps and cockroaches. This guy is out for a quick buck, and what seemed to him like a good idea turns out to be shit once the light of day is cast upon it.

I once saw a woman in the tasting room with some sort of badge that said, "I'm a Bigshot Reviewer on Yelp!," or something similar. I quietly told her, "You should take that badge off, you look like a jackass." When her friends laughed, she took it off.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh, I love you!

Unknown said...

Lol. I want a "I'm a giant douche" card. Not because I review things online, but because I am in fact pretty douchy.

Seriously tho, it's things like this that will give professional wine critics meaning again. I have had a few experiences with these kinds of people. First, when I was a bartender at a wine bar in San Francisco, we had about fifty yelp reviews in the first two weeks we were open, but people who probably think they are the next Eric Asimov. Now that I work at winery, we constantly have people from tiny local papers stop by the tasting room acting like they're Robert Parker.

Our general philosophy at the winery is that we will always give vip service (tours, barrel tastings, etc) to people if they are nice and we are having fun, but we don't really care if you write a yelp review. I'm not even sure if our winery has ever been reviewed by yelp. (hopefully this doesn't lead to an angry response from someone who gave us a positive yelp review)

Samantha Dugan said...

Rogue Wino,
Good! I think the more people that know about this the better. It's more than the Douchebag ReviewerCard, though it is MAGIC, it just points out how full of shit Yelp and so many of their users are and in my book, that is all good.

That made me chuckle although I did feel myself feeling bad for whomever we would humiliate so my guess is I'd never do it. Maybe...

Ron My Love,
Gawd I wish I'd been there to see that woman's face, that and the relieved look on the faces of her friends when she took her badge of douche off.

No it isn't new babe but now with social media sites making everyone a fucking expert it does seem more prolific. Or I'm just getting old and extra got a way to sweeten me up? I love you too!

Douchy? You? You always come off pretty cool and unassuming around here so you had me fooled puddin.

Much like your winery we try and treat everyone, not like a possible reviewer per se, but we try and make them feel as important as they and their business is for us. Just easier than being a dick to everyone and we really do want and need folks to come back and stuff. We've had mostly favorable reviews on Yelp, a couple shitty ones and a handful that were flat-out lies which makes me crazy. I think the idea for Yelp was a good one but too easily corruptible.

Thomas said...

My concern with so-called social media sites goes deeper than the fact that the phenomenon is a forum for idiots, which is deep in itself. I am disturbed by the lack of culture and quality that sites like Yelp (an apt name, however) and the blogging platform promotes--the more people are allowed to claim self-importance the less people will develop the skill and talent to become important in reality, let alone interesting.

Everyone is a star; therefore, the sky is filled with lights surrounding vacuums.

Samantha Dugan said...

Wait, what?! You're telling me that all those people on Facebook aren't actually my friends and I'm NOT a star?!
Why have I been doing this for 5 years if it isn't to make me more famouser and junk?

Say what you will about social media and I will agree with you, at least on some level, over half the time but when I look at this list of comments and can grin knowing that I have wrapped my arms around five of the nine or whatever people that posted them, and we are all scattered around the US, well I can't help but be grateful for the blogging and Facebook venues, without them that would never have happened. But most of those fucktards are just annoying! (wink)

Thomas said...

The key is, Sam, to establish a real connection, we met face-to-face, or was that lips-to-lips...

Seriously, those of us who do not confuse the digital world with the real world have an affinity. Those of us who believe the digital world is the real world haven't a clue.

Wayne! said...

Assholes have been trying to get free things in retail since the beginning of time. This is just an easily identifiable item to help the less experienced clerks spot them. I've had 11 years listening to people trying to boast themselves up to get free things or to avoid charges. This card is just a physical incarnation of the "Do you know who I am?" phrase.

Samantha Dugan said...

Lips on face to lips on face I believe is about how it went, plus you let me eat food off your plate without a bat of your eye, that right there is a real connection in my book. I absolutely agree with your point, hey...wasn't that how we connected in the first place? Me agreeing with you? Takes a smart woman to know who to side with in order to be allowed access to extra potatoes and stuff.

That is exactly what this card is and I just wanted to shine a little light for people to see what horseshit Yelp inspires...for those who might not be aware. Thanks for posting!

Thomas said...


When I was operating my tasting room and instituted a $1 tasting fee (refundable on purchase) a guy once complained to me about having to pay the fee. I asked him what he did for a living. He was a lawyer. I asked if he charged a retainer fee. He said that he did, but that was for starting the work. He said he gave out a lot of advice for free. I told him that I'd give him all the advice he could handle, for free, but to taste the wine that I already produced and had to pour would cost a $1 retainer.


Did I really let you eat off my plate?

Was I drunk?

Samantha Dugan said...

Yes and maybe...

Thomas said...

You have no idea how much of a breakthrough that was... for trying such a thing, people are walking this earth with fork imprints on the back of their hands.

Samantha Dugan said...

I think I suspected as much...which is probably why I went for it. Plus I think it may have been some sort of potato situation and as you know we share an affection for them spuds.

Thomas said...


I am kidding you...not about my general response to someone eating from my plate, but about the possibility that I don't remember it happening.

It was the potato situation. Without tallow, fried potatoes ain't what they used to be.

Daniel said...

Isn't it because of guys like this, for which there really is no other word but 'douche', that just like at the Olympics, you should throw out the high and the low scores? I always assume that the 5 star reviews on any site are friends, family, employees, lovers, and douche bags like this guy, and the 1 star reviews are competitors, fired employees, ex-partners, ex-lovers and douche bags like this guy.

And any review with more than two exclamation points should be automatically removed from any site. Along with all 100 point wines. Perfection? Really?
If it is so perfect how come I only get four glasses out of it?

I wish people didn't suck so much, though I suppose that is why they have to pay us to work with them.

Happy Tuesday.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well welcome! So nice to see a new name/face, (always when I am moments away from pulling the plug here thinking no one reads anymore by the way) around here. You and my husband use the same approach for Yelp, get a general idea when searching for places, ignore the super-high and super-low scores and usually while out of town. I always prefer asking a local but I guess that is just as random, like how the hell do I know if Jimmy at the Dunkin' Donuts has any taste whatsoever?

Yeah, this guy is peach and the fact that he is proud of his extortion, and doesn't see the issue with it, like from the side of people that might read his review, makes him all the more magic in my book. Thanks for joining in! (See, I only used one exclamation point. Hooray me!!)