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How NOT to Respond to a Negative Online Review — a Cautionary Tale

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You can’t afford this type of PR.

If your business has ever had a bad review online, you know how tempting it can be to respond in less-than-polite terms.

But that’s generally the wrong way to go, as one tech entrepreneur learned.

Denis Grisak created a product called Garadget, an app-based garage-door controller, Inc. reports. And one customer was none too satisfied, leaving scathing reviews on both the company’s forum and Amazon.com.

User rdmart7 said on the company forum that the app wouldn’t stay open and the product was “a piece of s***.”

On Amazon, posting as R. Martin, he wrote: “Junk – DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY – iPhone app is a piece of junk, crashes constantly, start-up company that obviously has not performed proper quality assurance tests on their products.”

Grisak replied on the company forum:

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Robert,

The abusive language here and in your negative Amazon review, submitted minutes after experiencing a technical difficulty, only demonstrates your poor impulse control. I’m happy to provide the technical support to the customers on my Saturday night but I’m not going to tolerate any tantrums.

At this time your only option is return Garadget to Amazon for refund. Your unit ID 2f0036… will be denied server connection.

In other words, the reviewer’s product was rendered useless. And that was a dismal PR move for Grisak — the type that no startup firm can really afford.

Media outlets ranging from Hacker News to Inc. to the Atlantic covered the exchange. And Garadget ended up with additional negative feedback like this review on Amazon: “Would normally have recommended this device but unfortunately this device relies on manufacturer’s cloud services and if you do something trivial to piss off the manufacturer they will brick your device. Look elsewhere.”

Grisak told the Los Angeles Times he regrets his response.

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“I was overprotective of my product and it was hard to take this criticism,” he told the newspaper. “It’s not going to happen again.”

The Atlantic reports that Grisak has restored Martin’s connection, but that Martin is, nonetheless, trying to return the item.

“I should have bought him back with kindness,” Grisak said.

Read more at Inc.

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State Bill Would Ban Pet Leasing

A few other states already have similar laws.

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A proposed law in Connecticut would ban the practice of pet leasing.

The legislation seeks to outlaw leases in which the new pet owners accept high interest rates and believe they are agreeing to a payment plan, the Connecticut Post reports.

Such agreements open the possibility of the pet being repossessed at a later date, according to the publication.

The state Senate approved the ban last week. The proposed legislation will now be considered in the state House.

Bob Duff, a Democrat serving as Senate majority leader, said: “As a pet owner myself, I could never imagine leasing a pet and then after six or nine months or whatever it is, giving it back. They might actually think they own the pet instead of leasing the pet.”

According to the Post, pet leasing has already been banned in Nevada, California and New York.

The Connecticut proposal would still allow for certain types of pet leases, including “those for breeding purebred dogs, renting show animals or obtaining guide or law enforcement dogs,” according to the Post.

Find out more at the Connecticut Post 

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Chewy to Open $55M Facility, Creating 1,200 Jobs

It’s planning a fulfillment center.

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Chewy, an online pet supply retailer, has selected Rowan County, NC, for its new fulfillment center, with plans to create 1,200 new jobs and invest $55 million.

“Chewy selected North Carolina because from our infrastructure to our workforce, we have everything businesses need to succeed,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “These new jobs will make a positive impact on Rowan County and the surrounding area.”

The e-commerce company will locate in Salisbury, NC.

Chewy is dually headquartered in Dania Beach, FL, and Boston, MA. It has customer service centers in Dallas, TX, and Hollywood, FL, and eight fulfillment centers around the country.

“We’re excited to expand Chewy’s fulfillment operations to North Carolina, our first in the state and ninth in the country,” said Pete Krilles, vice president, corporate real estate and facilities, for Chewy. “We greatly appreciate the partnership with the City of Salisbury, Rowan County, the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission, North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“We look forward to making a positive economic contribution to the region with the creation of 1,200 new jobs. In addition to job creation, our new fulfillment center will enhance our delivery network across the southeastern United States, allowing us to better service Chewy customers with even faster delivery times.”

“Companies like Chewy will find success in North Carolina because we have a strong workforce and desirable business climate,” said Secretary of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland. “Pair that with our location and quality of life and you’ve got a winning formula.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of NC were instrumental in supporting the company’s expansion decision.

A performance-based grant of $166,650 from the One North Carolina Fund will support the creation of 150 of the new jobs, facilitating Chewy’s establishment of the facility in North Carolina. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

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Pet Store Chain Files for Bankruptcy

Its owner died in January.

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Petland Discounts, a chain that operated in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The action follows the January death of the company’s owner, Neil Padron.

The company has closed its stores.

Notices with each of the three states’ labor departments indicated that more than 300 jobs could be lost across 70 store locations.

The bankruptcy petition was filed in New York Eastern Bankruptcy Court.

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Padron started the business in 1965. He died of bladder cancer on Jan. 14.

Details of the bankruptcy case are available here.

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