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Consumers’ “revenge reviews” have been rising since the pandemic

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A customer in a grey shirt with spikey black hair and long sideburns looks disgusted and disgruntled while pointing toward a plate of food while a bearded waiter wearing a white shirt and grey apron stands nearby, pointing toward the food.

Despite the risk of looking like a "Chad" or a "Karen" online, nearly a quarter of customers with a serious gripe about products or services post their complaints on social media now, according to the National Customer Rage Survey. Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

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Since the pandemic, the percentage of customers seeking revenge on a company they feel has treated them badly has tripled from 3% to 9%, according to something called the National Customer Rage Survey. It should be noted that “revenge” is their word, not ours.

Nowadays, that revenge typically takes the form of public shaming attempts on Yelp or social media. But there’s more that goes into the decision to actually leave a negative review or tag the corporate handle than just not getting what you paid for.

Andrew Kiel wants to be clear: He is not that guy who regularly leaves bad Yelp reviews. You know, “somebody who has way too much time on their hands and insists on pointing out every irregularity and every issue,” he said.

But when a wing shop in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area screwed up a nearly $200 order for a big Christmas gathering, and after he got no help from the manager, he was ready to let the world know.

“There was that cathartic experience for about two to three minutes. And then there was the kind of like, am I going to come across as a male Karen, as a Chad?” Kiel said. “So then there was kind of the reviewer’s remorse, for lack of a better term.”

Even though a rising share of American consumers now look first to Facebook to whistleblow about lukewarm tacos or a bad internet connection, reviewer’s remorse is pretty common. Nearly a quarter of customers with a serious gripe post their complaint on social media now, according to the National Customer Rage Survey. 

“There is a component here of not really feeling particularly great after you’ve made some sort of public pronouncement,” said Scott Broetzmann, who leads the survey.

While companies are more keenly attuned than ever to managing their online brand, Broetzmann said only a third of customers who get a response feel satisfied.

Sometimes that’s because that response is corporate gobbledygook, but sometimes it’s just because they’re in a bad mood to begin with.

“On Fridays, there are more positive Yelp reviews,” said Josh Matti, an economist who has researched Yelp review behavior. “But then on Mondays, it’s the worst days for Yelp reviews. So people seem to be following the TGIF phenomenon.”

And on Mondays when we have to go back to work … well, let’s just say Starbucks better not screw up my latte order.

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