Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Staff, Stores Hurt by Online Complaints; Owners: Comments Are 'Not Helpful in Any Way'

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

Staff, Stores Hurt by Online Complaints; Owners: Comments Are 'Not Helpful in Any Way'

Article excerpt

Scott Kovacevic

Reporter

scott.kovacevic@gympietimes.com

SOCIAL media has given the world its voice but Gympie business owners say that has a come at a serious price.

Business complaints are nothing new but a growing trend of airing them in an online forum is leaving experienced staff in tears and forcing some owners to explore legal action.

In the process, the city's stores are put at risk.

"It's not helpful in any way," Stacey Lowe said.

"As a community we need to be mindful of our local businesses."

As the owner of the Royal Hotel, Ms Lowe said the level of invective had become severe.

"It's gotten quite personal and we've had to pursue it legally," she said.

It was causing damage to more than their business too.

"It does get to staff members," she said.

"People have got a lot of stresses in real life."

Action Ford owner Peter Allan has first-hand experience of this.

He said one long-time staff member and well-loved long-term member of the community had been "left in tears" over comments on social media.

"The staff are the ones feeling it," Mr Allan said.

It was a practice he said amounted to cyber-bullying - but while this was a huge issue in schools, Mr Allan said the impact on adults was flying under the radar.

"When it comes to adults there doesn't seem to be any support for that," he said.

Worse, many sites were happy to let the posts remain even after they had been disputed. But even the ones that were removed left a mark.

"The initial post is still very personal and very hurtful to staff," he said.

He understood that not every business dealing would go smoothly but the growth of social media had changed the dynamic - and not for the better.

"They have a right to complain but in the good old days people would come in and sit down," Mr Allan said.

"Now they don't even contact you, they just want to give you a spray."

In doing so, customers were not only attacking the company but in some instances taking away their ability to respond.

Welcome Home Rentals owner Kylie Best said this was the case when it came to property complaints. …

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