How to Piss Off Customers and Guarantee a Crappy Review on Someone’s Blog

I always feel weird snapping photos in public. I realize it’s one of those things I have to “get over” if I’m a travel writer, but whipping out a camera and taking pictures on the street makes me feel like a douchesack.

When I visited my best friend in Halifax four months ago, it wasn’t exactly tourism season. Joanne, Megan and I wandered around downtown, ducking into shops and getting acquainted with the area. I refrained, mostly, from taking any photos as I didn’t want to stick out. Gingerism tends to do that to a person.

A few hours passed when I realized I should probably get some freaking content for my blog, so I hesitantly took a few on the street. Then we found a gigantic bookstore, and stepped inside.

It was a fairytale for nerds. St. John’s has one or two great used bookstores, but this was above and beyond my expectations. All it needed was a gliding bookcase ladder, and my legs would have collapsed underneath me with pleasure-shock.

I took out my camera, and took a picture from the door. I’m sure I had a huge grin slapped across my face.

Then I heard a voice.

“EXCUSE ME. NO PICTURES. NO PICTURES.” I looked at the man who had appeared to my left.

I was surprised, so I laughed nervously. Then, as I was about to apologize, he said, “I’m not kidding. If you want to take photos, you have to buy something first.” His tone was pure disgust and contempt.

The dude in question appears as a blur to the left.

The dude in question appears as a blur to the left.

I was stunned. Not only did this guy call me out in the middle of the store, but he was insanely rude about it. No polite, “Excuse me ma’am, photographs are not allowed in here.” He treated me with utter disrespect, and embarrassed me in front of a crowd.

I really didn’t know what to do; I don’t react well to criticism. My friends had bolted ahead of me, so I kinda tagged along in a daze. I looked at book titles without really looking at them. Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything.


Geraldine had a similar experience,
but she actually confronted the store about it by writing an email. The thought never even occurred to me that I should write a letter, honestly, and I feel like now it’s too late. No customer should be treated that way.

Guess what, asshat? I’m never visiting your store again, and I’ll never recommend a visit to anybody else. Give me Chapters any day over pretentious assholes.

  • June 03 2010

    Yeah for Chapters :-). Okay, I’m a little bias.

    I feel like a complete dork whenever I’m shooting in Urban areas. I’m always afraid that someone will yell at me and make a scene. I hate being the centre of attention. haha

  • June 03 2010

    What I don’t get is the guy was okay with you taking pictures if you bought something. Either you have a problem with photos or you don’t. You can’t have everything your way. Tch!

  • June 03 2010

    I did get told by a Rent-A-Cop at a mall once that I couldn’t just take pictures. Even though I pointed out people down the way who were taking pictures against a fountain. I had apparently forgotten it was Sept 11 anniversary, and me just taking pictures of buildings bothered them.

  • June 03 2010

    I can’t stand when people are rude and they work in a place that is serving customers. It is such bad business. It’s not like you were snapping an illegal shot of The David. It’s a bookstore.

  • June 03 2010

    I’ve had that so many times and it always puzzles me. I’ve been a few places where people will ask that customers aren’t in the photo and I can understand that.

    I’d love to know which store this was…they were rude, people should know.

  • June 03 2010

    Had exactly the same experience a few weeks ago when I was researching Prince Edward County. I took a picture of a cool piece of outdoor art (which would be available to photograph in off hours to anybody) and the owner comes running over to me and tells me I should have asked first. Pissed me off too as I had already mentioned him in a blog. I also didn’t buy anything.

    So much of what annoyed me too was his tone – like I’d committed a sin.

  • June 03 2010

    It’s always shocking when someone gets out of line like that. I’m not sure writing a letter in this instance would have worked, since it seems likely he was the owner or manager, in which case he’d be the person receiving your letter and would not care about your complaint, as he did not care about your business. That was a really stupid thing for him to do.

