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Truly great businesses know the customer is king, but NOT always right.

16 August 2016 4:16 PM

We interview a business owner on the epic way he dealt with unfair criticism in an online review.


Got great service? Click here (Gauteng) or here (Western Cape) to nominate them for the 2016 702/CapeTalk Small BusinessAwards with Sage One.


The customer is not always right. It’s simply a fact.

Great businesses know this and how do deal with a customer that is in the wrong or acts in a way that is unacceptable.

Massimo’s in Hout Bay, famed for its pizzas, can provide a lesson on how to deal with a difficult customer.

John Matham spoke to Massimo's owner (scroll down to listen to the audio), Massimo Orione, about the need for businesses to respond to unfair criticism in online reviews, after his restaurant came under attack from a reviewer

Customer’s review:

“As local Hout Bay residents who frequent Massimo’s regularly, we were very disappointed at the owner’s attitude to our complaint regarding the fact that the main pizza maker had a large plaster on his face!! With m gloves [sic] and was making pizzas in full view of the entire restaurant. In conversation with the owner, he expressed indifference to my opinion, and stated to me that I was not a “doctor” but did say that the member was from West Africa where communicable diseases are rife. We were asked to leave and only invited back if we were considered doctors!! If someone is ill, don’t put them in full view of clients! Be more professional, and don’t treat your customers with disrespect.”

Massimo’s response to the review:

“Sir, you forgot to write on your review that the first thing you told me is that you were already tipsy and that you are NOT a doctor!. You then told me that as you are from Zimbabwe, and you recognized my pizza chef as a fellow Zimbabwean and because he is skinny and had a plaster on his eyebrow he must have HIV. When I told you that he is actually from DRC, you said then he must have Ebola and you did not want your food touched by him. At that point I had no choice to ask you to leave as I can’t pick and choose my staff according to the racism of my clients. Incidentally the pizza guy hit his head on a beam during loadshedding. I would gladly ask you not to frequent my restaurant in the future.”

Paying it forward

After responding to the customer on Tripadvisor, Massimo posted the original review and his response on Facebook.

Included was a picture of his staff wearing plasters on their heads in solidarity with their colleague.

Massimo also offered a free shot Limoncello to every customer with a plaster on their forehead and used the spotlight to promote his “pay it forward” project whereby for every six slices of pizza sold he gives a pizza to one of four charities.


Got great service? Click here (Gauteng) or here (Western Cape) to nominate them for the 2016 702/CapeTalk Small BusinessAwards with Sage One.


16 August 2016 4:16 PM


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