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An ethical dilemma on TripAdvisor: what do you think?

By - Aug 24, 2014 - Category Practice - Print Print - Version française
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Read this anecdote submitted by one of e-ostadelahi’s readers, answer the two poll questions and share your comments!

Let us note at the outset that the point is not to reach an answer that would be “right” or “wrong” in the absolute sense. Reality is far too complex to be summarised in that way. While the anecdote reported here is real, the exercise is virtual. This poll is only meant to trigger reflexion and discussion.

An ethical dilemma…

We had looked up somewhat systematically comments and ratings shared by fellow travellers on TripAdvisor, in order to plan a few days of vacation. For those unfamiliar with it, TripAdvisor is a website that allows you to find out what other travellers have thought about a hotel, a restaurant, or a touristic resort they have tried, about a monument or an exhibit they have visited, about a tour guide they have hired, etc. You have to be cautious in assessing these reviews of course, but when 98% of the 500 people who have tried a restaurant thought it was excellent, you can reasonably expect not to be completely disappointed. These reviews and ratings are very important for professionals in the tourism industry who proudly advertise the good ratings they have received on TripAdvisor and encourage their customers to leave positive reviews. Highly negative comments tend to have a great impact. So far, we had been very happy with the pieces of advice we had followed, whether for the hotel or the restaurants. We were confirmed in our choices as we ran into some of our compatriots who regretted not having checked their hotel’s rating before booking a room…

We had read very good reviews about a traditional hammam, and in particular, excellent comments about the massages offered there. We didn’t need much more to feel like spending some good relaxing time in that place… The experience turned out quite bitter. We were truly treated like cattle: rushed from one overcrowded pool to the next and then to the massage area, which was just as overcrowded. It was like a tourist factory. As soon as you entered you could see a series of perfectly aligned bodies lying down, with no privacy whatsoever and with their faces buried in the massage table structures, which only reinforced the impression that all sense of humanity had been annihilated… The massage in itself was unpleasant, rushed, even painful at times, and the staff performing it most certainly unskilled. Horrendous. I was furious when I got out (I still wonder why I agreed to lie down!) and I answered quite bluntly when the owner asked me about my experience. The conversation quickly became heated and unpleasant. As we were walking out, a young lady handed us a small card reminding us to leave a positive review on TripAdvisor…

I was exasperated. All I wanted to do was to go online immediately and leave an inflammatory comment to warn the entire world about this horrendous scam, sharing every detail about my experience, and perhaps making it sound even a bit worse than it was. But I was infuriated and I could tell that my altercation with the owner had left a few marks on my ego: not only was my judgment altered, I was now also seeking personal revenge. What I wanted most of all was to take him down for the way he had talked to me, and because I felt cheated. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best time to leave an objective review. Did I really need to leave a review anyway? I suddenly wasn’t so sure anymore. On the one hand, TripAdvisor had been very useful to me until then. Negative reviews had certainly spared me many disappointments. Why not warn others of my negative experience then? But on the other hand, was it my call to criticize this place and thereby actively participate to its fall? What if some details in my comment put the staff into trouble—a staff which was probably already exhausted for being exploited during the high season? I suddenly saw myself as an informer with a very limited perspective on the situation… Wasn’t it better to let others do the criticizing—I had no doubt that there would be others in my situation—and to focus on leaving good reviews for places I liked?

What do you think?

If you are viewing this article from the mobile app, click here to participate in the poll.

Which of the following would assist Karl in correctly analysing this situation? Should he or should he not share his experience online?

Access directly to the poll results if you have already voted

2. Do you have an alternative view of the situation? Can you explain your answers? Is there anything you would like to add to the discussion?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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  1. Dottys4th Aug 25, 2014 5:46 am 1

    I think it would be important to sift out the internal voices of anger and wounded pride before even thinking of posting a negative review. If the intention is truly to help other travelers, a word of caution about overcrowding during the high season, without vindictiveness or venom, ought to suffice. If such an advisory note could truly be written without Karl’s Imperious Self commandeering the keyboard, perhaps that might have some redeeming value.
    However, I doubt that value would outweigh the potential damage a nasty review might do to the employees, etc. More to the point, I think the real question to be asked is why did this all occur in the first place? What was the cause/effect that led up to this? What lessons were meant to be learned from being put in this situation, and were the resulting thoughts, actions and words in line with God’s satisfaction or that of his Imperious Self?

