Cafe ‘called me a racist and an a***hole’
THE daughter of a retired politician is calling for a boycott of a Brisbane cafe, claiming the owner bullied her online in retaliation for feedback on their Facebook page about a lack of highchairs.
Kylie Lindsay, 41, said she left a polite review on the page of Windsor's popular Low Road cafe saying she and her partner Luke had hoped to try the cafe with their 15-month-old son, but were told on arrival there were no high chairs.
Ms Lindsay, of The Grange, said the feedback, and the original response from the cafe, was "quirky but OK" but that things then unexpectedly escalated, including the business owner looking up her profile and calling her unfounded names including racist.
She said they then deleted their posts.
"We would have loved to have tried this morning, but were very disappointed when we arrived to find you don't have a high chair," Ms Lindsay's original review stated.
"Appreciate it's your business and your choice, but it means that young families like ours aren't able to enjoy your hospitality and support a local business."
Ms Lindsay said after receiving an explanation about the lack of high chairs, she shared it to an online parenting group, a common practice among online parenting groups.
"I only shared it as an FYI to mums as I'd not come across a cafe ... that didn't have a high chair," she said.
"Until they called me (names) and told me it was my loss."
In their original response, the cafe owners said: "We also have a young family and appreciate that child wrangling is a unique hell".
"We don't have high chairs because our space is small and we've had accidents where people trip over them. Also people leave them covered in crap and it hurts our feelings."
"As I pointed out to you this morning, you are more than welcome to bring your pram in."
Ms Lindsay she was shocked by the subsequent responses. "I thought I was incredibly polite with a suggestion or some feedback, including saying I would like to support a local business, but then I was attacked unmercifully," she said.
"They called me a racist and an arsehole.
"They went to town on me and even complete strangers who dared to stick up for me."
Ms Lindsay added a one star review explaining it was due to the response.
"They ... told me it was my loss. Then they attacked people I don't even know who supported my post," she wrote.
Underneath the review, the Low Road cafe responded with:"You are an arsehole, and when questioned you deleted all of your comments. Your profile tells us you're a racist too. Keep your one star review. We do not need you.'
Low Road cafe owner Naomi, who asked for her surname to not be used, said everything she does was "tongue in cheek."
Naomi, who posted a screenshot of Ms Lindsay's second review on her Instagram page with the caption "When the daughter of a former Liberal MP really hates not getting her way," told The Courier-Mail she felt like she had responded to Ms Lindsay's initial review appropriately.
"I feel like we answered her at the time, but she went and shared it over the parenting groups," she said.
"A regular sent us a screen shot and said she's trying to make us out to be anti-family.
"She's going to get called an arsehole if she goes rabbiting on.
"We are a small mum and dad business, we are cheeky and we're not professional by any stretch."
Ms Lindsay said she assumes the owners searched for her name on google to find out that she was the daughter of retired MP Peter Lindsay, which she said, had nothing to do with the situation.
"It's feedback given to a business and they've chosen to make it personal and it's bullying," she said.
"Being personally attacked and stalked by people you don't even know is a very upsetting thing to happen. It just happens I really hate bullies and I'm not going to back down to them."
Naomi said she deleted posts after people who had never been to the cafe started leaving comments and it turned into "a group of strangers yelling at each other."
"We're just people. ... Her husband told us to muzzle our child," she said.
"It's about someone wanted something and couldn't get it and decided to make life hard for us.
"If she did respect a businesses' decision to not have one, she would go about her day and not share it in parenting groups."
Ms Lindsay said her partner did not mean to literally muzzle the woman's children.
"What he was saying was this has become really childish. … He was referring to all of their friends that had come online and were attacking people."
A number of people posted support for the cafe owners and their responses.
"I am a regular at this cafe and have been taking my son there since the first week he was born," one woman wrote.
"The staff are so obliging they would probably offer to carry your bub for you while you sipped your latte."
However many others expressed dismay.
" … What a terrible way to run a business. And they've shown everyone publically just how much they don't value their customers with name calling," another wrote.
Queensland University of Technology business school Associate Professor Gary Mortimer said it was "vitally important" for business owners to understand the implications of social media.
"If people make a complaint you've got to respond and you've got to respond professionally," he said.
"The worst thing you could do is respond negatively."
Prof Mortimer said emotions often came into play with small businesses.
"We need to understand that with mums and dads running small businesses, emotions do come into play," he said.
"There's a professional or proactive way to deal with complaints or criticism.
"Then there's the defensive way 'that's our business, not yours'. … and the worst and least frequent and extreme is to launch a personal attack on the critic."
Prof Mortimer said businesses should look at negative feedback and use it to change and create grow more value for their business.