Insulting Customers on Facebook: Real-Life Basil Fawlty or Just Bad PR?

By Guest Comment

Basil F

Today we bring you a guest post from Alison Lancaster, an account manager at Pressat, a press release distribution service based in Ancoats, UK. She has more than 15 years experience working in the PR industry. You can follow her on Linkedin.

With about two-thirds of consumers checking online reviews before booking a place to stay, many small businesses are leveraging social media to handle customer feedback — be it positive or negative. After all, such content is readable by potential future guests.

However, the act of maintaining a good public image is not on the top of one Scottish hostel owner’s list.

Todd Pedersen, who runs the Blue Sky Hostel in Glasgow, recently attracted international media coverage after branding a guest a “retard” on the hostel’s Facebook page when the customer voiced her discontent in a negative review.

Then things went a little crazy. Screenshots after the jump.

Here’s the original complaint:

Blue Sky Hostel

…and the business owner’s curt response. Note his creative, repeated use of the r-word word.



The spat continued with neither side backing down, by which time thousands of people began to share the review page and chip in with comments provoking both parties.

Viral content site The Lad Bible was one of the first media outlets to pick up the story, soon followed by Mail Online,
Telegraph, Scotsman, The Guardian, Metro, BuzzFeed and even a large Australian news site.

This real-life Basil Fawlty has since gone on to say: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Who knows what’s going to happen? It doesn’t really matter.”

What Todd has forgotten to realise is that when two-thirds of consumers are searching for reviews and come across his business, they will be inundated with his foul-mouthed responses projected at a paying customer. No future guest will want to be subject to that sort of attitude, whether they are paying £10 or £50 a night.

The first thing that pops to mind is whether the whole thing could be an elaborate PR stunt; we are in Glasgow, after all.

Do you think the media coverage generated by Todd’s response will increase occupancy or drive guests away?