Line Out Music & the City at Night

Friday, November 4, 2011

"...and then he called me a hipster piss-ant"

Posted by on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Zack, would you consider yourself a hipster piss-ant?  Well, I was wearing skinny jeans, but he had no way of knowing that.
  • "Well, i was wearing skinny jeans, but he had no way of knowing that."

I was getting a bagel last week from Zack Bolotin, who owns Porchlight, a coffee and record shop on 14th with a loyal clientele. He put out the last Grand Hallway albums, hosts shows, and is an extremely personable, funny guy. His sassy Yelp retorts to a few rude customers have garnered him some local notoriety ("I was just joking around with them, some of them just get so offended.") Which brings up a few points, namely the marginal credibility of Yelp complaints often taken seriously by business owners unfamiliar with Internet trolls, and how lenient customer policies invite abuse from manipulative grifters demanding freebies.

Zack tells me about an incident at Porchlight last Tuesday where a customer started calling when he opened at 7 am to complain about an employee who was allegedly too disinterested in his questions the day before. Zack tried to hear him out and apologize at first, saying that maybe the girl working had been having a bad day, until the man offhandedly mentioned that he calls places often to complain. Since the shop was in a morning rush and too busy for the extended phone conversation the man wanted to have, he agreed somewhat aggressively to call back later. But after calling back three times in ten minute intervals, more aggravated with each attempt, he barked that he could "hear the smirking over the phone" and proceeded to call Zack a "hipster piss-ant," demanding he should give him free coffee to "make things right." Zack responded that he was finished talking to the man and that his patronage was no longer welcome. The man responded that "You don't even know what I look like," and threatened to come in with a bat. Feeling like he should report the incident due to the escalating hostility, Zack called the non-emergency SPD line and an officer was dispatched.

After listening to the story, the officer retrieved the number from the caller ID and proceeded to tell the man he was the Porchlight regional manager, and to come to the store and they'd settle everything. "I think the guy thought he was getting free stuff," said Zack. When the average looking 30-something man with a fluffy white dog came down and identified himself, several officers stopped him and gave him a harsh warning never to come back and to stop harassing business owners. So it leaves the question: where do you draw the line between addressing reasonable customer complaints vs. crazy people with too much time on their hands and a warped sense of entitlement?

 

Comments (35) RSS

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Kenneth 1
I think it's also important for individuals to recognize that even in person, people in the service industry in general shouldn't be afraid to call out customers who are acting like assholes. Even though a business needs business, not putting up with jerks is needed to establish an intolerance i.e. if an individual is being racist, homophobic, or being a turd-salad.

Good job Zack!
Posted by Kenneth http://offtempo.com on November 4, 2011 at 11:37 AM · Report this
2
cat birthday party!!!
Posted by perry on November 4, 2011 at 11:44 AM · Report this
alithea 3
this may tear a hole in the space-time continuum but DID YOU KNOW THE STRANGER HAS A YELP PAGE? http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-stranger-sea…

combining the entitled bullshit of yelp reviews with the entitled baby attitude of slog trolls! BEST OF NO WORLDS.
Posted by alithea on November 4, 2011 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Megan Seling 4
I think people like this existed long before Yelp. A friend of mine used to work for a customer service call center for a major company and he would get the DUMBEST calls in the world. Like, a woman demanding the company replace the perfume she bought somewhere else because she just so happened to drop and break it in their store's bathroom. Or people who would demand free merchandise because the coffee they bought from the company was too hot or too cold or it didn't have enough vanilla. They could've handled that at the store, but noooooo, the customer waited until they got home or to their office to call a 1-800 number and complain to someone who lived in a different state.

Consumers have always been passive aggressive entitled brats.