  2. Saman Aug 25, 2014 11:07 am 2

    I think it would be better for him to wait until he calms down to be able to think thoroughly about the situation. Anger clouds true judgment. In my opinion everything altogether could not be totally bad, there must be also some good points about the place but since he expected it to be perfect, he was disappointed in the end. I think it is better if he writes his comments about the place with the intention to inform people about his experience not with the intention to ruin the place and if he also states some good points as well.

  3. M Aug 25, 2014 11:54 am 3

    It’s not the matter of sharing his experience or not. I think what is importsnt it’s inside of him an his intention toward sharing his experience. If his intention is seeking personal revenge he should not do it. If his intention is helping others so they don’t do the same mistake he can share it.

  4. nahjaf Aug 25, 2014 12:29 pm 4

    Whilst there may be no doubt about Karl’s imperious self playing a strong hand in his inclination to write a negative comment, thereby satisfying his hurt ego, he also has an obligation to inform others of his negative experience. For, as he has indeed benefitted from others’ experiences, be it positive or negative, he is therefore duly obligated to post his experience as impartially and as sincerely as possible. However, such a posting ought to be a true account of the events without malice and vengefulness, which necessitates Karl’s endeavour to reign in the dictates of his imperious self by seeking God’s help to calm his emotions and through natural meditation to allow himself to be guided towards the right course of action.

    Conversely, through reflection and contemplation Karl may realise that this event may have been a scenario implemented by the divine system to help his spiritual progress through creating a learning opportunity for him to work on his pride, arrogance and ego. In this circumstance, he should refrain from making any comments and, if possible, leave a realistic and a positive comment instead.

    In conclusion, while these scenarios are contextually relevant to each person’s development along their spiritual progression, which implies that the right course of action can vary accordingly, the battle against the imperious self and riding oneself of negative and malevolent emotions and behaviour remains the same in each circumstance.

  5. TZ Aug 25, 2014 12:43 pm 5

    I agree with Dottys4th. Too often I am bullied around by my imperious self and in this case would not blink before posting a nasty review. The lesson here, in my humble opinion, is that he needs to fight his imperious self to be able to even think through the situation. Posting honest, albeit respectful remarks, with perhaps some suggestions for improvement, along with some comments on the positive parts of his experience (if any), might be more objective (which the imperious self doesn’t know how to do, unless it’s something it wants).

  6. Nik Aug 25, 2014 1:14 pm 6

    I think Karl should strive to do what is good for others. (the rights of others always come first)

    I think:

    1- this feeling that he had about his experience is completely personal, some people might not feel the same way.

    1- this experience is not as important as life and death to be necessary to be mentioned as a comment online.

    2- Karl already made his comment to the owner, and the owner is the one who could be involved in positive changes according to the comments that people give to him/her.

    What a bad comment might do to others:

    Negative result

    1- some staff might lose their jobs which they depend on for living.

    2- not everybody wants to use this option (the massage and …) and if they can benefit from other good facilities of the hotel for their vacation, they might lose the opportunity.

    By the way, as he said ” we didn’t need much more to feel like spending some good relaxing time in that place” so this needs some personal thinking regarding why this happend to me/us.

  7. mitra Aug 25, 2014 1:31 pm 7

    I completely agree with the comment number one. Karl should wait to cool down and not to do any immediate action. Thinking through all the things that has led to this particular event while delving into himself, he would probably find out what lessons he has to learn from it either writing a critique (without any anger) or not.

  8. shinfe Aug 25, 2014 2:11 pm 8

    I think perhaps karl has a responsibility towards those, who are close to him, therefore he can inform his family members, friends etc. about the lack of quality in this hotel. I think a sulfureous review can/would potnetially damage the owner, and employees as well. Karl should avoid damaging others in every case. You have to examin the conssequences of your deed BEFORE doing that, and even if it is unintentionall, you will come to know its reaction.

  9. David Aug 25, 2014 2:42 pm 9

    I believe Karl should, and has duty to society to, leave a fair and objective review that details his negative experience. The spa seems to have a system to “cheat” trip advisor, through their reminder of leaving a positive review. Tripadvisor empowers consumers to make better choices with their money and time. While the spa might just had a bad day, by posting this review Karl could:

    1. Caution other Tripadvisor users from going there – These reviews are exactly why trip advisor exists

    2. Improve the spa, if they, perhaps due to all their positive reviews, has started going in a direction more income-oriented and less service-oriented direction, this review might be exactly the type of signal they need to steer it back before they lose track and lose customers. This would actually benefit the staff and spa much more that silence.

