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Worst Use Of Social Media of 2012: Boners BBQ


Ten days into the new year and I think we already have a champion.

No, it’s not the N-Control Avenger PR Disaster that rounded out 2011. Nor was it the FedEx foul-up.

Let’s say you own a BBQ joint and a customer comes in, one of the only ones and orders a meal. You can tell she’s not happy and it’s verified by a well-written and factual review on Yelp.

So what do you do to make it right?

A) Get in touch with her and offer a meal for free to make it up?

B) Respond to the Yelp review by apologizing and explaining the issues

C) Call her a bitch and post her pic on Facebook

If you picked C, then you may have a new fave BBQ joint to hang out at!

Here we go, ready? Buckle up your brisket:

(All pictures are linked to their file, so if you’re on a phone and they’re tough to read, just click it)

1. Stephanie and her husband go to Boners BBQ in Atlanta for a meal after grabbing a $10 off coupon from Scoutmob.

2. They leave and she posts her review on Yelp. One of the better written reviews on the site to be honest. She lists the things she liked and didn’t like, with reasons why. Not an all-caps “ZOMG!! THIS PLACE IS HORRIBLE!”

3. After seeing the Yelp review and being told she didn’t tip the server, the person who runs Boners BBQ Facebook page decides to put her in her place by posting her picture (censoring by me, they put the unedited photo up):

And they added both this description and follow-up comment:

4. So, like most places on the Internet, the morons were there first saying things like “F&$K YA!” and other eloquent expressions, clicking “Like” to share it with their other Grade 10 classmates. Then people started commenting on how it’s wrong to post her picture and call her names and they replied with remorse and maturity… just kidding, they told her to F&$# Off too!

5. Now the owner jumps in, to bring some logic and sanity to it?

The logic of “She left us a bad review on Yelp so we can say what we want on our wall!!” really pushes the public’s buttons and a mass of comments hit their wall. Your wall or not, nothing can stop the Geekalanche once it starts.

6. They pull the entire status and comments and also delete any other posts that come in about it, which just makes people angrier. They end up posting an “apology” which is what I’d advise a client to do, just not so…..well…insincere.

You just get this feeling that they’re not apologizing for what they did, but that they wanted to stop the mass amount of anger.

7. It becomes pretty clear when they post in the apology comment thread later:

Yeouch. He had it perfect, explained what they’ve been doing, got frustrated and had a bad “moment”. Annnnd then reminded everyone there is no excuse for not tipping. What he doesn’t understand is it’s not about tipping or not (although if a tip is mandatory, then it’s a fee and should be stated as such) it’s about how you deal with people. We are a forgiving society if you just own-up. FedEx is a great example of that.

8. As it turns out, she said she DID tip. She posted on Reddit about the experience:

That Facebook post was about me. That picture is me. I can give some background on this if anyone wants to know. The basics are that my husband and I went to Boner’s BBQ for his birthday dinner. We were enticed there with a Scoutmob coupon (for $10 off) and we were the only ones in the place for our meal except for a brief period where a couple came in to get a pickup order. We paid in cash and yes, we left a tip. The ticket was $40 even minus $10 for the coupon + tax= $32.80 We dropped two twenties on the table and left. And yes, I did, politely, let the waitress know that the food wasn’t as I expected and no, I didn’t lick the plates or even eat all the food, that was my husband. He is far less picky about his BBQ than I am.

So what can we take from this? This isn’t a “social media” problem. You don’t train people not to call customers a “bitch” on Facebook and post their picture. (I’m picturing George Costanza saying “Was that wrong?”

Social media doesn’t make a business bad or good, it amplifies what they already are.

So, does this hurt their business or are you one of those “Any PR is good PR!” people? Will she sue? Comment below!

And one of you has to explain to my family why I have 9 screenshots on my desktop called “Boner”. Thanks.

Special thanks to Johanna Harrison and Michael McCready for the screenshots and heads-up. With my second book due to my publisher at the end of the month, it practically writes itself 🙂


So realizing the error of their ways (or it was the fact that news cameras showed up at their place (broadcast embedded below), and the Huffington Post blogged about it, they decided to give a little more sincere apology… but not really:

Looks pretty good right? And that’s that!! Problem solved…………… Orrrrrrr not.

Next someone adds this comment:

Not sure the worst part here: the fact that he calls people assholes, the fact that the woman actually DID leave a tip, 20% at that, or the waterboarding. Yeah, the waterboarding part. But this isn’t Boners BBQ that wrote it, they can’t control what some jackalope says on their wall right? You see that little “thumbs-up” sign with a 4 beside it? Let’s see who the 4 people are who clicked “I AGREE!!! ME LIKE!” beside the assholes/waterboarding comment:

Would ya look at that….. Doesn’t make the apology seem so sincere now does it?

Some people have asked what would I advise them to do if they were my client…

And I tell them they never would be. No amount of social media or marketing help would ever trump crappy product and a crappy attitude.

Customers should not be afraid to leave honest reviews for the fear of being publicly humiliated.

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