TEAM ZACK!
Posted by Megan Seling on November 4, 2011 at 12:18 PM · Report this
yos-wa 5
i do enjoy that he came down there just to get told not to come there. haha.

also, yelp certainly doesn't help the situation, but people are just plain assholes sometimes (most of the time).

what came first? the entitled asshole, or the yelp reviewer?
Posted by yos-wa on November 4, 2011 at 12:31 PM · Report this
6
Voting for more cat pictures is like voting for the green party, useless but I did it anyways.
Posted by Nathan Chambers on November 4, 2011 at 12:53 PM · Report this
7
More cat pictures is always the right vote.
Posted by Zack on November 4, 2011 at 1:08 PM · Report this
very bad homo 8
Yelp is like 95% assholes.
Posted by very bad homo on November 4, 2011 at 1:20 PM · Report this
9
Another teeny-peened passive aggresive hipster tool whose band will surely "make it" someday. What a fucking loser.
Posted by Jo Papa! on November 4, 2011 at 1:29 PM · Report this
LEE. 10
@9

You didn't really read the story, did you? You just saw the word hipster and immediately fired off missives like knuckle children?
Posted by LEE. on November 4, 2011 at 1:48 PM · Report this
11
I think we should applaud the SPD for this one, man. How great was that police work? Hilarious and scary that they're not busier stopping the crack deals on 3rd and Pine. But whatever. Fuck that guy and his little dog.
Posted by itsneverthateasy on November 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM · Report this
12
I love the idea of Porchlight Coffee having a Regional Manager. I'm picturing Steve Carrell in a trucker hat for some reason . . .
Posted by Levislade http://ballofwax.org on November 4, 2011 at 4:20 PM · Report this
13
Clearly this was a violation of the customers free speech rights. Right? I thought all businesses "open to the public" had endure what ever obnoxious behavior is foisted upon them by the disgruntled public. That was the prevailing attitude at The Stranger yesterday, anyway.

Ohhhhh... only if you're an eeeeevil BANK branch.
Posted by tkc on November 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Report this
tehjakers 14
I stopped leaving Yelp reviews after that I, Anonymous about it last year.
Posted by tehjakers on November 4, 2011 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 15
Way back in the 90's, when I worked at the Four Seasons (which is most decidedly NOT a hipster establishment) we were encouraged to hang up or walk away if a guest became abusive. We'd have to warn them, of course, but after the first warning, we could terminate the interaction if they didn't calm down. The idea was that we were "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen" - a bromide which is old as the hills, but much better than the odious "the customer is always right" - and accepting boorish behavior set the wrong tone.

It worked, 99% of the time. It caused normal, rational people to take a breath and calm down, and it drove the moochers absolutely insane.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on November 4, 2011 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Alicia 16
@13: This was not a verbal protest taking place outside on the sidewalk (public space), but a harassment campaign being waged over the business phone line (private space) that escalated into threats of violence. Talking about how banks have behaved recklessly and being angry over systemic injustice =/= some dude who feels the business was not sufficiently enthusiastic about him personally.
Posted by Alicia http://aliciaaho.com on November 4, 2011 at 5:13 PM · Report this
17
Oh fuck Yelp and their shakedown-condoning bullshit. I assume they've been shamed out of the practices mentioned in the following article but blackmailish attitude lives on in the myriad arbitrary and capricious reviews found to this day:

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/yelp-a…

I have no respect for Yelp or Yelpers, and I have mad respect for companies that don't submit their tyranny. First on the list is my favorite San Francisco pizzeria that printed up T-shirts for its servers with the dumbest reviews in bold letters:

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/20…

Go Zack, and thank you for being there at 7 AM for my groggy ass.
Posted by capicola on November 4, 2011 at 5:27 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 18
LOL at turd-salad, thanks @1! :D
Posted by mr. herriman on November 4, 2011 at 5:36 PM · Report this
bedipped 19
Has the advent of Internet-based ranting sites (such as Slog) encouraged antisocial behavior and nurtured a brattiness in the commenter? When in Rome...
Posted by bedipped on November 4, 2011 at 6:08 PM · Report this
20
I voted NO.

This behavior has been going on LONG before Yelp and it's ilk were around.

