Need Advice...tell Me To Take High Road, Right?

Business By Pebbles1727 Updated 28 Sep 2011 , 2:23am by costumeczar

Pebbles1727 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:27am
post #1 of 46

Ok, you all... I got a situation that I really don't know what to do about. There is a local bakery, owner of which seems to take personal offense to me. I only met her once by accident actually, and during that time she accused me spying on her business and sending my husband in to her establishment to take photos icon_eek.gif , which of course I haven't done either. My business is custom work only and I do not have a store front, "spying" on her business is completely illogical and unnecessary. She now follows me over the internet and rates my business in a negative way, without actually being a customer or ever having placed an order with me. I had to remove my listings from couple of the sites due to her actions. Now, she is going after my other listing....what in the world do I do? Take a high road and hope karma bus makes around to her sometime in the future? Or is there something I can actually do?

45 replies
pixiefuncakes Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:58am
post #2 of 46

She sounds like a bully and sometimes the best way to deal with bullies is to confront them. Gather your thoughts and write a mental script and go and see her, try and remain calm and question her about her motives. It may be all it takes.
Good luck

myslady Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 11:06am
post #3 of 46

She is going after you because you are her competition. If she is posting bad reviews about your business contact the site and dispute the review and let them know she hasnt been a customer of yours. Dont let her tatics stop you from advertising.

EdieP Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 11:27am
post #4 of 46

You can always threaten to sue her for slander. Although to be honest, I do not know why people would do this unless they are insecure in their own craft. I hate this is happening to you, I know it is frustrating and hurtful. I would try and go talk with her and see what or why she is doing this to your business, just be open and honest with her, and if she is not willing to stop, lodge a complaint with your state's attorney general for unfair business practices

matthewkyrankelly Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 12:26pm
post #5 of 46

I would contact the administrators of those sites.

Calmly and simply explain what is going on. Contact each and every one.

I would then go to her and tell her that there is an investigation taking place. Remind her that her computers and devices have a specific address that can be connected to her.

Lastly, tell her you'll sue her if the investigation proves it was her.

Even if you don't get far with the administrators, it might give her pause.

Then get back into your business.

bakencake Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 1:03pm
post #6 of 46

be careful. if you dont handle this right it might just be the gas she needs to fuel the drama. she does not sound like a stable person so keep that in mind if you do decide to confront her.

MimiFix Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 1:16pm
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pebbles1727

My business is custom work only and I do not have a store front, "spying" on her business is completely illogical and unnecessary.




Business is tough for everyone and she might be in a slump. Her first thought would be that someone is "stealing" her business and since she is targeting you she may have you mixed up with someone else. I suggest you send her a brief note with your above info. And remind her that false negative reviews are not nice - and that she certainly wouldn't like that happening to her. (Sort of an implied threat. But be very nice.)

... One year during the holiday season it seemed that everyone was making gift baskets - both retail stores and home-based businesses. I saw an unbelievable amount of advertisements and knew the basket business was saturated. My bakery sold very few to walk-ins, but we had one corporate customer who ordered several hundred every year and so our shop was always filled with baskets that were going to be delivered. Looked quite impressive! Then I heard through the old grapevine that a woman who had always been in the gift basket business was complaining that her orders were way down and it must have been my fault!

cakestyles Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 1:49pm
post #8 of 46

If you do decide to confront her be sure it's her that's writing the reviews. You don't want her to turn it around and acuse you of harassing her.
Nowadays with all of these IP host sites its not always easy to track an IP address because they could be using a host from someplace across the world.

Good luck with this...maybe talk to an attorney and get their advice. It may only take a letter from an attorney to get her to stop.

cakestyles Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 1:49pm
post #9 of 46

If you do decide to confront her be sure it's her that's writing the reviews. You don't want her to turn it around and acuse you of harassing her.
Nowadays with all of these IP host sites its not always easy to track an IP address because they could be using a host from someplace across the world.

Good luck with this...maybe talk to an attorney and get their advice. It may only take a letter from an attorney to get her to stop.

MaurorLess67 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 2:44pm
post #10 of 46

Pebbles,

I had this happen to me with my orevious business (A make- your-own sundae- childrens party store)-- it was just the cutest thing EVER!!! There was a women- who first started calling me and acted like a customer- asked tons of questions- I started to get hip to her- I then was vague in my answers- a few months later she opened a store almost exactly like mine one town away- ugh!!!