  • June 03 2010

    How dare you do something that may, in the future, improve his sales by bringing in more customers. What were you thinking!?

  • June 04 2010

    I always feel conscious when I take photos in non-tourist attractions, especially since getting an SLR as you have to stand still and use it with a bit more intent than a point and shoot (i.e. holding it up to your face and aiming).

    That reaction is shocking though! I do wonder how some businesses run with people like that about.

  • June 04 2010

    Perhaps to late for a letter, but if it were me, I’d have a hard time at least not emailing the link to your post. That fool pissed away some free publicity for this scathing write up. Nice work!

  • June 04 2010

    What the heck? It’s not like you were photographing fine art or anything! We have a strict no photo policy at my YMCA locker room – makes sense with all the naked people….what the heck is going on in this book store that is so secret?!?

  • June 04 2010

    Hi Candice,

    We started out shy photographers as well, but we take pictures wherever we go- even here where we live. I know what you mean about managers or store owners with very little respect for customers. It sounds like this has happened to many of us- poor customer service just isn’t tolerable when we have so many choices. My husband and I have written many letters over the years due to those very reasons. Furniture stores, electronic stores, online stores, Emma’s school, and even a dentist office we’ve written to! And we don’t return to those stores either. Now that we have a blog we have a few things we want to vent about as well.. just waiting for the right time. Good for you for speaking up.. business owners/managers need to know customer service still is the key to good business practice.

  • June 04 2010

    What an ass! Aren´t you glad you have a job where you don´t have to harrass members of the public all day long?! Even though it was a sneaky, and apparantly, highly illegal photo, it does look like a pretty cool bookshop! I agree with Jennifer though, what else has he got lurking behind those book shelves that he doesnt want photos of?! Nothing like a cathartic bit of blog ranting to make you feel better about it the whole thing. I´d say you´ve come out victorious! K

  • June 04 2010

    Wow, just unbelievable. Reminiscent of something that happened to me last weekend. I was covering an arts festival and was taking photos of the theater during intermission when one of the play or theater’s managers told me it was illegal to be taking photos. I showed him my press badge and it was like I was a god. He might as well have just gone ahead and gotten on his knees if he was going to beg for forgiveness that much.

  • June 04 2010

    What an ass! You should’ve told him off!

  • June 05 2010

    I get yelled at all the time, or at least get angry stares. The good thing is it is usually in Korean and I don’t understand it so I don’t care. I am also of the philosophy that I don’t know anyone there, so I don’t care what they think since I’ll never see them again.

  • June 05 2010

    What an idiot. What’s the name of the store, and perhaps an address? We’ve taken over 10,000+ photos while traveling and never had anyone say anything to us. But it’s important to be respectful in religious areas or blatantly taken picture of other peoples children.

    If any business owner ever came up to me yelling, I’d be sure to snap a picture and say “don’t worry, I’ll let everyone on the internet know what a douche bag you are. What’s your name for the record?” Well, at least I will now after I’ve thought of it a bit.

  • June 05 2010

    Three cheers for you Candice – I heartily approve of publicly pointing out boorish and unprofessional behavior when you encounter it. The soul of capitalism revolves around the concept that good service begets success, and poor service begets failure, as it should. I hope that ass sees this post – I agree with Matt, you should send him a link to your post.

  • June 05 2010

    I am going to second everyone else here and say send them the link to the post and props to you for calling them out. I have been chastised a few times in public and it’s always a tad embarrassing even when they do it nicely – what a douche.

  • June 06 2010

    I’ve totally been in that bookstore, and totally loved it. Now, after this account of rudeness, I’m totally never going again. Is he worried that you’ll steal his bookshelving ideas? That the flash will damage orange Penguin spines? I just don’t get it…

  • June 07 2010

    Shoulda told him you WERE going to buy something, but now you’re not. But I know in those circumstances you never come up with the right thing to say at the right time! You’re missing an important piece of info here. The name of the bookstore? C’mon…out with it.