There exists a certain class of customer who will complain until they get free stuff, no matter what. These people are not dependent on Yelp or anything else.
Posted by Lack Thereof on November 4, 2011 at 6:39 PM · Report this
21
Did anyone else read the stranger's yelp site? Truly awesome display of the something...
Posted by Juan on November 4, 2011 at 7:37 PM · Report this
22
Yelp is only as powerful as the business owner is a jack- ass. Zack was right to stand up for his employee, who he knows and trusts to do her job right, and because he did this, he won a small hipster piss-ant justice. See? Good boss, good results. Imagine if he caved in to the professional complainer like most pussy managers and owners, and that crazy guy kept coming back for free coffee. See what I mean?
Posted by ninjawoman69 on November 4, 2011 at 8:35 PM · Report this
bearseatbeats 23
I've worked in consumer service for a local software publisher and manufacturer, and one time this guy called in about a collection of mini games we published, saying that one of them was too violent for his son (it barely registers as PG, I promise you) and that it was making him really aggressive and violent. He demanded that we "burn" a version just for him that didn't include that particular game. Yeah, dude. Let me just get the programmers off that AAA title to work on this, then fire up the press that only prints in batches of THOUSANDS and is located in Asia anyway, and send you a special disc, just for you and your son, who likely has mental issues. Don't worry about those thousands of useless discs, either. We'll just dump those in the ocean... All he kept yelling at the top of his lungs was "I know you have the technology! I'm your customer! You have to help me!" Needless to say, I didn't spend much more time listening to him. This story is one of many. Working in consumer service has convinced me that we're doomed as a species.

Oh, and I never read Yelp reviews anymore. I just look at the aggregate score over the number of reviews. I suggest all of you do the same. Three stars or more gets a try. Two stars or lower and you've probably got some legitimate complaints.
Posted by bearseatbeats on November 4, 2011 at 9:23 PM · Report this
Certainly! 24
I really appreciate that Zack chose to stand for his business, himself, and his employee. We've all been in a public space with a bully and no one willing to stand up to them in that moment. So pleased that the police stood with the business owner, too.
Posted by Certainly! on November 5, 2011 at 12:48 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 25
..oh ..and .. zack fucking rules...
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on November 5, 2011 at 1:00 AM · Report this
Machete 26
Speaking of Yelp commentators, check out Victoria T. on The Strangers page, 2 stars, appreciates I saw you. She has some pretty hilarious hotel reviews, vending machine reviews, she hates a lot of things. What I really appreciate is how she regularly informs readers that she's not all that ridiculous or pretentious when she's getting worked up about EVERYTHING.
Posted by Machete on November 5, 2011 at 8:15 AM · Report this
27
what does this story have to do with yelp? the wingnut in question is the type of ranter who's been around for decades, someone dissatisfied with the world who takes it out on whoever he can, and has probably gotten a decent amount of free shit because people often would rather give someone a pass to get them out of their hair than deal with an even bigger scene. I think Zack did a great job of handling the situation.

As for Yelp, is it really that different than the Stranger's restaurant listing where anyone can leave a review? I admit to reading Yelp reviews sometimes if I'm considering a new place or service, but I know to ignore the positive reviews that sound like they were written by the business' PR team (because they probably were) and the negative reviews that sound like the customer is probably a jackass (also easy to spot), or was expecting something very different than what the place offers.

I will say that most Yelp writers who think they're being hilarious...aren't.
Posted by genevieve on November 5, 2011 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Y.F. Redux 28
I respect businesses who don't treat their employees like shit and demand their patrons don't treat their employess like shit either. Those are the businesses who will always get my money and respect.
Posted by Y.F. Redux on November 5, 2011 at 4:29 PM · Report this
impulse nine 29
I'd like to give a shout out to the quite-reasonable cop here who took a good look at what was going on and made life easier for pretty much all businesses the jerk had harassed.
Posted by impulse nine http:// on November 5, 2011 at 4:42 PM · Report this
llli1illl 30
You could stand to gain a few pounds
Posted by llli1illl on November 6, 2011 at 1:17 PM · Report this
31
Yelp is full of heavy pain bodies!
Posted by Erok on November 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM · Report this
HellboundAlleee 32
...and believers in quacky new-age philosophy bullshit.
Posted by HellboundAlleee http://hellboundalleee.blogspot.com on November 6, 2011 at 5:29 PM · Report this
33
@30 -- That's hilarious. Re Zack's pic, what I want to know is, was he channeling Elinor Glyn?
http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search…
Posted by beezee on November 7, 2011 at 9:08 AM · Report this
34
@30 -- That's hilarious. Re Zack's pic, what I want to know is, was he channeling Elinor Glyn?
http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search…
Posted by beezee on November 7, 2011 at 9:10 AM · Report this
35
Porchlight is the greatest. I was just there this morning, and Zack is extremely friendly and funny.
Everyone reading this should go buy coffee from Porchlight!
Posted by JonnyH on November 8, 2011 at 3:34 PM · Report this

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