    3. If the owner allowed a dissatisfied customer’s complaint to become a heated and unpleasant discussion, while at the same time having established a trip advisor reminder system, he too would benefit from being reminded of the fact that his customers exchange experiences with each other.

    4. More importantly, he would through this experience receive an opportunity to publicly make amendments through a response in trip advisor where he also gets an opportunity to give his and the spa’s side of the story, and perhaps offer Karl a free treatment, and depending on the outcome, perhaps having that negative review deleted or at least a good review added from Karl.

  10. SK89 Aug 25, 2014 3:36 pm 10

    I think it was very smart what Karl did for not commenting on the website immediately after he got out of the place. because at that moment his judgment would have been heavily affected by his anger. I think the right thing to do was for Karl to wait until he he was sure he could make a logical judgment about all the pros and cons off the spa facility and how the experience was for him at when the place was crowded. that way not only other people can know what to expect from the place in the time of rush hours but also the management could benefit from that comment and think of a solution in their private time. even if they don’t have the heart to accept Karl’s comment face to face.

  11. Mini Aug 25, 2014 3:51 pm 11

    I also agree with Dottys4th. You can give information in many ways, just a word of caution about high season should be enough. However I have been to some hotels/resorts/etc. and I had a totally different judgement about quality and experience from my family members. I realized that I am pickier than my friends and family and it makes me realize that sometimes our opinion is just an interpretation of the fact. That’s why we should be extra extra cautious not to blemish businesses’ records online. It’s a big responsibility. Sometimes people make honest mistakes and we should be more tolerating.

  12. lia Aug 25, 2014 3:53 pm 12

    I think he or she should wait until his or her anger and feeling of revenge have subsided. Once Karl has gained control over his or her emotions then he may express his or her experience objectively with the intention of being a source of information for others. Both positive and negative comments should be expressed as well as the innocent role that the employees play. He should also give his opinion in how that entity could improve and be more attractive thus successful. At the same time he should check his intentions all the way from the beginning starting to plan for his vacation and check his expectations and every motive behind everything he did since then regarding this plan and reach a conclusion as why this happened to him or her and how to avoid it next time time around.

  13. Elsa Aug 25, 2014 4:35 pm 13

    I agree with Dottys4th – however I think there are always 2 aspect to any situation/equation: An Outward aspect and an Inward aspect.

    Inwardly we should always strive to find our inner lessons and reasons as to why things happen to us. This should however be totally separate as to how we act Outwardly.

    Outwardly we should act in whatever manner needed to comply with observing our rights as well as the rights of others.

    I don’t see any harm in Karl writing his own review, it is a legitimate site for the use and help of public as well as himself – “AS” long as he does it at a time when he is not overwhelmed by his negative impulses and at a time when he has control over himself, to make sure he has the right intention, well thought over from a sound and calm mind and presented in a manner that reflects the opinion of his sound reason and not his Imperious Self!

  14. Coco Aug 25, 2014 4:38 pm 14

    In reading the story I find my sense of righteous indignation coming out. But….anytime my sense of righteous indignation raises its head, I have come to understand that it is my imperious self manipulating me through my ego. So I would not write a review because it is clearly something which my imperious self wants me to do.

  15. Nell Aug 25, 2014 4:40 pm 15

    I agree with Dottys4th, I think Karl should think
    About why he was put in this situation. After finding his
    Own personal lesson, he could decide better about his next
    Action(the review). If I was in his shoes, I would leave a review
    Accurately if it was a concern to people well being like
    “Bedbug in a hotel” but if just my ego was hurt by the situation
    I would think twice before leaving any negative review.

  16. Jean-Paul Aug 25, 2014 5:14 pm 16

    Maybe , Karl can wait a few hours to calm down so than he can analyze the situation more objectively and without a sense of revenge.

  17. Fariba Aug 25, 2014 5:20 pm 17

    I have used Trip advisor many many times and the reviews, whether positive or negative have always been right to the point. I think of the reviews on Tripadvisor to be honest, true and loaded with integrity. I think Karl should definitely write his experience and share it with others so the readers on Tripadvisor can make their own decisions. Many businesses knowing they will be rated on Tripadvisor offer better service or maybe even an apology if it happens to be coincidentally at a time they they are not offering their best service. Tripadvisor is a very helpful website to travelers and inputs , whether positive or negative are important to both the traveler and the business.

