I love what I do. I love teaching and coaching actors. I thrill over their growth as artists and human beings and do my best to help them through the struggles that inevitably come with growth. I intend to be honest and open, not only about my life and who I am, but also about what I think my students need to focus on as artists. If they have blocks, it’s my job to try to identify them and teach tools to move through them. Most often, my efforts are successful and my relationship with my students is a joyful, educational, creative, collaborative experience for both of us.
But not every teacher fits every student’s needs or personality. So every once in a while a teacher will have a “miss” – a relationship with a student that simply doesn’t fit or work no matter how hard either party tries to find common ground and clear communication. I wish this weren’t the case, but after all, we’re only human. We are fallible and unique and won’t be for everyone. (Kind of like sushi.)
When this miss does happen, my hope is to at least communicate directly with that student and come to an understanding. If they aren’t happy in class or with me, it’s their responsibility to initiate a conversation with me. If I have a sense that they’re not happy, then it’s also my responsibility to initiate a private conversation to see if I can help. We must both be courageous enough to have the conversation, try to understand each other and agree on a solution. If he or she really feels their money was wasted in my class, then both I and the studio are happy to reimburse them.
Of course, students have every right to post reviews of teachers and companies. But when a student posts an anonymous review of me and/or my class, an opportunity for communication and resolution has been squashed. Reviewing anonymously online is not a courageous act. It is often a lashing out of shame and blame in a safe, protected manner that allows the speaker to hide. But I get it; sometimes you just have to yell and scream. And that is any person’s right, I suppose.
I recently had a former student give an anonymous scathing online review of me and my class. While she certainly has the right to do so, I wish she had just spoken with me or the studio directly. We could have worked something out. Perhaps I could have learned from her experience and adjusted in a way that might help me connect to future students. But since she posted anonymously, we have no way to connect or resolve her experience. And I think that’s unfortunate.
Additionally, she and anyone else who wants to post reviews of any business online should know more about the websites you use to do so. There are reputable ones and not so reputable ones…like the one she chose. (Please don’t go searching for it; I’ve posted the review below to keep traffic from going to said websites.)
If you’re going to review, review with integrity.
This student posted on the Ripoff Report. A great name for a site, no doubt. It claims to be the place to go to expose scams to the world. The disgusting irony is that this for-profit website itself is a scam. You might even call it’s actions extortion. Many people already have. Here’s how it works:
- A disgruntled consumer posts anonymously on the Ripoff Report
- The post isn’t reviewed, verified, investigated or questioned.
- Posters can fake their names, location, contact information.
- They can commit defamation and use any manner of unsavory language to express their opinion
- Every page of the Ripoff Report, including the home page, invites the Targeted Company to rebut (for free, how compassionate) or pay for an arbitration to the tune of $2,000 to have the post removed (maybe).
- Ripoff Report also offers defamed businesses other “programs” that require paid membership. Wikipedia has listed those programs as costing anywhere from $87 dollars a month indefinitely to $100,000.
So obviously, Ripoff Report is banking on the fact that Targeted Companies will want to do whatever they can to remove the post. This is how this website makes its money. You can see from the image I pasted below that the Ripoff Report encourages the Targeted Company to defend themselves with four different options. Those four links lead to paid programs, etc.
There are numerous law suits against this website and its owner. (Similar situation for the Complaints Board, which operates the same way and may even copy/paste bad reviews from the Ripoff Report for extortion purposes.)
Compare this sketchy business model to YELP’s straight-forward one:
- Consumers have to identify themselves and take responsibility for their opinions. “Don’t be shy — use your account profile to let people know who you are and what makes you tick. Users want to read reviews from people they know and trust (not those with profiles that are empty or laced with inappropriate content).”
- “We make money by selling ads to local businesses – you’ll see these clearly labeled around the site.”
- “Paying advertisers can never change or re-order their reviews.”
- They also take care in making sure that any reviews aren’t out of order in any way. (Just recently, a student who left a glowing review of me and my class was asked to rewrite it so that my name didn’t appear in it so much. “It looks like you work for her.” She made the change and it was reposted.)
- Inappropriate content isn’t allowed. “Colorful language and imagery is fine, but there’s no need for threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, and other displays of bigotry.”
- Intellectual property is honored: “Don’t swipe content from other sites or users. You’re a smart cookie, so write your own reviews and take your own photos and videos, please!” (This is most likely what the Complaints Board does.)
- Accuracy is important. “Make sure your review is factually correct. Feel free to air your opinions, but don’t exaggerate or misrepresent your experience. We don’t take sides when it comes to factual disputes, so we expect you to stand behind your review.” (While expressing her opinion, my former student made some inaccurate statements, to say the least.)
- Every review page states: “Your trust is our top concern, so businesses can’t pay to alter or remove their reviews.”
We are in an age when quick fingers can do devastating damage to both the posters themselves and the people or businesses they target. People’s worst natures can roar out and be immortalized while accidentally supporting extortionists. (This is why I suggest you breathe before you type so you don’t turn into one of these.)
By all means, if you feel compelled to review a business, do so. Just make sure you use websites that are on the up and up; ones that hold you responsible for your words and don’t leverage your words to make money off of businesses that surely want to improve services.
Feel free to read more about these websites and their deplorable practices:
I’ve posted the former student’s review below for two reasons. 1) So that anyone who is curious about what she wrote won’t inadvertently support the Ripoff Report and/or Complaints Board by giving them traffic and 2) because I have nothing to hide. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I only wish she had chosen to speak with me directly.
Please do not go to the original review and post a reply or rebuttal. Although you may be well-intentioned, you’ll be giving traffic to the Ripoff Report and encouraging more anonymous interaction, which will help no one. But thanks for the thought!