The rise in the number of blogs in recent years has given rise to one concern: how credible and authoritative are bloggers in writing about places and things to the point of recommending them to anybody googling the internet in search of so-and-so?
If I had my way, blog entries should come with a fine print: TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK, the disclaimer being that: everything written in a blog is based on the author’s subjective standards and tastes, and may not necessarily suit that of the reader’s. I might rave about a Lonely Planet hostel but it may not be for somebody like you who desires a plasma TV and a water bed, if you know what I mean.
The truth is, most bloggers feel they are the kings and queens of their domains even if they are not jaded world travellers or seasoned food critics. Hell, I would not even be able to tell it’s a 1968 Shiraz even if you shoved it to my face. It is not my fault if I landed on top of the search page when you googled “uncircumcised men” and “cheap motels in Manila.” These are the wonders of internet search engine results and do not necessarily reflect on my expertise on the subject.
Yes, the difference between newspaper writing and blogging is that most of the time, articles involving the former adhere to certain standards and are well thought about (or at least edited). Not unlike blogging where some entries are haphazardly written and quality is sacrificed for the sake of updating. I am still amazed that some bloggers can bloghop like a rabbit and treat the whole thing like some form of electoral campaign or popularity contest. The point here is that most bloggers just do it for fun. If you desire more substance, evaluate a blog for substance and if it fails you, better to look in the New York Times or something.
I am expressing my opinion on this matter because of what reader Jocelyn Neri experienced in Tahanan ni Aling Meding. Even though she was swayed to try this hotel because of the good things that were written about it in another blog, I still feel responsible because after all, I also had good things to say about Tahanan when I visited there last April. Here’s what she had to say:
“We would just like to share with you our unfortunate experience with Tahanan ni Aling Meding where we stayed overnight at room 203(the room they called Narra)
Taken by good reviews of the place, we decided to try it out in the hope of finding a nice place to recommend to our family and friends who may wish to visit us from Manila.
However, much to our disappointment, we felt shortchanged for an accommodation that delivered less of what was promised in their brochures and their website.
For starters, guests are supposedly given welcome drinks upon checking in. Yes, we were asked whether we want it in the lobby or sent up to our room…we chose that it be sent to our room. Need I say they weren’t sent? So when we went down for dinner, I jokingly pointed it out to the receptionist and she apologized saying they were busy with another function that night (UAP San Pablo chapter induction of officers) but promised to serve the drink to us the next day before we check out. Fine…like having been explained to that we are non-priority clients since they have a function to attend to that night was supposed to appease us!
Anyway, we were asked if we wanted to eat our dinner in our room veranda so we said ok…the dining place looked abandoned and gloomy anyway…BUT…you guessed it…about 10minutes into waiting for our food, an attendant knocks to say we can’t eat inside the room…well, ok…beats eating outside a veranda in full view of barong clad Architects to be inducted that night, anyway. So, we went down (3 floors down) and were served cold chopsuey (I specifically ordered this as per recommendation…it was not exceptional as expected and definetely not worth the waitâ€¦no trace of pork or clams were seen as opposed to what was shown in the brochure) and so-so inihaw na liempo (my mom’s version tasted better). We were asked for our drinks…I went for green tea and my husband ordered red tea. Again, the waiter came back to say they only have green tea. Haaah!!!! The “function” used up all the red iced tea and there was none left for us second class customers! Ok, then I asked about our welcome drinks…it was Tropicana…so we just retained we’d get that in the morning before checking out.
After dinner, with not much to do…we wanted to watch some TV…BUT…cable’s dead…network problems which they said should clear up in a few minutes…never did!
I was to take a pee and noticed, there was no toilet seat! Ahhh!!! Then I saw a large cockroach creeping inside the shower room! OMG!!!!! Where did that come from??
As I looked up the ceiling, part was broken and was haphazardly fixed by patching the hole up with some pieces of wood and cardboard…but you could still see the space between the ceiling and the roof…if you were the “praning” type, you would think someone could easily do a peeping tom on you while you’re doing your thing in the bathroom! Or worse, a rat could just jump on you!
So, we are stuck with no TV…and there’s this large fly (bangaw) that buzzed so loud I thought it was some big insect! We had to squish it so the sheets got soiled… we had to make do with the sheets of the smaller bed instead. (I must say though that the sheets are particularly nice…though there are stains on one pillow…and another smelled of roach!) Considering, we had a good night sleep.