  18. Ram Aug 25, 2014 5:34 pm 18

    The most important thing is seeking within ourselves to identify our intention and also think about the impact of our actions on others. In this case, Karl was able to identify revenge in himself as well as the impact of an negative review on the employers and other travellers. I think from this point on if Karl can overcome his imperious self (anger and revenge), he even would be able to write an honest review without ruining that place reputation. Really, it was only two things need to be mentioned: number one, the place can be overcrowded depending on the time and season, and it won’t be a pleasant experience for those who really want to have their own privacy.

  19. S Aug 25, 2014 5:44 pm 19

    I totally agree with M in above comments , well said !

  20. Homayoun Aug 25, 2014 6:14 pm 20

    Based on my own experience as someone that travels all the time that I offer the following:

    We (Americans) travel to other parts of the world without studying the cultural differences, what is considered a good service or bad, what is considered polite or rude, ect. and then have a set of specific expectations from others as we would if we were in the US.

    The traveler’s description of the event sounds very bad to us, because we are used to westernized spa services; but it could be normal for a spa service in eastern culture that is called Hammam (which means a group event spa with no privacy). This Hammam is not trying to give poor service; but rather providing an experience from old days of how Hammam use to be; therefore, they are not doing anything wrong. The problem is with our expectations, not studying the concept of Hammam before getting into it.

    The other major issue with this story is the person whom in his mind is providing an honest feedback to the manager/owner of the spa. This type of candid opinion is common among us (Americans) which we think we are doing the establishment or the person a favor by providing feedback so they can improve their services. This is not the norm in other parts of world and the owner of this Hammam has been offended and his feelings are hurt; because this is not how people share opinion in other parts of the world.

    My suggestion for the traveler who wants to provide a rating is to do so; but put it into perspective by explaining that if anyone is expecting a westernized spa; then don’t do it as you will be disappointed and even worse is don’t offer your negative opinion to the owner as he will be offended; but if you are looking to experience Hammam in its true sense from eastern world of last centuries then get ready for some good beating (which is different than swedish massage that we are used to); and let go of your expectations and any privacy.

  21. Makis Aug 25, 2014 6:32 pm 21

    In my opinion the key to this article is reflection. I am an avid Yelper. Yelp is a website/phone app that gives ratings for restaurants and most businesses. I Love writing reviews on yelp and have over 100 reviews. I had been using Yelp for years without contributing my own opinion. Then I thought that I’m using this resource without contributing which is why I began writing reviews. The major difference between me and the authors experience is reflection. When I’m really happy or annoyed with an establishment my first reaction is to write a review. Sometimes I do it right as I’m leaving the business. I just tell myself that if I don’t do it now I won’t do it later. It never occured to me how emotion filled and biased my thoughts are when I’m writing them at that moment. I should wait a bit and let my anger or bliss wear off and then write a more fair and objective reviews. My not doing so is because I don’t reflect back on my actions during the day. Ideally I should set up a routine where I go back in my head and review the cucumstances and then give an honest opinion once I’m removed from the situation. Despite this I have never thought it a negative thing to write negative reviews. I’ve only done it a few times when I’ve been truly enraged and the process was actually very cathartic. It completely calmed me when I was very upset at gbe treatment I had received. I think it is important to also reflect on the effects my angry reviews will have on the business owner. I liked how the author wrote “esagerate what had happened”. I sincerely reflected on my bad reviews and realized that when I’m angry I tend to exaggerate. Thus it’s completely inappropriate to post an exasperated bad review because it harms someone’s livelihood. Thus I need to be extra carful in being objective and accurate when writing reviews that can harm soemone. This article has made me reasses how I move forward as a contributor on Yell.

  22. Mali Aug 25, 2014 7:21 pm 22

    I think, he should analyze his intention carefully with God’s satisfaction in mind and act without a sense of revenge.

  23. Ali Aug 25, 2014 7:34 pm 23

    In my opinion Karl has no obligation / responsibility to inform others if it looks to him that the way that they ( the hotel / facility) are doing their business is not up to the standard Karl expected. He also may have been expecting a higher standard because the good comments brought his expectations higher.

    If he is feels he is loosing the rights he deserved, he can fight / argue with the owner for his rights but not more than this.

    I believe if the facility is not doing as good there will be others who will go and put enough negative comments and it will affect the business in long term.