  • June 07 2010

    I was told not to take pictures in a shop in Singapore once. The clerk said it was management’s orders, in case I was spying for the competition. But at least she was polite. And I already had my photo :)

    Love this bookstore though, seems like it’s old and wonderfully dusty. (Also, can’t believe I missed that when we were in Halifax two years ago). If the idiot was the manager/owner, he has a horrid business sense and probably won’t survive. So maybe he isn’t – and if so, the owner deserves to know.

  • June 07 2010

    I hate when people are rude about things like this. This man could have at least been polite and perhaps given some kind of reason as to why you weren’t allowed to take pictures. I’m not planning on traveling to St. John’s soon, but I’d like to know the name of this store so I can be guaranteed not to go in it. I work in customer service and situations like this can hurt a company’s reputation and bottom line. Even though it’s after the fact I’d still send an email, because rude service shouldn’t be tolerated.

  • June 07 2010

    oops said St. John’s but I meant Halifax. Long day.

  • June 07 2010

    ooohh I know this place. It frustrates me that they gave not only their store a bad vibe but also Halifax :( I swear we are lovely people and that guy is just a jerk!!
    I have been yelled at a few times for taking photos as well. It makes you feel like your a little kid all of a sudden and really singled out. However the last time it happened it was when Chris (theaussienomad) and I were in Copenhagen and we were in the freetown getting close to the drug dealers….. so I understood – but a guy yelled at us from across the street! If he had only given us two more seconds surely we would’ve seen the sign and put the cameras away haha

  • June 07 2010

    Wow guys, thanks for the great response! I had no idea I’d create such a public outcry, hahahaha. I almost feel a little guilty about discouraging you all from visiting, but then I remember that terrible, terrible shameful feeling and I could care less what happens to that dude’s business. I’ve never felt so disrespected in my life.

    Honestly though, I have NO IDEA what the name of the bookstore is…all I know is that it’s located on Barrington Street, on a corner. Any idea, Cailin?

    But you’re all right, of course. It’s no way to conduct business. If I had my time back, I would have reacted differently!

    And Cailin, perhaps I should have included this in my post…one of the reasons I was so stunned by the dude’s reaction was because everyone I had met in Halifax up until that point was excessively friendly, it was almost shocking. People say Newfoundlanders are friendly, but Halifaxians were AMAZING!

  • June 07 2010

    I’m glad you had the courage to speak up about it here. I know when it all goes down you’re so thrown off that you don’t really have time to make a reasonable response. Whether he’s the owner or an employee makes a difference on what to say too, and to come up with all of that in such a short period of time while you’re feeling completely humiliated is a hard thing, so at least we all got to hear about this store’s treatment of their customers somehow. I’m not planning on being in Halifax any time soon, but if I do end up there, I feel like thinking up some sick lines to throw back in response, than find the bookstore, take a picture inside and see if the same guy comes out. ;)

    • June 09 2010

      Hahaha, if you do, please snap DOZENS. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I was unallowed to take pictures…

  • June 07 2010

    Wow, that was a very rude clerk! Good for you that write about it here :) He deserves to get his action published!

    • June 09 2010

      That seems to be the general consensus! But alas, I’m too much of a pansy to alert the owner. Hehe.

  • June 08 2010

    This is the place you speak of! http://www.doullbooks.com/ John W. Doull, Bookseller
    and it’s Haligonians not Halifaxians! silly silly haha

    • June 09 2010

      Ahhhh, thanks!! Silly Haligonians.

  • June 08 2010

    I have that book Making Faces! I was a makeup artist in TV before Travel blogging. Great add for Kevin Aucoins book though:-) I love Chapters and despise rude people. It’s one thing to not allow photos, but you don’t have to be rude about it!

    • June 09 2010

      Exactly! If he had nicely explained why I couldn’t take photos, no biggie. At all. Also, didn’t know you were a make-up artist, how cool is that?