We were looking forward to breakfast…the brochure boasted that thay serve brewed Batangas coffee and to me, that could well save the day. Well, we were served Cafe Puro instant coffee (i’m guessing since it’s not even Nescafe!) and when I asked if they have brewed coffee, the waiter apologized and said the coffeemakers broken.
I was sooo frustrated and was ready to take it up with the manager!
Check out time was 12nn so we made use of the remaining time to take pictures of the view (the place does command a nice view of the Sampaloc lake and Mt. Banahaw…such a pity)
When we were checking out, I jokingly reminded the receptionist of our welcome drinks…na goodbye drinks na…she asked…”Ay, di po ba na-serve? Sabi ko po i-serve sa inyo.” And you would think she’d go ask someone to get them for us? NO!!!! It was just left at that! Nakalimutan na…Fine.
There was this lady at the counter (I think she might be the manager) who asked where we’re from and I said we live nearby and just wanted to check out their place because of the good reviews I read in one blog. But I quickly added I never found them to be true. I explained to her how I expected the coffee to be brewed as it was stated in their brochure. Guess what she did? She took out a brochure and started scanning for the words that said we were entitled to free brewed coffee! Having seen none, she tells me so. OMG! I could not even begin to explain myself to her! It was the first time in my entire life to be treated as a seemingly clueless, stupid paying customer! Of course it need not be said! It was implied! It was stated as a come-on that they serve Batangas coffee! Was she telling me that as hotel guests, we are not entitled to brewed coffee? And it is only available upon request? To walk-in diners? Ganon ba kamahal ang brewed coffee at hindi pwede isama sa complimentary breakfast??? The waiterâ€™s broken coffeemaker alibi was better! At least he never made me feel I donâ€™t deserve the coffee! So I asked, (for lack of words to say to her unexpected response) and what about the complimentary drinks? Is it not written in your brochure??? She dismissed this question.
Anyway, I was fuming mad but I decided to hold my piece until I am composed with what I have to say. I decided expecting customers deserve to know about this more than anyone. I still can’t get over the fact that I did not speak my mind right there and then. I was just so taken aback by how i was treated as a customer that I was speechless! All I could say to her was that it was disappointing and it was not worth the price we had to pay! Does she really expect me to return? Or even recommend the place to friends???
The place is really nice…and the attendants are polite and would greet you with “goodmorning ma’ams”. But should you decide to stay for a night, make sure your stay won’t coincide with a function they are having…and make sure you bring books to read should the cable break down again…and don’t expect to be served everything the brochure promised.
Having said these, I hope the place’s admin and marketing people do something to improve their service and their marketing skills. We did not expect much from our stay…but we never expected less than what was promised! And having to be told you were wrong in assuming you deserve what was beautifully painted in that deceiving brochureâ€¦and your complaints be set aside on a technicality of wordsâ€¦ those are sure ways to lose your business.”
Dear Jocelyn, I did have a great experience with Tahanan ni Aling Meding when I went there last summer, so much so that I would like to go there again and recommended the place to all my friends.
I don’t know what’s happened. I did meet one of the owners, Mrs. Escriva, and the last time she told me she was scouting for a good managers after replacing the people who previously ran the place. The owners are based in the US, you see, and really need a reliable caretaker. I’ve forwarded your email to her but she hasn’t replied yet. Hopefully, Tahanan ni Aling Meding will get back on its feet soon.before it gets more flak that is. Regards. – Ajay
Dave Starr says
Nice of you to post this. As an American (married to a Filipina) who has made many trips to the Philippines I sadly find it is an all too common complaint. Many, both Westerners and Filipinos, are only too happy to list the problems the Philippines face in the world today … poor infrastructure, abject poverty, less than efficient government services, the list could go on. But for me, it’s the place I plan to move to permanently and make my full time home. Why? I love the country and especially its people. I have my eyes wide open regarding any possible shortcomings, but will love my new life none the less.