  24. Roshanak Aug 25, 2014 7:49 pm 24

    If karl decides to write a review , his comments should be objective. He should check different factors, like the price/quality. What was good as well and write his negative experience as how they could improve the service (recommendations), to others maybe this is acceptable for many different reasons of culture, time, etc.. The good thing learning from Karl experience is to give some time to yourself to see the next step when you are disappointed about a situation.

  25. Mahmoud Aug 25, 2014 7:53 pm 25

    “TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travelers and …” [tripadvisor.com]

    Are we all qualified to be advisors (i.e. offer professional and trusted advice)?
    Are the reviews generally well thought out and fair or emotionally charged and biased?
    Are we all “real” travelers familiar with places, people, and social and cultural backgrounds?
    What is my real intention behind wanting to leave a review online? Should I?

  26. Ocean Aug 25, 2014 8:23 pm 26

    Good or bad, we are living in a world where many of our choices are made after a web search!
    If you are one of those, then you might have noticed how frustrated you feel if you are looking for an advice about something or some place but you do not find enough about it on the web.
    Therefore our contribution to share our experiences might mean a lot to some others.
    As it is noted in the current post, I could ignore it and say there are others to share their thoughts so why should I bother?!
    After this introduction here is my opinion;
    Considering our negative internal impulses, responsibilities, duties, integrity, etc. is all that really matters. But none of this is necessarily against sharing my personal observation with other travelers, IF I do not add my personal judgments and interpretation into my review.
    one might have noticed that sometimes people get different impressions from the same experience. Means that something that has given me joy might not give the same feeling to another person and vice versa.
    So I think what I should be very careful of is to not be judgmental. What I have experienced in this place is not a fact!
    Therefore, I would wait for a couple of days to make sure my anger has cooled down, my ego is under some control and I am aware of my intention, then will share my observation with others.

  27. JW Aug 25, 2014 9:11 pm 27

    Dottys4th’s comment hits the spot!

    I think that Karl should not take any action and as they say he should “Sleep on it” before taking any action. This may give him the required time to calm his mind and empty his thoughts form pride and anger giving him a chance to reevaluate his true intentions and be true and fair to himself and others.

    Once more I thank that Dottys4th’s comment and line of thought is very detailed and surgical in this regard especially his or her comment about back tracking our actions and the line of cause/effect that led up to the above scenario.

    It would be wonderful to point out and discus practical tools that would encourage us to keep a sharp mind and stay frosty in the heat of the moment and prevent us from making snap decisions that will affect our spiritual well being and may result in over stepping the rights of others.

  28. K Aug 25, 2014 9:26 pm 28

    I do not think that Karl is obligated to write a review. However if he does decide to write about his experience it should be written carefully so that other users of TripAdvisor can be aware of his experience. It should not target any one specific employee and should not be written in such a manner so that the intention is for revenge or to spite the owner.

  29. Sherry Aug 25, 2014 10:04 pm 29

    Great comments. Very insightful anecdote.

    On one hand, it is important to calm down, wait and reflect (to avoid acting impulsively and then feeling regret later).

    On the other hand, intention is really crucial. Others mentioned this point as well. It does not matter ultimately whether Karl leaves a comment but rather, it is important for Karl to think about his intention: revenge, frustration, anger towards the owner or altruism, benevolence and even sympathy for potential clients?

    Suppose the owner of the hammam was someone he cared for (a relative or a friend), how would he act? What would he write? He would perhaps make useful suggestions (to the owner or even to potential customers). He certainly would not use coarse or harsh language.

    Lastly, I would add that everything happens for a reason. Instead of focusing on the external environment (and the shortcomings of others or establishments), it would be beneficial to see this as a learning experience and a way to analyze our feelings, impulses and reactions.

    What a great anecdote. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Peter Aug 25, 2014 10:42 pm 30

    I don’t think any review is necessary because by definition it will be one that is seen only through the eyes of the writer. Perhaps many others loved the way the resort was run. What is the purpose of a negative review other than to satisfy the ego of the writer? The most logical response, if you don’t like the place, is not to return. Equally, it is folly to assume that you’re going to like something or some place just because a large majority is positive about it: that is the volatile power of today’s media. It is based on the premise that, because a lot of people think this way about something then of course we must all be of the same opinion. Very often this following-the-majority policy can lead us down paths that are time-wasting and/or negative and/or unnecessarily confusing.

