Imagine if the Soup Nazi had a Twitter account

Bit of a twitterstorm this morning over the way the owner of Emma's Pizza in Cambridge publicly slammed a customer who not only had the nerve to ask for meatballs on a "pressed veggie sandwich" but then made a scene when told that would cost extra. More specifically, on Saturday, Emma's tweeted:

where in 'substitutions are welcome' does it read it's free? Adding meatballs to a Pressed Veggie Sdwch is nasty and will cost u, dumbass.

When a follower complained about the tone of those 140 characters, the pizza place replied:

She made a scene in my store when she was told how much something that is not on the menu cost. Called like seen + MYOB.

I never mentioned names which hardly makes it a public berating. I'm wondering who asked you how to run my biz anyway? #MYOB

When more Twitter followers suggested calling out somebody as a dumbass in a public forum was not the best way to handle things, and that such tweeting might even cause them to reconsider their pizza options in the future, Emma's stood firm:

we're being twitter bullied

a woman refused to pay for what she ordered and ate at my store, she is a dumbass. Why chime in when you don't know?

This morning, though, Emma's got a bit more conciliatory, after Jesse Kanson-Benanav suggested that in an era when "teens are killing themselves from online bullying," complaining about meatball complaints on Twitter might be a bit much:

did not intend to make light of bullying. promise. sorry to anyone offended on that note. woman who didn't pay is still a dumbass.

Christine Koh, who does social-media consulting, offers some advice to Emma's and other small businesses who deal with dumbasses: Count to 10 and then just don't complain about them publicly like that.

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    Comments

    oy

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    Looks like the Cambridge fascistas were out in full force this weekend. Must have been the fall like weather.

    Whats wrong with calling a dumbass a dumbass? Furthermore,

    The customer is usually wrong, get over it.

    That's it. Mandatory

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    That's it. Mandatory customer-service employment for at least 12 months for everyone under the age of 18.

    How about mandatory...

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    ...social media training for any entitled, self-important business owners?
    I'm reading about dumbass gaffes like this more and more these days... clearly there's something that's causing these people to not "get it."

    You know what's causing people not to "get it"

    By on

    Pushy little twerps who think a restaurant is their little sandbox to pee in whenever they choose. They have the right to refuse you service at any time and that's what arrogant little snowflakes don't "get."

    I feel bad for Emma's

    The restaurant is probably in the right, and that Tweet blasting probably felt good at the time, but using social media in this way is ultimately just not good for the restaurant.

    Asshole customers will always be an issue, but Twitter is not a business-savvy place to vent about them.

    There are ways to complain about customers

    By on

    To let folks know what you put up with, without calling the offenders "dumbasses" and possibly alienating other customers who don't want to worry about being pummeled or something when they open the door.

    Joanne Chang offers a good example of how to do it.

    I feel even worse...

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    that in modern society stealing from tip jars and treating counter people like human garbage is accepted while calling people out publicly for the way they acted in public is somehow a capital offense.

    Good for Emma's. If you're afraid an establishment is going to spit in your food, you're likely aware that you act inappropriately in public settings and in restaurants in particular and are just looking to avoid places that don't reward bad behavior.

    In New York, New Jersey, Philly and even here in the North End and certain Irish pubs, there exists a social compact between restaurants and their customers based on the consequences of certain actions. If you're going to be difficult or downright rude to your server (who is not your servant, as one of our city's best food bloggers points out), be prepared for either 1) An extraordinarily long wait for your food 2) A trip to the back of the pecking order 3) A curt response from the server or 4) A rare use of a restaurant's right of refusal.

    My guess is that Emma's likely felt bad about the bullying remark, but in no way feels bad about the initial tweet. They shouldn't. That's a customer they didn't need and one that, in the end, usually costs a business more in delays and turnover than they'd ever spend in the shop over their lifetimes. I'm an infrequent Emma's customer who'll be a regular now that I know I'll never have to wait behind a petulant child like Jeanine Veggie Meatball.

    They should probably

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    take a cue from Myers and Chang's great twitter feed, where they often complain about dumb customers, but do so in a comedic and ultimately charming way...

    I thought that WAS comedic..

    ...AND charming. At the old Emma's location, everyone was treated like that...and it was funny as hell (to everyone!). People sure have lost their sense of humor over the years.

    "To everyone"? You sure

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    "To everyone"? You sure about that? People who are ganged up on often feel that the only way to prevent further discomfort is to go along with the group think. Kind of the essence of bullying. Take a few minutes and think about it, please.

    I dont' have a few minutes...

    but I had a few seconds. I honestly don't recall what I meant by "to everyone". I may have meant to say they were rude "to everyone" rather than everyone thought it was funny, and got lost in the shuffle while editing my post.

