Businesses have every right to say whatever they’d like through social media, but smart company owners won’t post pictures and comments that ridicule customers.
A Lake Stevens cafe is dealing with criticism on Facebook and Yelp after the owner banned a woman’s kids from the shop because they left crumbs on the floor.
The owner also posted a picture of the mess on social media.
Kellea Poore, a military mom whose husband is deployed right now, took her kids to the Lake Stevens library and then decided to buy them a treat at the Rainy Days Cafe nearby.
“We went inside, we ordered, everything was fine, and we sat down,” she told our news partner KING 5. “I had my 1 year old in my lap and my 3 year old sitting in the chair next to me.”
Poore says she wasn’t there long when the owner of the cafe came up to her table and pointed out the crumbs her kids were dropping on the floor from the scones they were eating.
“The woman came up and she basically told us there was going to be a worker coming over and she was going to vacuum up the mess and that they had just spent $50 cleaning the carpets and she didn’t appreciate us making such a mess, and that next time if we decided to come in, not to bring our kids,” she says.
Poore left the cafe with her kids and a friend.
She probably would have told a few of her friends what had happened and that would have been it. But the shop owner decided to post a picture on the Rainy Days Cafe Facebook page which has about 1,300 “likes.”
The photo shows crumbs on a brown carpet with this comment from the business owner: “Like to take a moment to thank our customers with small children whose kids don’t make a mess. A couple of ladies came in today and this is the mess their children made.”
The mom saw the post and shared it on her page. From there it was shared dozens of times until there were more than 1,200 comments on two posts about the incident.
“A mistake in judgement and poor choice of words is one thing and could be forgiven. But this lady stands by the fact that she banned this woman’s children, that’s the unforgiving part,” writes Miriam Niki Maple.
“The owner does not care about kids. That is why she told the mom in front of the two tiny tots to not bring them back,” writes LeAnne Elizabeth.
A few are sticking up for the business. Barbara Odegard writes, “Kids out of control with a Mom who didn’t care was the problem, not the crumbs…No one gets tossed out of a restaurant unless they are obnoxious to the nth degree.”
The comments continue on Yelp, where the business has a 2.5 star rating out of five with about 30 reviews.
“Don’t bring your kids, don’t get scones and be sure to pack yourself a portable vacuum in case you make a mess,” writes Tami W. “Do expect the owner to be sarcastic, rude and disrespectful if you don’t follow my advice.”
The owner has since removed the post.
“It’s not that I don’t like kids, it’s just that we have to make a conscious business decision about the level of maturity of children that come in here,” owner Lorraine MacDuff says.
MacDuff insists that she likes kids, sponsors several local youth sports teams, and welcomes them in her shop.
“We love kids and it’s not a matter of not liking kids, again, it’s about executing my right to refuse service to anybody, it’s not targeting, I didn’t know they were military wives.”
On her Facebook page, MacDuff wrote: “I want to apologize for posting that picture. It was not right to do that and I am deeply sorry for any embarrassment it might have caused anyone.”
Poore thinks that’s a “half apology.”
“It’s not apologizing for her behavior in the store, and that was the most humiliating part, to be berated by someone who owns the shop, and you just paid money to buy their product.”
My suggestion to businesses – actually, my plea – is don’t put things like this on social media.
The customer is not always right, but a company will always look wrong when it posts negative comments about its patrons.
By LINDA THOMAS