A man who posted a two-star review of a local independent bookstore on Yelp seems to have inadvertently torn open a whole big box of crazy.
The man, known on Yelp as Sean C. in San Francisco, posted the following review of Ocean Avenue Books, dated 10/29/09:
This place is a TOTAL MESS with minimal organization of titles or subjects. There are books stacked everywhere – blocking the shelves. Why would someone want a travel guide from 1982?? I think this place needs to close down for a few days and do a thorough cleaning and organization and get rid of all the crap!
Hardly that scathing compared to some of the reviews available on any number of review sites. But the owner did not find the review Useful (53), Funny (43), or Cool (38); instead, she sent a series of angry, incoherent messages resulting in confronting the man at his door, trying to force her way into his home and ultimately ending in an alleged wrestling match on the man’s front steps. Interestingly, Sean C.’s account of the kerfuffle comes from another review of an organization that assisted him in filing a restraining order. Full circle FTW!
Last Friday I posted a two star review on a business located near my home – the owner started sending me crazy harassing and threatening messages through Yelp. On Sunday night I get a knock at my door – I answer it and it’s the business owner who tried to physically force her way into my home (I still don’t know how she found out where I live)! After wrestling wither her for a few moments (I do have a gun in the house and she is lucky she didn’t get shot or worse) I was able to get my door shut and locked and called 911. The police quickly arrived and took her away and advised me to get a restraining order. The next morning I went to the ACCES center and they couldn’t have been more helpful! They helped me fill out the proper forms, made copies, and told me exactly all the steps that were needed to take to get the restraining order in effect.
While Yelp pulled the original comment from the owner on Sean C.’s review, he took screenshots of the series of angry private messages sent by the owner and helpfully transcribed them in a long thread about the incident:
“hey — I just read it. Why don’t you come in here and say it to my face? Are you too much of a coward?”
“What’s the problem, why are you writing so many mean things? Do you not have a girlfriend? are you divorced? I can see why….”
“world of pain. well you sure spread pain to others.
You are too much of a pussy to come in here and speak to me directly. Goodbye pussy boy and I will be contacting your employers.”
“I’ve been thinking about it. The problem is — You’re not very bright. You are a stupid person, and that’s wjhy you do so many stupid things. You have a stupid looking face,. too. You look like an idiot.”
“I don’t want to be on yelp. I’ve asked them to take me off of it but they laughed at me and made fun of me while tears poured down my cheeks. You are an idiot who doesn’t know anything about life and bI can tell by the way you write that you grew up in a bad family. Your mom was a bitch and she didn’t teach you how to behave, that’s why your life is such a mess right now. You are low class – you look it. You look like trash.”
Yelp claims to be helping the beleaguered reviewer in any way they can, but are unable to shed light on how the woman obtained Sean C.’s home address:
This sounds like a bad episode of Renegade circa 1992 on UPN or something.
Obviously, there’s still a lot to discover about all this, but we’re here to help Sean out in any way we can as it plays itself out. To answer a few questions I’ve received via Private Messages and email regarding this issue, I wanted to reiterate the following:
We take our privacy standards very seriously. In this particular incident, we certainly didn’t provide any personal information about Sean (telephone numbers, home address, et al.), as none of those pieces of information are even available to us. There’s no telling how this person may have unearthed Sean’s place of residence, but rest assured, that information was in no way, shape or form, provided by Yelp.
We’re all about creating a fun opportunity for the community to share local knowledge and help each other find cool local spots around the city. User reviews are clearly an important tool to make that happen, so if anyone has questions or concerns, please feel free to hit me up.
While it’s definitely an interesting turn of events, it almost seems strange that this hasn’t happened already. How many times have you dealt with business owners who have a tremendous inability to be accommodating and deal with customers effectively and a crazy, public temper? Given the content of some reviews on sites like Yelp, I would be shocked if this hasn’t happened at least once before. And as Yelp didn’t disclose the man’s address, Sean C. wasn’t listed in directories, and he didn’t use a credit or debit card in the store, how did this woman manage to track him down in two days?