    But one thing's for sure. My statement about out people having no sense of humor has been validated.

    +1

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    Nicely done.

    How much extra will it cost

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    How much extra will it cost me to: Get an actual crust for my pizza instead of that dry, cracker they normally serve? Also, is it extra to get actual sauce, seasoned with oregano and other spices, instead of the bitter tomato paste they smear on the top of their crackers? While we're at it, is cheese extra?

    Depends on Location

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    On the right side of the river you have to go to Pino's in Cleveland Circle or if in the North End, Ernesto's.
    On the wrong side of the river, Pinocchio's in Harvard Square is pretty good.
    Emma's is fairly well known as kind of a dump with cranky staff.

    How wrong can someone be

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    So I guess you will be back at papa Gino's in the morning... It's not your typical pizza, and it's not suppose to be, but you obviously have had a bad experience. Are you the meatball veggie lady?

    MYOB?

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    Seems that telling another customer to MYOB after you threw it out on Twitter is a bit ridiculous. There are better ways to handle jerk customers (and good customers who disagree with you in a public setting).

    This is just a guess

    But I'm betting the customer in question was trying to get a meat sandwich for the price of a veggie. Veggie sandwiches are often cheaper at places like this- she probably thought she could get away with getting meat for the lower price of the veggie and got nasty when she was called out on it.

    It was a ridiculous request and a ridiculous reaction from the customer. She was, in fact, being a dumbass. Whether the restaurant should have tweeted that fact is up for debate. Personally, it doesn't bother me. It's not like Emma's is a super fancy place- let them have a little attitude.

    And some quick research does confirm- the pressed veggie sandwich is $7.50. The toasted meatball hero? $8.50.

    Ah, Yelp...

    By on

    a bedrock of fact and empirical analysis.

    Zing!

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    Zing!

    Her side

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    At least it is her side of the story, whether she put it on Yelp, Livejournal or Facebook.

    I can't help but be torn over

    I can't help but be torn over this. In the not-too distant past, I worked part-time for several years at both Legal Seafoods and a pizza place in Somerville. I've seen my share of terrible customers. On the other hand, I've seen how entitled, even downright bratty, Cambridge restaurant owners and servers can be. Let's face it, almost nobody from out-of-town ever returns home gushing over how fantastic their service was in Cambridge. Maybe it's cultural, maybe it's the world's most over-educated restaurant personnel feeling resentful--whatever it is, it's pretty rough. Once, while at a bar/bistro on Mass Ave, my wife and I stopped for drinks and were told by the owner/manager in a condescending tone, about 45 minutes before the place was set to close (their closing time was earlier than bar time, BTW), that we should speed-up finishing our drinks. Maybe it was because we were the only two customers she had at the moment and she wanted to take-off early, but as I suggested to my wife, if the owner/manager has that kind of attitude, maybe there's a reason she had only two customers. This place also featured the alluring combo of an moderately-expensive, almost-arrogant menu and a soundtrack provided by the likes of Third Eye Blind and Matchbox 20--but I digress.

    Calling-out a difficult customer in public is a major turn-off. I see no reason why the owner couldn't have been firm, to-the-point, and polite. Instead, she raced the customer to the bottom, and by taking the dispute public on Twitter, won the race. Seriously, she had to make an editorial comment about the person's order being "nasty?" That's flat-out immature and catty. Upon request, I've provided ketchup to somebody who wanted it on his medium-rare yellowfin, but I never smirked, let alone tweeted about it.

    I've eaten at Emma's once and really enjoyed the food; however, couple this incident with their awkward location and inconvenient hours (I wonder how much business Tommy Doyle's gets from people who get to Kendall and discover that Emma's is closed), and it looks like it's going to be a while before I'm back.

    Tommy Doyle's?

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    I'd walk the extra 50 feet to CBC.

    Though I liked CBC even better when the menus weren't so fancy and didn't have the cool logo.

    TD's? For real?

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    I'm sure it's a long walk from your Harvard frat house, but maybe you'll understand
    A) what "good beer" is
    and
    B) it can be had mere steps away at CBC or Friendly Toast.

    Good DAY SIR!

    This is a great post. I

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    This is a great post. I honestly wish I knew you in real life. You're a quality chap.

    Being serious and not sarcastic, just so you know. Hard to tell over the Internet sometimes.

    Sure, the customer was wrong

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    Customers are frequently wrong. But you never, ever, insult them in public. Others are watching, and this gives a bad impression of you. You can call out the situation; "man, I wish customers wouldn't ask for extras and not expect to pay for it." Calling out an individual causes you to come across as intolerant and prone to knee-jerk reactions. Remember that people more easily recall negative comments. If ever I find myself standing outside this establishment, I'll be remembering that the owner called a customer a "dumbass" before I recall that someone said they love the food.