Not long after that- I had the health department breathing down my neck non-stop. It was getting riduiclous- finally I broke down and was crying to one of the people at the health depatment- I couldn't understand that after 5 years of being in business- this was happening! Why was this happening?? He rold me (off the record of course) that I should look at my competitors- especially stores that JUST opened- unbelievable right??? She really caused so much heartache and upsetment- I had invested my eart and sole and ALL my money in that business an dthis women was trying to take it all from me- I'm still sick over it- I eventually closed -as the childrens party business really took a hit in this economy-

So please be careful how you deal with her- she can really cause many many problems for you- contact the websites, write rebuttles on the websites also- I would also contact an attorney as someone else has suggested- and see what your options are-

Good luck
Mo

scp1127 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 3:33pm
post #11 of 46

This is a job for an attorney. If she has assets... a home maybe, an attorney may take the case on a contingency. It is illegal to write anything for the sole purpose of a financial loss to a business. Gather the reviews, get the IP addresses (JASON HOW?), and send the info to an attorney. At least you can scare her and shut her up, especially if the amount is scary.

As far as the health dept is concerned, just be in compliance.

I'm not a nice person in situations like this. I would be vocal. I would make sure I was right, citing the IP adress information, and write a blog post, naming the business and the owner, asking my clients to please disregard the negative reviews, listing them, until this matter can be resolved in court. I would copy this to all sites where a negative review is posted.

costumeczar Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:02pm
post #12 of 46

I'm thinking the same thing about getting an attorney involved. You're not going to be able to get the IP address from forum posts or reviews unless you get the review site owner involved, and they'll likely not give it to you without a warrant.

You can use whois.com to look up who owns a website, but if you're looking for the IP address of a specific person it gets more difficult. The best thing to do would be to contact an attorney and get them to write a cease and desist letter, or whatever they're going to do, to tell her that she needs to cut it out.

You can also do a search on google for the person's username that she used when she's posting fake reviews, but if she changes her name each time it's going to be pretty pointless.

If you're SURE that it's her, then just contact her and tell her that you're getting an attorney involved, the review sites are getting involved, and she needs to stop. Then have the attorney send her the letter to show her that you're serious. That might be enough to stop her, but she does sound like a nutbag, so who knows.

I'd probably put up a blog post about it too, or mention it on facebook or something. Say that you're dealing with a competitor who's been posting fake reviews, so you'd appreciate anyone who sees a negative review to tell you. That way you get people on your side and it might alert you to new ones that she posts.

scp1127 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:15pm
post #13 of 46

I wanted to put comment and review availability for every one of my items. I am confident in my recipes and welcome any negative comments. I have a protocol in place for winning over these customers online. My web designer nixed the idea right away. She said that unlike a company like Best Buy or Amazon, I was more likely to get competitors posting rather than real customers. Even though I can review my comments before they are published, it would be a real mess trying to figure out what was legit and what was not.

matthewkyrankelly Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:18pm
post #14 of 46

My suggestion to contact websites was so that they would have her information and remove her posts.

Most web administrators have strict guidelines against these sort of posts. If the OP can demonstrate that she is a competitor and not a customer the critique posts would be removed.

Every site I have been on has specific rules against these sort of things.

Pebbles1727 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:23pm
post #15 of 46

Hi guys,
sorry for delay in response. She is not posting reviews (I really wish she would though, because I have a little more options with dealing with her then). What she is doing is negatively ranks me, so either clicks "dislike" or rates me 1 star, which affects the total ranking on many sites. On one of the sites my "approval" rating dropped under 50% in a matter of days. She actually rates me under her business's name, and her family and friends help (names/userids are same as people who leave multiple positive reviews and constant comments on her FB and review sites). It really is a no brainer to know that it's her. I brought it to the attention of the review site before, and their response was that people just don't seem to like my business apparently and was not helpful at all. I haven't been in business for very long and at this point know the names of all of my clients, majority of which are repeat customers. In my mind she is not even competition, she owns full bakery, serving breakfast and lunch and open all the time. I have a custom cake business. The only crossover are the cakes, but I target a totally different customer in a different income bracket than she does, so I'm not taking business from her at all.
I'm not sure that talking to her will have a successful outcome, I'm afraid that it may just escalate her actions. And if that happens, I'll be worried that I'll get sucked in into her "war". Neither one of us can win. I don't want to play dirty, I just don't understand what her deal is.
I don't have problems with HD, I'm in full compliance with 100 score on my last inspection. It is unlikely she can cause me any problems there.
Just sickens me that someone can be so petty...

scp1127 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 5:38pm
post #16 of 46

I absolutely do not believe in this, but you may need to stuff the box yourself, just to get the score back up. Since you have this information, I think I would dfinitely name the person and write what she is doing with the information about her relatives. Check with an attorney first, but the truth is the truth. Copy your information to sites that allow comments and again ask clients to ignore these reviews and scores until your attorney can settle it. It sounds like you have legal recourse, possibly at this point in small claims, but these cases can involve punitive damages. If you have a lawyer friend that will at least make the charge and have her served, make sure the damages you seek are substantial. I think this will stop it.

