ilona the pest

insecurity + narcissism = awesome!

Friday, February 04, 2011

yelp reviews

i don't know why, but i felt compelled to exchange a series of messages on yesterday with a total stranger who had written a very negative review of one of my favorite local businesses.

actually, i think it's partly due to the fact that i had just read this blog post by the owner of another local business i like, SF's True Massage & Wellness, which got me thinking & empathizing about the serious impact a few thoughtless negative yelp reviews can have on a business. and also probably because i'm just naturally a busybody. :-/

anyway, here's the exchange.

his original review, rating the business one star (out of five):


Jim G. - one star

So I received a call back about setting an appointment for a haircut. The woman asks what I need done. I say haircut for short hair and if possible an appointment today. She says Tim is available at 12 noon and he charges $85 a cut. I said that I had seen a $30 discount on Yelp for first time cut. She says yes and then silence. I ask her if Tim specialized in men's cuts. She says verbatim "none of my stylists specialize"..... and then silence. I said Ok.... does that mean he cuts men's hair?? She say's yes with another silence. I said that I will be getting back to you and hung up.

I feel bad for this office and Tim in particular for having such a rude receptionist and or stylist who returned my call. I'm sure he is a wonderful stylist to which I was never given the pleasure to meet. My recent stylist moved out of the city so had there been a welcoming return call, they would have had my continued business.

Thanks for making my decision easy for my business as well as referrals.


here's our message exchange:


(me to Jim G.)

i'm not affiliated with the salon in any way, other than as a longtime customer, but i just wanted to say that i think your review was unfair, and i wish you'd consider revising it. (i'm writing to you directly only because there's no way on yelp for me to mark your review publicly as "unhelpful" or "unfair.") if you didn't even get a haircut there -- or even attempt to schedule one, from what you said -- it seems incredibly harsh to give them one star. that can have a serious effect on a business's overall yelp rating. in my six years of going there, the stylists and assistants are all incredibly nice and helpful people. one *arguably* slightly less-than-friendly receptionist does not make an otherwise truly excellent business worthy of a one-star rating.

i wish you'd think about this and consider revising or deleting your review.



(Jim G.)

Well I'm glad to hear you've had a great experience with this company. Mine however, was not. I stated in my review that I held no grudge against the stylist's themselves. The purpose of yelp is to review and encourage businesses to treat people in a fair way. If the company was that worried they would email me themselves. If you want to fight their battles then go into PR. Read the review carefully about what I stated and send me a message a little more noteworthy.



no offense, but it's not even totally clear from your review what the receptionist did wrong. you asked her a series of questions and she answered them.

i do think you're right that sometimes the receptionists there can come across as a little cold, which i agree is not a great feature for a business, especially because the receptionists provide the first impression for new customers, and that could easily turn someone off from using the business at all, as obviously happened with you. BUT, that is just one tiny piece of the experience of using that business as a whole, and it is far outweighed by the awesomeness and kindness of the people providing their actual, you know, services.

in sum: my point is just that since you didn't even end up using their services, that doesn't seem (to me) to merit the lowest possible rating for the entire business. i just think that's vastly disproportionate to what they did wrong. but, that's just according to my moral system -- maybe not yours.


(Jim G.)

well it's interesting how 3 people found the review to be useful. As previously stated, the company should take pride in customer service and admit fault when present. All that was needed was a phone call saying sorry for your experience. Simple, to the point and shows concern.



sure, but then, there's no button to mark a review as "unfair" or "petty" or "mean-spirited." oh well -- agree to disagree!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


i may or may not have a small problem with eating, body image, etc. brought on most recently by this damn wedding.

i used to be super skinny as a kid and over the years i've become more like regular thin. i haven't quite gotten used to that yet. the slight roundness & softness showing up in new places on my body seems foreign and out of place.

trying to do any kind of a diet is inherently a bad idea for a detail-oriented control freak like me. it's way too easy for me to slip into an unhealthily obsessed frame of mind about it without intending to.

i have to remind myself: this is the shape my body wants to be. we don't stay the same forever. i am awesome & hot & worth a lot more than setting records for skinniness. and my life is pretty miserable when i'm depriving myself of all the delicious foods that i love. it's definitely not worth it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

city of love

i went to paris last week. this was my first trip to europe as a grown-up, without my parents -- it's about time! -- and it was great. (i mean, duh, right?) the food was amazing, from ham-and-cheese on baguettes at every corner cafe to the one or two fancier restaurants we went to. we saw a million famous paintings and super old buildings. we saw a hilarious Showgirls-type performance at the Moulin Rouge. i got to practice my high-school french, which surprisingly came back pretty quickly even with all the newly aquired spanish getting in the way. i bought a beret.

