Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Self-Importance of Trip Advisor

TripAdvisor can be a great resource for planning an excursion, or gathering a consensus opinion of a local eatery.

It can also be a haven for self-important, self-righteous snobs.

For a spell, I'd occasionally check the forums to see if anyone was saying anything about the Comedy Walk. Way back in February, a user had this to say:

Comedy walk?
I just posted about the Groupon, now I see that they also have a deal for a "Comedy Walk" tour by Cajobri. Has anyone ever heard of them?
We are frequent visitors to St. Augustine and would be interested in trying something new.

A destination expert for the area replied with this:

1. Re: Comedy walk?
Well it would be something new. It's by ghost Augustine. I should give it a whirl so I can report on it!

He never got around to reporting on it, and that's the way things remained. Until last weekend, when a young woman had THIS to say:

2. Re: Comedy walk?
I received a gift of a 4 person pass for this weekend. We called before it was bought yesterday and they told us there would be a tour on Saturday at 8pm. Called today to reserve and the (rude) manager told us there is no tour this Saturday. No explanation, no offer of another night. Customer service definitely needs to improve from the top down.

As you can probably tell based off the first two sentences of the post, this person is lying. What really happened was that her and her mother purchased the groupon before calling to check for dates/times. Remember a few blog posts ago when I raved about how wonderful the average groupon customer is? Hooray for more evidence!

Last Saturday, I was to be out of town. Last Saturday was also apparently the last full day of this family's trip to St. Augustine. I know that my manager, the gentleman who took the call, would have offered another evening. Namely, whichever day they called, he would've suggested they instead go that night. The real kicker is that had they purchased the tickets through us, they could've gotten a full refund, because they were outside of the 24-hour no-cancellation limit. Also, my manager told me that both the woman and her mother called at separate times, and were very nasty to him.

Shocker. I found this out after I posted my reply. I'll admit, I lost my cool:

3. Re: Comedy walk?
The Comedy Walk normally occurs Thursday-Saturday. I sincerely doubt you weren't offered another day, but FYI, you can use your tickets for any other Thursday-Saturday.

4. Re: Comedy walk?
And to clarify, there is not one going out this Saturday. Occasionally, the comedian has other obligations.
Sincerely, your completely serious, business-oriented, unfunny comedian.

I know what you're thinking, "Ben, how could you be such a monster?" I honestly have no answer for that. All kidding aside, I forgot to say "sorry for the misunderstanding," which is always to imply "how can I bend over even further for your petty convenience?" This, apparently, was a problem for the Don Quixote forum-dwelling crowd.

5. Re: Comedy walk?
You weren't kidding. He does seem rude.

6. Re: Comedy walk?
Benjamin, you may want to consider saying something like, "I'm sorry for the misunderstanding." Impugning the customer does not come off well.

I always love the single, solitary monolith that is THE customer. THE hive-mind. THE entitled. THE master.

I responded:

7. Re: Comedy walk?
Alas, I should know better than to feed the trolls.

And what I was referring to was the woman who was very obviously lying about my company. I should've just stayed quiet. Don Quixote responded:

8. Re: Comedy walk?
Sorry, Ben. I'll keep my advice to myself.

And I'll do the same. But I replied with this, instead:

9. Re: Comedy walk?
It's cool. I'm very open to advice. I don't know what more you could possibly suggest based on our scant interaction, but if you came on the Comedy Walk I'd love to know your honest opinion.

But then the real TripAdvisor troll crawled out of the woodwork, and offered up this projection of self-worth. She/he had not been involved in the discussion prior to this remark, but is very active in the forums for my area. Of course:

10. Re: Comedy walk?
Sarcastic, rude, mean, not funny and not professional has been my opinion so far from this thread.
My peeps on a comedy walk in St. A doesn't look like it is happening. It is amazing how many people are
reached on this forum....forever and forever, based on my scant observation.

What do you think this person is more interested in defending, the importance/legitimacy of the opinions of forum dwellers, or THE persecuted and put-upon "customer?" I'm going with the former. The entitlement, the self-importance, the butthurt...this just oozes with it.

But you know what? I don't want money from these people. If they don't think "sarcasm" is a positive quality in comedy, they're not going to appreciate my tour anyway. If they're so easily offended, if they think I've been just so irredeemably rude, and that I've committed such a great injustice on their highest and holiest of internet forums, what could possibly make me think they'll laugh at my jokes in person?

So even though it irks me to no end that someone can slander my company with absolutely no consequences whatsoever, perhaps this forum HAS served a purpose. It's a win-win. I'll have less humorless, self-righteous twats stinking up the atmosphere on my tour, and the aforementioned twats will sleep a little more soundly feeling as if they've served some kind of noble purpose on their favorite website.

Now, if you've been on the Comedy Walk, and had a good time, write about it in the thread:

If you haven't, however, just stay away and let it die. I've done enough damage.

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