And I would never stop telling the story. I would not put her business down, I would just tell it to clients, friends, relatives, my fb page, my blog.

This is time to start a long list of posts by satisfied customers on your site. Make the testimonial page and contact all of your past clients, alerting them to your dilemma and ask for a few lines that you can use, along with names.

Be sure to combat with the positive. There is nothing wrong with relaying your awful dilemma. We all could be in this position... in any industry... with the way the web works. People will understand and think she is petty and a nasty person to patronize, possibly impacting her negatively.

If you have a good business with great clients, you have the resources to fix this. Don't ignore it. She probably really does think you spied on her. It was probably someone else and you are getting the blame.

But why would someone care about pictures? Mine are up on my site. I saved my competitors the trouble by posting my license, tax papers, insurance, photos, and all of my prices.

sugarlover Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 6:02pm
post #17 of 46

Some people need to grow up! SUch a hater!

costumeczar Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 7:13pm
post #18 of 46

What a freak...I agree that you should get all of your past clients to write reviews for you, that will help. Going public could help. I'd post something like this on my facebook page: It's come to my attention that a local bakery owner is posting bad reviews for my business on review sites, and having her facebook friends do the same. Since I have a loyal clientele, I know that none of these people have ever been my customers, and I can only assume that they're doing this in an attempt to hurt by business. If you're a past client of mine who would like to counteract some of these false reviews, go to --------- and post your experience with me.

I guarantee that you'll get people posting on your page asking who it is, what happened, etc. Post on the page that you'll send them a message, then send it privately but don't post it on your wall. That way she won't be able to say that you're harassing her.

In the meantime, take a screenshot of all of the bad rankings with the names on them, and then do screenshots of the same names posting on her facebook page. That could help establish that she's behind the fake rankings.

Pebbles1727 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 8:39pm
post #19 of 46

Thank you all! I have flagged her ratings with this last site and sighted "conflict of interest" attached it to a nice e-mail explaining the situation and putting them on notice that it may escalate as it did in the past. Will see if it gets me anywhere... Have contacted several of my customers to see if they will add to the reviews I already have to counteract the negative ratings. I decided not to post on my FB page about the situation at this point, don't want anyone taking it too far and start posting negative reviews for her business in retaliation. If that happens, she may definitely escalate to the point, that I'll have to take it legal.
Thanks you all again!

cakestyles Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 9:12pm
post #20 of 46

I'm so sorry this is happening to you...this is just terrible.

Why can't people just get along? If you need me to help you in any way just pm me the information.

Pebbles1727 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 9:42pm
post #21 of 46

Thank you Cakestyles,
do you have any ideas that others have not posted yet? Yeah, I wish we all could too, everyone else in this area seems to be courteous to each other, except for her. All of this prompted me to go do some digging and I just figured out that she has been rating negatively some other businesses in this area which she perceives as competition. I guess i'm not alone in this...

cakestyles Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 10:05pm
post #22 of 46

I really don't understand people like her. I work hard to be "business friendly" with not only my competitors but with all of the small businesses in my area. Owning a small business is hard enough, but throwing someone like her into the mix just makes it more difficult.

I think scp1127 and costumeczar have given you very good advice...I agree with them whole heartedly.

Of course we're all human and I think my first instinct would be to start rating her business poorly, but than I'd be sinking to her level so I wouldn't do that.

But, I wouldn't hesitate to ask my most loyal clients to rate my business, honestly of course. I'd even tell my best clients what was happening.

I hope this all blows over for you. Do you have a business relationship with an attorney?

Pebbles1727 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 10:15pm
post #23 of 46

Yes, I'm not going to rate her business negatively, but at this moment a few of my customers already did. Once I asked them to post a review and gave them a link, it was kinda hard for them to miss 1 star rating by another business. The first two got outraged, so now I had to go back and explain to all the rest the situation and ask them not to do that...just leave me a review and score...that's it. And yes, I have an attorney, and I think at this point, if she escalates, legal will be unavoidable.... icon_sad.gif

scp1127 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 10:31pm
post #24 of 46

Pebbles, good luck to you. You seem like a nice person. I would act professionally, but I would never forget.