    Oh, and telling people to "MYOB" on Twitter? Really?

    MYOB

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    Oh, and telling people to "MYOB" on Twitter? Really?

    Guess we know which restaurant staff snort lines of grated parmesan after hours.

    Key missing fact: Did the

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    Key missing fact:

    Did the staff tell the customer of the extra charge while taking the order, or was the customer only informed of this on the bill?

    I'm with the store

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    More companies should be unafraid to call it like it is. Just because someone's a patron it doesn't mean they're entitled to act anyway they want and still garner any respect. If what the store said is true (and comparing some customers to some score owners, I can believe it), then a dumbass is a dumbass. These are the kinds of morons that go around blaring "the customer is always right" like it's a license to excuse their crappy behavior.

    To go further, I'm waiting for the day when some godawful "organization" (i.e., hate group) announces a boycott of a company and that company decides to turn around and tell them they don't want their bilious money so they can go eff themselves.

    Not only that

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    But they're also the sort of customer that ruins it for everyone else. Cutting in line, being rude, trying to get away with something, tying up the line, ect.

    Update: Owner apologizes

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    Took several tweets to do it:

    dear everyone, sorry to have made such a SM mess of ourselves. i accept full responsibility for choosing my words so poorly and for not remembering that the people i'm reaching are the ones who i might rub the wrong way. i was just looking for a laugh to wipe away a less than memorable moment at the store. the last thing i would want to do is to put a bad taste in anyone's mouth, it's the opposite of what i try my hardest to do for a living. i apologize to the crew for casting a gloomy shadow over what they do for a living. too this has been a humbling experience, and i pledge to use this forum more responsibly and with you all in mind. truly yours, jeff w, owner

    I had 2 slices of the green

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    I had 2 slices of the green olive special today. Delicious. Calling a jerk - a jerk won't stop me from getting take away here.

    Good

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    It seems like these days people have no idea that an apology goes a long way. Instead, they choose to double down and factions form and we all are worse for it. This isn't a big issue in the grand scheme of life but it's good to see a good outcome.

    There is a Yelp review I

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    There is a Yelp review I linked above. According to her, she wasn't told and the price was more than the $2 above the cost of the meatball hero.

    ok.. I have two points to make.

    1. Yelp. this person's credibility just went screaming out the window. Yelp is known for people clamouring to be *first* to review a place, and even more for its members threatening to post collective bad reviews about a place unless they get some free crap from them. Waiter, there's a fly in my soup--now comp my entire party's meal post haste, or me and my 853 "friends" on Yelp will rip your restaurant a new corn chute by posting negative reviews!

    2. Of course it would cost more...they wanted veggies PLUS the meatballs.

    My favorite yelp review

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    is of the old Roadhouse in Brookline (now American Craft). Of the many negative reviews that popped up in the first month or so of its existence, a non-drinking vegetarian gave the place (a beercentric bbq joint) ... 2 stars! Shocker!

    Yelp is a creepy cult. And the fact that two "yelpers" have posted in this thread, and not stepped up to defend yelp's has me worrying for their well-being!

    Yelp has its uses

    Like all statistically driven things, you have to look beyond the summary and look at the data directly. If you do that, Yelp is totally your best friend on the road.

    I usually screen out the highly negative reviews - usually whiners, self-appointed/self-styled and unemployed restaurant critics, or people casting vague aspersions on behalf of a competetor.

    Then I look at the bulk of the reviews. If these are trending negative, I don't go. Trending positive? I'm there.

    On the bus to NYC, I used the wifi and Yelp to locate a really fabulous spot for a romantic anniversary dinner that suited myself and my husband and our budget, and book 9pm reservations. The place was beyond expectations. We also used Yelp to locate a top-notch sandwich joint near our bus drop off point, as well as a fabulous Mexican breakfast near our hotel.

    I've done this in about ten different cities. Ignore the dramatics and Yelp is a godsend.

    Yelp is only useful to an extent

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    Yelp makes money as an extortion scam. There's a well-documented practice of their salespeople contacting a business and saying that negative reviews will be buried if the business signs up with Yelp.

    i got somethin to say...