also, i got engaged! you know, official-like, where the boy asks the girl and there's a ring and everything. of course, awesomely, the deed was accomplished atop the eiffel tower. (following in the esteemed footsteps of tom cruise and katie holmes, someone informed me today.) i love it. i think i would have been slightly disappointed with anything less cliched.

making the big announcement and talking about it with other people feels kind of embarassing and strange. yes, yes, i write a blog and use twitter regularly, but there are certain personal subjects that make me feel even more self-conscious and awkward than usual. having to talk about L-O-V-E with my parents, co-workers, and acquaintances -- even friends -- is super embarassing for me. the unavoidably public act of announcing one's engagement or marriage seems somehow show-offy and inappropriately personal. i read this post on a few weeks ago about preferring to avoid using the word "fiance," and i totally share the writer's discomfort. my betrothed and i are very happy, i assure you, and yes, i admit, we're going to get married someday in the not-too-distant future and have babies and live together happily forever. now let's talk about something else.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

prop 8 update

it was really depressing to lose in the election (and not just in CA, but in florida, arkansas, arizona...). but we're working on it. i think we have a good chance to get prop 8 overturned in the courts. it completely undermines the very concept of a constitution, and particularly the idea of equal protection, to suggest that a constitution could be amended by a simple majority vote to selectively deny important rights to unpopular minority groups. see, e.g., Romer v. Evans. i'm getting more certain by the day that we're going to prevail.

and if not, well, it'll be back to the ballot box for another round of california's home-grown brand of expensive, irresponsible direct democracy. i honestly think we can win there, too, given another year or two (or three, or four) for the shameful reality of what's been done to sink in.

if there's been one positive benefit of losing, it's that this has been a wake-up call for queer people and our allies everywhere. the recent spontaneous post-election protests have felt like this generation's stonewall rebellion. it's thrilling and moving to stand up with so many others and demand that we all get the same human rights. a vast movement across the country seems to be rising up, having realized suddenly that we are NOT considered equal citizens, and understanding for what seems like the first time how very very wrong that is -- and deciding that we are not going to meekly accept it anymore.

Monday, October 27, 2008

no on 8 campaign needs our help

the election is a week away. california's proposition 8, which would take away the right to marry from same-sex couples, is virtually tied in the polls and in fundraising. if we can defeat this mean-spirited effort to take away rights, we will have turned a massive corner in this country. as the right wing proponents of prop 8 have been saying, this would be their armageddon. if we can defeat them, they will be critically wounded and will finally have to concede that the country does not agree with their agenda to impose their religious fundamentalist values on everyone else.

but we could easily lose, and prop 8 could pass. whether we can defeat prop 8 will depend on how much money we can raise to keep our ads on the air in the next week, to reach undecided voters. the right wing groups are sounding the desperate appeal to their supporters, trying to raise millions more to ensure their win. they're extremely motivated by the idea that their children's salvation depends on this. can we rouse ourselves to be equally motivated by the urgent need to defend equal rights and protect our constitution from being sullied with discrimination? i hope so.

please help. please. yes, you. if you live in california, vote no on 8. tell your friends. volunteer. and no matter where you live, please contribute to the No on 8 campaign. this fight is so close that even a little will make a difference. you can do so here, or even right here:

Your donation:

we can't win without your help.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

blank check

this is slightly old news, but i heard barbara boxer say this on the radio earlier today and it raised my hackles all over again. if i may: A CHECK FOR $700 BILLION IS NOT A "BLANK" CHECK.

thank you.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


my friend jk and i were recently reminiscing over email about our old band -- how much we rocked, and how much fun it was. inspired, after going to the beach to cool off, i hung out at my bf's music studio for a few hours this afternoon. we recorded a cover of New York City by They Might Be Giants (with some influence from Cub's cover). [CORRECTION: i am a loser. the song was written by Cub, and covered by TMBG. so reverse that.] i was going to add piano but i couldn't figure out a good part in time. it's not super-polished, but i think it's pretty cute!

i should really play music more often. (mid-year's resolution?) it's a much more satisfying way to spend my free time than eating candy and watching reality TV.


it is so hot in my apartment it's almost unbearable. it's too hot to sleep. the thermostat says it's 90 right now (at 9:00 a.m.). okay, i'm sure people throughout history have had it worse, but i'm just not used to baking indoors like this. i had to sleep with a wet handtowel draped around me, to encourage evaporation & cooling (it's surprisingly effective).

this situation is ironically caused by san francisco's generally moderate, cool temperatures -- no one has air conditioning, so we roast the few days a year that it gets above 75. my current apartment is particularly poorly set up for ventilation -- it only has windows on one side, so there's no circulation, and those windows get baked by the sun all day. thank god we're moving in a couple of weeks! the new apartment won't have A/C, of course, but at least it has windows on three sides, and seems to be more shaded by trees. and it's on the ground floor rather than the third floor.

until then, i'm just going to have to sip ice water and go to the movies as often as possible.