If you want business reviews by some CC members, such as cakestyles, that would go a long way. Businesses can write about your professionalism, talent, and how you conduct your business in an ethical way.

If you don't have one already, you should start a blog. This may not be over. Have posts relating to your business, helpful information to brides... and then when you need to discuss a situation such as this, the platform is there to explain your impossible situation.

Pebbles1727 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 10:44pm
post #25 of 46

Thanks scp, I did not think about asking other vendors to post reviews--that's a great idea! I'd rather not have anyone from CC actually involved, as the review will not really be legit, as none of you actually know how I run my business or have any first hand experience with me. I vividly remember you calling me unprofessional before, LOL, so I'd rather stick with people who actually know know me. That's probably be the best testament of what I'm about. Thanks for wishing me luck, I'll get through it, like Dori says "just keep on swimming, just keep on swimming."

scp1127 Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 11:01pm
post #26 of 46

Well, I guess we disagreed the last time, but not this time. I apologize.

costumeczar Posted 26 Sep 2011 , 12:25am
post #27 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pebbles1727

Thanks scp, I did not think about asking other vendors to post reviews--that's a great idea! I'd rather not have anyone from CC actually involved, as the review will not really be legit, as none of you actually know how I run my business or have any first hand experience with me. I vividly remember you calling me unprofessional before, LOL, so I'd rather stick with people who actually know know me. That's probably be the best testament of what I'm about. Thanks for wishing me luck, I'll get through it, like Dori says "just keep on swimming, just keep on swimming."




If any of this is taking place on wedding wire, you can get other businesses to endorse you with a couple of sentences that say that they've worked with you and you do a good job, are professional, etc. Having people you've worked with and who know you endorse you can go a long way, especially if they're well-respected too.

If she's doing this to a bunch of other people then she's just a bitchy loon. Word will get around, but in the meantime it isn't going to be fun for you. Good luck!

BlakesCakes Posted 26 Sep 2011 , 12:54am
post #28 of 46

I wouldn't allow her to torture me any more.

I'd contact an attorney and gladly pay the fee to have him send her a certified cease and decist letter, telling her that the next step will be a legal filing citing specific incidents of slander, libel, and direct interference in my business.

I'd also make sure that it included a reference to the criminality of stalking and the hope that I won't have to take this to the police or the courts.

I'd make sure that there was a well written "line in th sand" and the moment she crossed it, she'd find herself in legal hell.

She's getting some sick joy out of this, feeding on your discomfort. Remove her meal icon_evil.gif

Rae

Pebbles1727 Posted 26 Sep 2011 , 1:23am
post #29 of 46

Ok you all, I just figured out that I can actually post a response to someone's review as a business owner, so I'm considering responding with something like this:

Dear XYZ,
I regret you have had such a bad experience with ________ (business name). I always strive to treat every customer with outmost respect and attention, and provide exceptional customer service, as well as product. Unfortunately, I do not have a record of fulfilling an order for your bakery, since I do not offer wholesale or resale services to other food establishments. I take all feedback seriously in effort to always improve my offerings. It will be greatly appreciated if you can contact me at my business e-mail or phone that we can discuss this situation and see if I can somehow rectify your unfortunate experience.

What do ya think? Too much? Anywho, it made me feel better to write it icon_biggrin.gif

Taterfink Posted 26 Sep 2011 , 2:20am
post #30 of 46

I'm coming into this a little late in the game but, I personally would not talk to her. Not in person, not the phone, not in an email.

I'd speak with my attorney (this is what they get paid for) and let him/her take the lead. If this woman is going to these lengths, I'd be afraid that any direct contact would escalate the problem ( I sometimes suffer from "foot in mouth disease". If I think it, I say it. And, this is NOT necessarily a good thing).

This isn't the good old days when we could calmly discuss our differences with each other and arrive at an amenable solution. In this litigious world we live in, one misspoken word could jeopardize everything.

I wish you the very best and hope this blows over easily. Keep your chin up. You and your customers know the quality of your work. This woman is going to hurt herself and her own business more in the long run than any damage she causes you.

You seem to have a fair dose of integrity, something she seems to lack. It'll show in her baking.

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