i am a good idea.

Lessons learned from some douchebag on Yelp

In April 2010, I had a really bizarre experience. I was at a local pub (RIP O’Shaughnessy’s) with a friend. We were enjoying a pint on the patio when a stranger came over and asked us something random and hilarious. Entertained, we invited him to join us. After another pint, he straightforwardly pointed out that my roots were growing out and I desperately needed my hair colored. Which I knew. This was when he told me he was a hairstylist with his own newly-opened salon in Central Ohio that he was looking to promote. This was when I told HIM that I was someone who likes to help promote new local businesses online. This was when HE offered to take me, straightaway, to his newly opened studio and fix my hair, and asked me to spread the word if I was happy with the experience. I accepted. I mean, who gets the chance for 9pm hair appointments?!

This was the review that I posted shortly thereafter to Yelp. I removed the business name here, but I haven’t deleted the review from Yelp.

Rating: 5 Stars


I had a few too many beers at the bar after work. I was chatting with this guy and he very forwardly offered up that he had what I needed back at his house. Against my better judgment, I went back with him. I walked into his place & he handed me another beer, we smoked a cigarette, and then he sat me down and gave me EXACTLY what I desperately needed…

A cut and color!

Seriously, who picks up a hair stylist at the bar and – at 8pm on a Tuesday after you’ve BOTH been drinking for a loooonggg time – goes to said strangers house for some root touchup? THIS GIRL.

*NAME REMOVED*s salon is a fab space. I expected a basement corner or something – I had no idea what I was getting myself into, see: beer. But NO! A legit studio in an old Victorian duplex in Olde Town East with teal, orange and tope striped walls. Chic. I posted a couple photos.

We listened and danced to Lady Gaga and Cher, took frequent smoke breaks and crushed a six pack. In between all that, somehow, he perfectly matched the color of my hair to my roots, flat-ironed The Beast and gave me a terrific cut.

*NAME REMOVED* himself – hilarious. Snarky. Blunt. My kinda guy.

This posh private experience will set you back $85+. Totally. Worth. It. Call *NAME REVIEWED* and make an appointment immediately!

Yelpers marked the review Useful (6), Funny (8), Cool (5), a fair amount of feedback on Yelp standards. I got a few compliments for it. I added it to a list called “Superb Services” with the best service providers in the city. I think a few people actually made appointments with him because of it. I never went back to him, because I texted him once to inquire about an appointment and he didn’t respond, and I hate calling people. So I moved on.

I had almost forgotten the experience. Until I got this message today:

Hi Cheryl, this is *NAME REMOVED*. I came across your review for my salon (*SALON NAME REMOVED*), and my clients and I are a bit enraged by how you have deferred my reputation. Please be prompt to delete the defermating review, or legal action will be taken. Thank You, *NAME REMOVED*

lolwhat? I wrote you a 5-star review. A long ass time ago. Which you ASKED ME TO WRITE. And which, had I been asked politely, I would have removed without hesitation.

We’ll let it slide that he said “deferred” instead of “defamed.” He followed this up by writing his own review of his business (which Yelp will delete shortly – it’s against their Terms of Service.)

Hi, this is *NAME REMOVED*. I just found out a false review has been written about my salon. I do not know this Cheryl H. woman. I never did her hair, she never same to the salon, and I never “offered” to do her hair. I would not do someone’s hair who was under the influence. I also don’t approach people to do their hair, I usually do referrals. She may have got my photos from my myspace,facebook page, and/or my website and posted these on Yelp. If you want reviews and info, please go to *URL REMOVED*.

Thank you and sorry for this confusion.

The “photos I stole from Facebook” were taken on my cell phone. I have another photo of me IN the studio, with him, somewhere. I hope to find it soon and mail him a print. (UPDATE: See below.)

Either he was so black-out drunk that he does not remember this, or he decided that the way he presented his business to me the first time was no longer how he wished to be viewed by clients and prospects. I stopped laughing long enough at the situation to share a few lessons learned:

1) Monitor the internet continually for your brand.

The fact that it took him over a year and a half to see a review of his business that is ranking #1 for his business name and posted on arguably the most popular review site in existence is astounding to me. There is no business with the same name, so there’s no excuse for missing this. Set up a Google Alert RIGHT NOW for your business name. Monitor review sites for your business. There’s no reason for not knowing what people are saying about you in real-time.

2) If you’re going to ask people to review your business online, you have to accept that you can’t control what they write.

This was a review I was ASKED by the salon owner to write. Obviously I wasn’t obligated to write it, but I wanted to promote good work. I wrote a tremendously positive review of his abilities, adding in my usual snarky style about the atypical experience I had. What did you expect me to do? Lie, and say I made an appointment with you through normal means and everything was sober and regular? If you didn’t want me to share the experience, you shouldn’t have explicitly asked me to several times, or you should have kindly requested that I omit some details. I reviewed MY experience, which was, you know, tipsy.

3) Be consistent in how you present your brand to people.

The first experience a customer has with you is the one they are always going to remember. And the one they are going to tell people about. Don’t do something you don’t want shared, and it won’t be shared. If you don’t want people saying you color hair when you’re inebriated, don’t color hair when you’re inebriated.

4) Don’t threaten to sue people who are advocating you

No explanation necessary.

UPDATE: I found a photo on, funny enough, my Yelp profile of me in the salon. I have placed it next to the photo I “stole from online.” But hey, I probably photoshopped the background in for the sake on sticking to my lie, right?


