Should I Review a Wedding Vendor Who Let Me Down?

It’s natural to want to spread the good news about a wedding vendor who went above and beyond, to make your wedding truly special. But what about those vendors who were just plain awful? Here are some things to consider before you trash them for the whole world to see.

1. Why did you hire that vendor? If you chose him/her based on previous reviews, and you had a reasonable expectation of excellent service, then you owe it to future couples to give an honest assessment of your experience with that vendor. If, on the other hand, you chose the vendor just because he/she had the cheapest price, you had ample opportunity to ask yourself why that vendor can’t charge professional prices. So some of the blame is yours. A Yugo doesn’t perform like a Lexus, no matter how much you wish it would.

2. Did you have an explicit contract? Did your vendor fail to live up the exact services he/she promised in that contract? If so, you’re entitled to ask for all or part of your money back; and if the vendor doesn’t reply, you’re entitled to trash him/her online. If you didn’t have a contract at all, it becomes a “he said, she said” exercise, and the vendor will almost certainly respond to your review.

3. Did the boss do your wedding himself/herself? If you hired the person you interviewed, and he/she failed to live up to all promises, that person bears full responsibility for your disappointment. If an employee of the vendor gave poor service, tell the owner first. The offending employee will likely be fired or otherwise disciplined, and the owner will probably make it right for you. Once the owner has had a chance to atone for the employee’s sins, and failed to do so, then the owner is to blame, and a bad review is in order.

4. Did the vendor ask for your feedback? A reputable vendor always wants to know what he/she did right, or wrong. A vendor who doesn’t even ask whether you were happy, is essentially giving you permission to take your case directly to the public.

5. Does your vendor deserve to lose future business? Your review should never be written as a form of punishment, but rather as a guide to future couples seeking reliable vendors. If you believe those couples’ weddings could suffer because of your vendor’s negligence or incompetence, then you owe it to them to be candid about your experience. If most of your wedding day’s problems were beyond your vendor’s control (bad weather, power outage, etc.), then a bad review may be excessive.

6. Write it, read it, then decide. Your first instinct may be to really tear into the vendor with a blistering review. That’s fine, but it’s best to write your angriest review first, let it sit a couple of days, then read it aloud and decide whether the vendor was really that bad or inconsiderate. You may find yourself softening your review, and even including some of the things the vendor did right.

7. Not every bad review has to be zero stars. Most review sites let you grade your vendors on a scale of one to five stars. Often, a three-star review is enough to alert the vendor that he or she has some work to do. It may discourage a few couples from hiring that vendor; but a lukewarm review tells the vendor that, with some proper attention, he/she can be redeemed. You may help that vendor become a 5-star performer in the future.

8. Review your entire experience with the vendor. Was the vendor accessible and responsive through the planning process? Were you able to get fast answers to your questions? Was the vendor able to adapt quickly to changes in your plans? While your wedding day is the big “exam day,” your vender deserves some credit for scoring high on quizzes and mid-terms. So give credit where credit is due, while devoting most of your review to the wedding day performance.

Whether it’s your planner, florist, photographer, caterer, DJ or any other vendor, a positive review is a reward for a great performance. A negative review can be a warning to other couples, or a message to the vendor that his/her service needs improvement. If he/she gets better, then newer, better reviews will follow, and eventually outweigh your review. That is as it should be. No review should punish a vendor forever. Your thoughtful feedback is indeed important, to both you and your vendors.

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2016 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.  

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