  31. mariasali Aug 25, 2014 10:50 pm 31

    to me it is better if first he gives himself enough time to calm down and think why this happened to him and what he wants his experience he wants next time and how to get that for the next time.
    then he can monitor his intention and purify it to the extent possible (see if there is a sign of revenge or fury in it ) then share some honest points about the place in general not going into details to avoid putting others in trouble.
    if he wants to receive honest comments he should share his honest comments too!

  32. Butterfly45 Aug 25, 2014 11:09 pm 32

    I chose “non of the above” in the poll and my rationale is as follows: writing a review is of secondary importance.
    The first priority for Karl is analysing his behaviour, intentions, and reactions.
    Karl’s explanation on his experience sounds like a subjective review to me and not based on solid facts. When I’m reading reviews, I usually dismiss these type of reviews which sound like too demanding, higher than norm expectations, egocentric & sometimes snobbish!
    If I was Karl, I would ask myself these questions: was my expectation of a hammam with touristic goals realistic? Why am I so easily offended while 98% of 500 people were not??! If I write a review now, will it be honestly to help others or is this a deceit by my imperious self to take revenge?
    Overall, I wouldn’t write the review, because I might have been wrongfully passing judgements, and would work on my ego+its high expectations!

  33. MaryS Aug 26, 2014 4:18 am 33

    I would say that he should write his experience. I know from my end, I would like to know about his experience. However, I would highly recommend him to write it in a piece of paper or word document first. That way, he can let his anger and frustration out in his writing. I would then recommend that he comes back to it with a more rational mind a few hours later and start to take out the emotions and state the facts he experienced. Sometimes putting emotions in writing helps me overcome those emotions and become more rational. I was in a situation where someone wronged me at work and I had to report it. At first, I put my anger and sadness in another word document. Then, I edited my feelings out and left the facts and logical observations of the event. I don’t feel like emotions sells bad experiences…it’s the experience itself that will say what exactly happened. This is my suggestion to the scenario.

  34. m Aug 26, 2014 4:21 am 34

    having experienced many situations in which my anger has tempted me to lash out in a “knee jerk” reaction, i would agree that it’s best for Karl to wait a few days until the proverbial dust has settled. at that time, he can think through his feeling and separate his anger from a more objective evaluation of his experience. if he sincerely feels that he can contribute truthfully yet objectively to the reviews, then he should do so.

  35. MaryS Aug 26, 2014 4:26 am 35

    @M, I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think it’s that simple. We all don’t have 100% pure intention of helping or 100% on revenge. It’s always a mix of those percentages. That’s why I think that he should write the review, but objectively. He needs to share the reality of the experience. At the same time, he needs to reflect back to himself and question what made him angry? Did he feel betrayed by the owner’s comments? Did his pride get hurt? He needs to reflect and understand how he can better himself in the situation and maybe better his intention next time.

  36. Leila Aug 26, 2014 5:05 am 36

    I think Karl should give his input but not at the moment when he is angry and only thinks of revenge, he should wait till he can get his anger under control and only when his intention is to help others rather than ruining the owner of the place.

  37. hp Aug 26, 2014 6:22 am 37

    I would suggest an extended approach based on one of the responses:

    “Karl has no obligation to share his experience. He consulted these reviews free of charge, without committing to anything in return.”

    Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are based on the notion of providing free knowledge/reviews with no obligation to contribute. Obviously, this model of reviewing and rating will release its full potential and come to fruition once people start contributing and sharing, but there is no obligation to share.

    If Karl does feel like his experience was representative and could help avoid a similar situation for other people or help other people in a similar situation or even potentially help other people speak up if they have experienced something similar (but they were too shy or lazy or both to inform others), then it would make sense for him to contribute and share his opinion.

    Before doing so, in order remain fair and try to stay as objective as possible, I think he should consider the following:

    – take a step back and make sure the situation was clearly and objectively not your fault. Could you have researched better in advance? Was there a chance that these reviews were “obviously” fake accounts and you could have seen this coming? Was the confrontation with the management unavoidable from your perspective?

    – take a step back and make sure your intentions are really pure and you only want to help others avoid such a situation

    – take a step back and make sure your review is not personal and will nor hurt anyone directly or personally, who is employed at the hotel. You are judging your suboptimal experience there and for that, there is no reason to mention anyone personally. Also, you don’t want to be responsible for someone losing their job. Maybe they just had a bad day and usually they perform very well.