25 Responses to “Lessons learned from some douchebag on Yelp”

  1. Kristine says:

    Hey Cheryl, I’ve had similar things happen to me as well. Whereas I can see both sides of this (although I do not agree whatsoever with his approach to contact you nor discredit you) – your follow up “lessons to remember” are spot on. My guess is that now that he’s beyond a ‘start up’ he probably has a shifted idea of what professionalism he wants to offer his clients. But yeah – not your problem. Thanks for sharing.

  2. LOVED this. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Thanks for sharing.

    I’ve written my fair share of Yelp reviews and love the website — especially since I move a lot and it’s a great way to find out what’s good locally. But I’ll be careful to keep all photographic evidence somewhere safe (just in case).

    By the way – love your writing, too. Any chance you’d like to join a small group of bloggers for a carnival this month? Consider this a special invite!

  3. Brandie says:

    I hate it when you defer my reputation and I have to wait until the next week to claim it.

    I can’t even pretend to make up a definition for defermating. Is that postponed boning?

    He should feel lucky that you didn’t include a mention of the parting gift he gave you. Maybe I should do a review of my own to thank him for that?

  4. Cheryl, He probably freaked out when he saw it because he could lose his license if the state board were to stumble (no pun intended) upon your Yelp review.

    I dont cut hair and am not familiar with laws, rules or regulations regarding the licensing of stylists – but my guess is the board would frown upon this activity.

  5. Reid says:

    Awesome story. Defermating. I’m going to use that.

  6. Cheryl says:

    Kristine: All he had to do was ask – I was never trying to hurt his business, if my review was doing that I would have removed it. Not now. That shit’s glued to the internets.

    Tea: All those drunk camera phone photos pay off for something finally, haha.

    Brandie: I’m deferring it til next Wednesday

    Sean: Probably, but he could have asked me to remove it instead of denying having ever met me

    Reid: Do it.

  7. Samantha says:

    Ew. So weird and annoying. I can only imagine the headache that went along with this.

  8. Lara K says:

    Absolutely classic. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Cake Betch says:

    I wish this had happened to me because this would have been a FANTASTIC illustration. What the fucking fuck??? People who straight up lie and deny things like that blow my mind. How do they think that pretending it never happened will ever work?
    Also, he said defermating, not deferring. Did he mean defaming? Fermenting? Deferential equations? I don’t understand. Poor grammar and spelling ESPECIALLY when it involves your business is one of my hot button issues. Sounds like this guy got exactly what he asked for.

  10. Scott Greiff says:


    Well, there are a lot of people pretending to do the “AA” thing and then they get caught pretending.

  11. Brandie says:

    @Cake Betch – he also said “you have deferred my reputation”

  12. Cheryl says:

    Samantha: I was in a very cranky mood when this happened, lol.
    Lara: My pleasure :-p
    Cake Betch: PLEASE ILLUSTRATE THIS!!!!!1!!!
    Scott: Haha, hadn’t thought of that!

  13. My first thought was “jealous lover who got a different story about what happened, thus you must be lying and “deferring” his character”, but Scott may be on to something. Either way, I’m going to say “busted”.

  14. Cheryl says:

    Mel: he was gay! i met his boyfriend! haha i don’t think his boyfriend would be jealous of me lol – also, HE WAS THERE. sigh. craziness.

  15. Shanna says:

    WOW, what a story. Love your personal branding tips though, way to bring the story full circle. What a crazy Yelp review and story. You can be sure to defermating me on Yelp with a 5 star review any day. :)

  16. I’m really in awe over some of the things that people do–especially when they threaten to take legal action (snort) in the hopes that you’ll panic and do what they want. I bet if he did that and someone ever threatened to countersue he’d pee his pants, because if he thinks it’ll scare you, it’ll probably scare him :D

  17. Rob Nelson says:

    Cheryl, his new partner probably was offended that he was pup crawling for biz. So he tried to have the event erased from his new version of his history. Hope you left it up for posterity. Facts are facts and you did the dude a BIG favor.

  18. TruXter says:

    I misread a sign for a coffee shop’s name (just missed one word in the title) and wrote a review on restaurant review site, posted tons of positive points, their phone number map and address, website address, schedules for their events.

    I walked in their coffee shop like 3 months later, they changed all of their signs to match my review. I hate that they spent the money on it, but truth is….. what ever the customers want give it to them. Especially when it brings customers.

  19. Jamie C says:

    Hi, Cheryl!! :)
    I have an assumption about this whole situation… it is illegal to drink in a salon, based on the license, etc… so I’m guessing he liked the review until someone informed him of his actions and he asked you to remove it. Too bad! Sounds like he COULD have been a cool dude!

  20. Cheryl says:

    Jamie – You’re probably right, but all he had to do was ask! Silly silly.

  21. Wow. You’d think that this guy would have had better judgement. You wrote him a 5 star review and made him seem like a cool guy. Somewhere along the line he must have changed his mind. Can’t fault you for trying to help someone promote their business. Love this story and part 2 as well.

  22. […] guy who tried to sue me for a five star review, and then pretended he was an old lady, has written several fake reviews of his salon. I thought […]

  23. jor says:

    I stumbled on this… your headline grabbed me. Loved the post and your style. thanks for the chuckle. What douchey move…

  24. cherylharrison says:

    haha glad this story is still entertaining folks :)

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