Reputation Ripoff: Bar Posts Photo of Non-Paying Customer on Facebook
This past week a “serial dine and ditch” customer met his match when he walked out without paying his tab at Brewers Cabinet in Reno, Nevada. Angry over the un-paid $100 check, an employee snapped the man’s photo and his boss posted the photo on the company Facebook page with a note urging people to turn the man in to the police.
Oh, how mobile phone photography has changed our world.
The post went viral and soon news agencies all over the globe had picked up the story. And speaking of picking up, the man was also picked up by Reno police. His defense? That he didn’t realize he’d gone out without a means to pay and had ever intention of coming back to settle his bill.
Funny thing, according to the local news, the man has had this problem on numerous occasions. Imagine that.
I think we can all agree that a person should pay their bar tab. And we can agree that $100 is a big loss, especially for a small batch brewery like Brewers Cabinet. But was it a smart move to post this man’s photo on Facebook?
Even if he is guilty, isn’t there a legal issue involved in posting derogatory statements and a photo of a another person?
And what did this post due for the bar’s reputation? They had plenty of supporters leave comments but some people thought the posting was inappropriate. It was a matter for the police to handle, not the public. Let’s take this a step further. What if, by posting this man’s picture, it incited someone to hunt him down and hurt him? Not like we haven’t seen that kind of vigilantly justice before. What if the whole thing really was a misunderstanding. Suppose the waiter pocketed the $100 and told his boss the man didn’t pay? (I’m not saying he did. . . )
My point is, we don’t know what actually happened. All we have is one side of the story and a very public outcry that could have led to disaster.
In this case, the story ended well and Brewers Cabinet is probably going to see a spike in business for the next few weeks. But is that really how the company wants to be known? As the people who publicly called out a crook on their Facebook page? Is that what branded social media is for?
What do you think? Was posting a dead-beat’s photo on Facebook a bad brand move or was it worth the press and goodwill they got from local supporters?