  38. Red Aug 26, 2014 6:42 am 38

    As “Saman” indicated, Karl must do two things: (1) calm down and let his anger subside so it doesn’t cloud his judgement and then (2) seek what his intention is.

  39. AnoNick Aug 26, 2014 6:45 am 39

    TripAdvisor (and other review sites), travelers, tourists etc. all rely on the accurate, albeit subjective feedback of others when planning trips, so from an apparent sense there may not appear to be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the act of leaving a review since all reviews could be helpful. Having said that, what an amazing opportunity for self-reflection and restraint! From one standpoint, the individual in this scenario benefits from a system/process that relies on travelers to share their experiences. Because this individual has repeatedly benefited from this system, they too should contribute to it in the ecological sense that one should draw benefit and also benefit others in return. In that moment though, I would ask myself how often I leave reviews in general. If the answer is regularly, then I could proceed with the caveat that my intention is to provide a fair and accurate review that may benefit others. If the answer is rarely or only when I am upset, which often happens to be the case for me, then I know my imperious self is involved in some way.

    From my personal experience, when I get upset in a scenario like this, immediately writing the negative review seemingly offers a mild form of vindication that only momentarily satisfies my imperious self. I trick myself into thinking I’m doing the right thing and that my feedback will benefit others (and in fairness it possibly could), but after the emotions of the moment subside, a sense of shame overcomes me for having reacted impulsively. While not obligated, I believe this individual is well within their rights to leave a review: good, bad or otherwise but they should ask themselves what their intention is in that moment and perhaps wait until the disappointment and anger passes before they write the review.

    Is it possible that scenarios like this, which afford us an opportunity to struggle against the imperious self and act ‘in vivo’, are what separates the active student in spirituality from the ethically or spiritually apathetic?

  40. P Aug 26, 2014 7:10 am 40

    I think Karl should wait until he overcomes his anger with the situation and let his experience do the judgment rather than his anger. He is not obligated to write a review however; since feedback could be useful for other potential travelers he can be objective and share other aspect of the experience. Intention plays a big roll in this situation.

  41. Ham Aug 26, 2014 7:24 am 41

    First, he did the right thing by not posting anything immediately and waiting until he cools down and can think better and unbiased. Second, I think he does not have any obligation to the society or Tripadvisor users; however, since he has been benefiting the system and using both positive and negative reviews, it makes sense to return to the system by posting his unbiased, objective, and constructive observation including both goods and bads of his experience. Of note, he is reviewing a system (Hammam) and thus his negative review will not result in employees losing their job or harming any specific individual. Almost all comments on Tripadvisor are the readers’ personal opinion or observation and thus it is completely normal to post individual opinions or observations.

  42. Faye Aug 26, 2014 7:58 am 42

    If someone asked me about TripAdvisor, Then I would tell that person my experience.

  43. Tim Aug 26, 2014 8:51 am 43

    Everyone has a different perspective and judgment and a place or situation which looks perfect to one, may be intolerable to another. So we merely reflect our point of view, whether right or wrong. We should be very careful when leaving reviews on social medias, it could cost others’ dignities. In general, Karl had done the right thing not to leave a comment right away, and he doesn’t have to leave a very negative one later on. He can just mention the wrong day he picked to go there, the reason for not getting good service! This approach wouldn’t hurt anyone and at the same time, wouldn’t be a lie!

  44. almo Aug 26, 2014 10:33 am 44

    Putting myself in Karl’s shoes , just like a lot of previous comments mentioned , I had to check my intention. Would I be truly without any vindictiveness when reviewing that establishment ? Would I feel the same urge to write a review if I had a positive experience?
    I am not sure.Beyond conjectures ,I have no way of measuring what would be the total outwardly effect of my review for others,beneficial or harmful. However, I am sure that if I write the review with a hint of ill will , I have done wrong.
    So I simply would forget about leaving a review and focus on possible lessons that the whole experience might have had.

  45. Nahal Aug 26, 2014 12:02 pm 45

    I believe that Karl should give himself some time to calm down before he decides on writing a review He by no means is obligated to write a review and should not let his imperious self conquer him by having him write a nasty review out of vengence.

    Negatice criticism may be harmful but it may also help to bring about a positive change in service. If the owner were to begin to receive negative marks on hospitality and service he may be more opt to decrease the number of clients he books per hour so that clients may not be rushed and have more time for relaxation. I work in the medical field and after surgery patients are sent a survey to rate their experience in regards to care, staff atittude etc. These surveys have helped the hospital make important changes to increase patient satisfation. So reviews can sometimes make or break a business but can also help to bring about improved service and care.