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    i've never been to emma's before but i am definitely going to eat there now. as a vegetarian of eighteen years i have had more experiences than i can can remember where the restaurant was not willing or helpful to make substitutions for me to be able to eat their food. so even tho i actually think they are in the wrong for insulting the customer's taste i also think it's quite hilarious that a carnivore was treated in the same way. it's about time! haha... more importantly tho, it makes me happy to see that the owners of emma's are standing behind their right to not be disrespected by their customers. as a retail worker of also about 18 years i am infinitely sympathetic to all those who work with the public. it's unbelievable, the absolutely inhuman behavior of some people when confronted with as simple a situation as learning the price of the merchandise. in my experience these type of people are not the ones who will simply take their business elsewhere, but indeed, they believe it is your obligation to serve them and will probably be back to torture you further. as a final note, i'd also like to state for the record my opinion that hollywood has it wrong depicting NYC as the city without etiquette (no, i'm from detroit), as cambridge by far has the absolute worst and most douche bag customers in all of the many places in this country i've worked thus far!!!!!

    whew!(wipes brow). peace.

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    Spoken like a man...

    By on

    whose coffee is regularly tainted with urea.

    It is true, though.

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    It is true, though. Cambridge draws entitled residents. Which is fine until these residents treat people badly, which they invariably do. Their mindset cannot be contained forever, so it eventually expresses itself in an anti-societal manner.

    I lived in Cambridge for three years, which is long enough to have observed that this behavior is endemic to the city.

    I'd like to piss on Cambridge too!

    By on

    I've had my moments of lowest hope for humanity in the People's Republic. I'm not sure if it's just the atmosphere of humanistic socialist Commonwealth that leads to great expectations that are then tremendously let down by just run of the mill assholishness or if it's the cheek and jowl of pretentious hypocrisy that is higher education (most stereotypically exemplified by Harvard, but also present at our area's other universities) or maybe it's their water supply, but Cambridge and Cantabrigians will frequently piss me off to the point of a coronary. Rude people who think no one on the planet exists but them and then go off talking about how to make the world a better place....why not start by not walking straight into me, causing me to spill coffee all over myself and then NOT saying excuse me or maybe say thank you when someone holds a door open for you.

    Just common courtesy seems to ironically be a nonexistent thing in a town where they want to pass resolutions in support of endangered grasshoppers in Nepal or some such make-me-feel-good-and-superior-about-myself horseshit.

    Going to Santarpio's or Kelly's roast beef you just don't expect much in terms of the milk of human kindness, so when you get at least a smile or a thank you, you feel good about it.

    And yet, at the end of the day I keep going back into Cambridge. So who's the hypocrite (or masochist) here?

    Two seemingly contradictory things:

    By on
    1. The customer was probably wrong, and may very well have been a jerk, too.
    2. I used to go to Emmas occasionally. No more. The owner's immature, petulant outburst, even with the subsequent apology, has cost them my business permanently. I just don't want to patronize businesses that exhibit that attitude. I found the "MYOB" comment considerably more offensive than the original tweet.

    Strangely enough ...

    My teen boys head for Emmas whenever they raid the Garment District. They go on their own, and they have never said they got any attitude from the servers or the owner when they have. Teen boys on their own are often the targets of much automatic nastiness and rudness and pushiness (often before they even have a chance to be jerks), so I would expect that they would receive such treatment off the bat if it were just the staff being cranky and rude as a rule. I've been there numerous times when my husband worked a couple blocks away and I have never seen any problems beyond a patient staff member or the owner trying to explain to an annoying entitled customer that they don't do slices of every pizza on the menu - just what is on the slice menu on a given day.

    Perhaps you simply reap what you sow.

    Sounds to me like....

    ....you must have done a good job raising your boys, and you taught them how to conduct themselves in public, and on someone else's property.

    Used to eat lunch there 2x

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    Used to eat lunch there 2x per week for years when I worked nearby. Always ordered a small pizza and a beverage and tipped well. However, I stopped abruptly after they asked a co-worker and I to move tables (while we were eating) THREE TIMES in the span of less than 40 minutes. Were they apologetic? No. Did they comp us a soda even? No. I get that lunch is their money-making couple of hours and I never minded being moved once, but three times is BS. Never went back... too bad since their pizza rocks.

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    not entitled, just don't like being yelled at

    By on

    hey, i'm the dumbass customer. since i joined yelp a few years ago i have only written 3 reviews, 2 of them positive, so i don't think i'd call myself a yelper of the type someone described in the comments above.

    if you read my review, you can see that i wasn't being a jerk, and i didn't want something for free. i did ask for something unusual, and i was legitimately confused about the bill and asked a question. in response i was immediately verbally attacked - in person, not on the internet, by someone at least a decade my senior who could stand to learn how to use an indoor voice. i didn't make a scene - but i was very angry at being talked to so rudely, and not willing to be bullied in person.

    emma's is a great place, and i was not trying to cost them business - i made clear in my review that the food and service is a-ok. i just hope that the owner softens a little. that's all.

    Kudos to you

    Thanks for getting on here and telling your side of the story.

    (edited...once again I can't spell fer shyt)