  • June 09 2010

    LOL, I’d like to see the law that would support you having to buy something just because you took a picture. Or let them go ahead and try to take your camera. Amazing. Although, like you said, even though it might have been mortifying at the time, you handled it pretty well. He probably was trying to embarass the hell out of you, so would indeed purchase something.

    As stupid as it sounds, I actually have cards with say “The CC was here…” on them and I leave them places when I get pissed off. It has a link to my blog on there. But I’ll tell you what, they’re great publicity and I’ve actually given them out to people who asked me why I was someone taking pictures…

    • June 09 2010

      Ahhh, nice idea! The mysteriosu Constant Complainer. I feel somewhat bad about this whole discussion going on without the owner being able to weigh in, hah. But not bad enough to do anything about it.

  • June 09 2010
    maggie

    I am generally pretty self concious about taking photos in public… which some people wouldn’t believe given the obcene amount of photos I take ;P But, really, I only get ridiculous snap happy when I’m surrounded by people I am comfortable with and I’m drunk. Most of the time I’m very hesitant ;P
    Anyhow, I often feel like taking pictures of stores, etc. because they look so awesome… but I am horrified of getting yelled at. I would’ve died if I had been in your spot :S (and never would’ve gone back to that store ;P )

    • June 09 2010

      Yep, same here! Even if I’m being a tourist, I still feel stupid. Hah.

  • June 09 2010

    GAH! I was reading this and thought, the same thing happened to me! And then you noted that the same thing happened to me!

    Yes, yes, it IS terrible. I’ve never understood why people at stores don’t want you taking photos. Don’t they understand that it’s good for business? That if you take photos and blog about their store, more people will go there? And how does it make sense to only let people who buy things take photos? That means that photos ARE allowed.

    The man is clearly a moron. I am so sorry you had to endure his rudeness, and you have all my sympathies. I hate that hot-faced-I’ve-just-been-scolded-like-a-child feeling. Grrrrr …

    What do you say we head back here (and to Stew Leonard’s) and take a few hundred photos before running back out? :)

    • June 09 2010

      Man, can you even imagine the reaction we’d get?! I think I’d tell them I write for National Geographic or something. Hah.

  • June 09 2010

    Fracking pathetic behaviour.

    I’m glad Cailin has outed him. Because this is what the Internet is for: democratic, ritualized global humiliation of idiots. (Oh, and the ‘communicating with fellow humans’ and ‘learning’ stuff too. Whatever).

    Why do people not understand the power of a good photo and a good blog post? Why scupper that marketing potential? (I’m delighted you’ve posted it anyway, along with a blog post title that laughs in his face). I can understand some people being this mean-spirited…..but I’ll never get how anyone can act so cluelessly.

    May he catch a scrofulating disease of the nethers.

    • June 09 2010

      Hahahaha, here, here! Ah, he’s just a grumpy old man. The next time I go back, I’ll kick him in the nads.

  • June 09 2010

    Ugh. He could have told you politely, but no he had to call out and embarrass you in front of the whole store; good for you for calling this guy out in turn. I am really self conscious about taking photos in public too by the way.

    • June 09 2010

      Thanks! And if I wasn’t self-conscious before, I’m totally scarred for life now. :-/

  • June 14 2010

    Always an adventure for you!! Love it!

  • June 19 2010

    I’ve had two of these sorts of folks in the last month! One was at the takeaway place for dinner. He ran the place, and I wasn’t taking a photo, but after paying for my order, he was incredibly rude to me, and I only stayed there because it was getting late and I needed food. He then had the nerve to give me loyalty cards to bring back to the hostel. Not returning there and won’t be giving those out!

    Like you said — understandable if photography isn’t allowed, but he could have delivered that completely differently.

    • June 21 2010

      Urrg, customer service at its finest. How do people keep their businesses running?

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

FREE CANDIE FOR ALL!
SUBSCRIBE TO RECEIVE POSTS DIRECTLY TO YOUR INBOX