However, as personal experience and many other reports point out, the wonderful Filipino somehow performs a Dr, Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transition when it comes to the hospitality industry. I’ve paid in advance (high rates) for a resort accommodation, only to find upon arrival that I was denied my pre-paid accommodations due to something more important … a TV film crew filming a commercial. Want to buy something in a store with good cold cash? Most likely response is ‘out of stock’, without even an apology. And the brewed coffee is one of my favorites … Batangas coffee is some of the finest in the world and often on the menu in many places … yet so often it’s not served and the wait staff considers it an imposition when one asks for it.
Proper treatment and delivery of promised, contracted services doesn’t require some earthshaking miracle that suddenly cures poverty, rebuilds infrastructure or cures government ills. It simply requires the integrity of delivering what the business paid good money to advertise in writing, or to have the honesty to take it off the menu. In my experience the average Filipino is among the most caring and honest of any people in the world … why does the standard of honesty and care change when instead of a person to person promise it becomes a business to customer transaction?
Perhaps I should just make up a phony business card that says I represent ABS-CBN or GMA-7 and flash that around … doors will open and brewed coffee would then appear, for certain.
Not sour on the Philippines, sour on the specific business attitudes that could change overnight if business owners wanted them to.
talk about customer service.. let them undergo customer service training 101. tsk tsk
Ajay, tuloy ba tayo sa weekend? niyaya ko rin pla si vina para masaya tayo. hihihi u have my number na di ba?
Why apologize? You wrote about your experience in your blog without intent to deceive. I don’t see how your report could have been more factual or the reader’s experience been better if you had written about in the paper.
And, from GK Chesterton: “An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered. An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.”
Nice to hear your views on the matter Dave.
Our businessmen could learn a lot from you. It is a fact that business can suffer if you don’t get good managers or don’t pay your employees well. It would reflect on the service they provide. One day of giving lousy service can spoil months of preparation in opening your business.
But then again, some Filipinos should be slammed for not heeding the patriotic duty to show their best side to strangers, especially foreigners. Most condemnable are corrupt personnel in our airports or even those taxi drivers who charge exorbitant fees just because they knew somebody came from abroad. Pardon me but I do think these countrymen of mine should be hanged on the cross, and not only that, hanged upside down on the cross, for giving the wrong impression of the Philippines when we should all be doing our part in promoting it.
On the media, I do get wary of press junkets. It’s when everyone shows their best side and service is at its finest. I would be curious to know what goes on behind the scenes when the photographers and cameramen have left. People in the service and hospitality industries would do well to establish their own standards and benchmarks, even if you’re no 5-star hotel but just a small B&B like in this case.
Hi Eric. I will text you…
How true and how profound Dominique. But I hope you also understand that blogs now hold a certain power. A good blogger should blog with substance but a reader should discern that not everything they read in blogs should be believed, or even tried out because we are after all talking here of subjective feelings and experiences.
Manuel Viloria says
Is this a trend, Ajay?
People read glowing reviews (whether about places to visit, or restos to dine in), and then get surprised/disappointed when they don’t experience the same thing. Or when they get swayed by the negative reviews of their non-blogging relatives.
Sometimes, the blogger’s credibility is questioned, whether by the reader or by the blogger.
I dunno. Whether a positive or negative review was written in a blog or in a newspaper column, it still referred to an event at a certain point in the past. And just like the weather, situations can significantly change in a short span of time.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for us readers to treat resto reviews like diamonds. Or perhaps we just wish the review would last forever, because we also want to experience it ourselves.
Oh well, caveat reader. 🙂
That’s the risk in blogging Manuel. When we sound like we’re endorsing something, the reader can get back to us if his experience is not as positive. So yes I agree, a caveat should always be in order:cool:
ajay, i already sent u an email. sama si vina…
why do people tend to believe everything that is written on the blogs? what is written in a blog is a personal experience of the writer, and not necessarily an endorsement of that place.
readers should be responsible enough to discern the difference between a product endorsement, and resto review in a blog.
kaya nga blog ang tawag eh.. short for WEB LOG. a log of online experiences ng isang tao.
da vah? hehe
I think readers find blogger’s reviews more credible than the newspaper because the former are not paid or they just blogged out of fun. A disclaimer of sorts should be written below a review that the opinion is the bloggers and one should not based the place on the blogger’s opinion.
Another thing I noticed, customer service is not as sophisticated in provincial resorts except the 5 star hotels. Their customer service is almost non-existent.
hmm, interesting. Not entirely sure why these complaints have been posted on a blog. Surely it would be best to send them to the management at the hotel in question? Of course some pople do like to complain; and make sure a lot of poeple hear their complaint. Of course I am not suggesting that this is the case here; just making a point.
And we all know that blogs are just personal opinions; don’t we? What is the phrase I am looking for….yes..one man’s wine is another man’s poison. As far as I can see Ajay gave her honest opinion of what she thought of the place, and I stress HER opinion, so please address your complaints to the appropriate people and do so at the appropriate time.
And please do bear in mind : “caveat emptor” (‘the commercial principle that the buyer is responsible for making sure that goods bought are of a reasonable quality, unless the seller is offering a guarantee of their quality’)
Of course this does raise the issue of what constitutes ‘reasonable quality’ and ‘guarantees’ pertaining to this notion………..
hi ajay…thanks for dropping by in my blog…
i think i agree with eric… some people use web blogs for business ads which they can get it free…and some are blogging from out of their personal sharings and experiences. blogging now is an epidemic yet therapuetic…and really tend to be personal to satisfy personal interest. its a personal view from own intellectual capacity, social belongingness, without setting limits. not adhering any standards only and as long it suffice the writer not the reader. so for, the readers, they must be careful of what and how much they are being entertained by such a blog. they said that personal experiences reveals some truth..yes it is…but the responsibility here always rely on the reader…u need to weigh things base on what u read, what u hear, and based on what u have believe from the presented facts so far . if not satisfied, search more! i think thats the best thing to do. i did so many things by and tru blogs. cooking & recipe reviews, hotel reviews, film reviews, airline bookings, and more. but i check many sites to help me decide 🙂
Ok Eric, seeyou two:wink:That should be exciting…
I agree with you Noemi, the provincial outlets need finetuning. Maybe the DOT should embark on a service campaign or something…
Why, thanks for saying your piece on the matter, Lawrence. Although I have no complaints about this reader sending her complaint to me; after all, she went to the place because a blog had good things to say about it and needs a medium to vent her frustration, perhaps.
You’re right Ams, it’s the reader’s call already. Or Sometimes it’s just luck and intuition that you try out a place and it turns out fine. Hope this will be a learning experience for everyone.
I guess this should remind us that reviews should be taken with a grain of salt…and websites/brochures more so… i think i’d have been grandly miffed as well but i would have taken it up with the manager…
oh and i also wouldn’t assume the brewed coffee was free actually… unless it was clearly stated as complimentary… 🙂
(oh and re the post above this… am mighty afraid of horses so kalesa rides give me fevers, nyahahaha)
Joy Neri says
I would just like to make it clear that I posted a blog about my unfortunate experience with tahanan ni Aling Meding not in any way to put blame on the bloggers…it was just that I wanted readers to see another side of the story…my experience with the place need not mean it will be the same with the others…I was just trying to emphasize caution with expectations…I did mention that I was moved to see the place because of their brochure. The good reviews from people who have actually gone there just made it even more appealing. Sad to say, though, we failed to get what the brochure promised and what Ajay experienced. I must admit it was written out of frustration and even tried to take it back and decided to just write the establishment about my complaints. I felt a little selfish to put down an establishment and compromise local tourism at that just because I had a bad day. But, well, if blogs are made to speak of personal experiences, then I have done just that. Let it not be misconstrued as pointing a finger at people who have had a better a experience.
Connie Veneracion says
“I am still amazed that some bloggers can bloghop like a rabbit and treat the whole thing like some form of electoral campaign or popularity contest.”
Eh, Ajay, I think some bloggers are actually entering the 2007 elections. Not me, of course. So bloghopping and linking has been started a few months back as a form of campaign. There are blogs nga na maka-link lang naging aggregator na.
Wilson Borja says
This is Wilson Borja one of the owner of the Tahanan Ni Aling Meding. I read your article and it was so disappointed about what you had written. If you were treated that way–my sincere apologize. If you were impressed about the place–our sincere appreciation that you like the place as what you had written on your article. Anyway you can not please everybody. If you want your money back Iam very willing to give it back to you. I will be in San Pablo on February 2008 or you can give me a call at 049-562-5851 for your refund–with no question ask.
You are right, you really can’t please anyone. And what might worked for you before might not have worked for others now. And yeah, I should be putting that disclaimer on my blogs, too: at your own risk. 🙂