  46. iman Aug 26, 2014 12:07 pm 46

    It is not a question of obligation in giving a comment and should also not be a revenge but simply because sharing your experience with others could help them find the right place. It can be mentioned that although the site has always had true and useful information, this time he has been upset about the result.

  47. neuro Aug 26, 2014 3:19 pm 47

    I think this statement brings up the idea of imbalance as a critical aspect of the imperious self.

    While Karl has every right to consider posting his experience, statements like “…left a few marks on my ego…i was now also seeking personal revenge” are where I think his feeling leans towards the imperious self. Once this extreme is recognized, I think Karl should fight against it by writing a warning to others on TripAdvisor in a way that does not satisfy his ego.

  48. Linda Aug 26, 2014 3:24 pm 48

    I am a yelper. When I read reviews I go straight to the bad ones (one star or two stars). I think we should give people the credit to be intelligent enough to put every comment they read in the context of the number of reviews, percentage of bad and good reviews, date of the review, etc. At a personal level, @Dottys4th has summed it up. However, despite the fact that one has no obligation to leave comments, I think if I am taking advantage of a service for free, it’s only fair to give back by writing my own experience truthfully and tactfully. After all Karl has used two services here, one for free and one that he had paid for.

  49. aprince Aug 26, 2014 8:46 pm 49

    It is completely up to Karl to decide whether he wants to share his experience or not. I think he should do it after he has gather his thoughts and not out of revenge or anger. He can inform people of his personal experience and anyone who reads the reviews whether positive or negative can or will eventually decide for themselves what they want to do.

  50. Nn Aug 26, 2014 9:12 pm 50

    I think the first and most important thing that Karl needs to analyze before taking any action is his intention of writing a review anyway. Of course our imperious self never makes this task easy for us and keeps rationalizing all our irrational thoughts and behaviors but I think his intention plays the main character in this scenario which greatly affects the quality of his action and its consequences.

  51. LA Aug 27, 2014 1:54 am 51

    Would it seem outrageous to simply hope Karl would disconnect from the material side of the issue, ie this was not money well spent…and just accept some things are not worth fighting for sooo hard.
    Reducing EXPECTATIONS, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt that it is not their intention to TAKE ADVANTAGE of us, that different cultures breed different mindsets.
    Kindness Tolerance Forgiveness and most of all no ATTACHMENT to what THINGS money can buy.

  52. BM Aug 27, 2014 3:21 am 52

    The only way that anyone can write an objective review after being mistreated and arguing is if one were a Saint. But unfortunately your imperious self will take control of the keyboard and revenge will be taken. The expression “The pen is mightier than the sword” holds true in this situation. Nik wrote that this is not a life and death situation, so no one will suffer life threatening injuries from a “cramped massage” so there is really no social obligation to inform others of the negatives of this business.
    Searching for the spiritual aspect of things will force him to look inward and analyze the reason for this mistreatment. along with the introspection he should do his utmost to defend his rights in a dignified way without losing his cool.
    This is a lot easier said than done.
    Good Luck all with your own experiences…

  53. NFN Aug 27, 2014 5:02 am 53

    What is Karl’s intention? Is it a matter of truly trying to help others or satisfying his impulse of anger? A lot of times we get heated in certain situations based on taking offense to how others talked to us or not getting things done in a certain way. It’s important to understand why things happen to us. Maybe it’s our perception or maybe our interactions caused others to act a certain way. If the service Karl expected was not up to par and he expected better, then maybe it was not the place for him. The point is what is his intention when writing that review.

  54. Irene Aug 27, 2014 9:01 am 54

    I wonder about these review sites. In a way, they sound like gossiping on a grand scale and a way to cover that gossip in a noble guise by saying the public has a right to know. Perhaps it does, but I’m not sure I’m the right person to be telling them. And for Karl to say that negative reviews had spared him many disappointments – well, you just don’t know that’s true unless you go to the places. Even if there were many negative reviews on a place, people have been known to conduct vendettas through these review sites.
    Yet most of the reviews on this place were positive. So why did the experience turn out the way it did? That bears serious thinking about, as others have said.
    Another point – through these reviews, one has, in a sense, power over the owner. Should you not choose to exercise that power generously, returning good for bad? Or at least neutral (not leaving any review) for bad?
    Speaking only for myself, I know I don’t have sufficient control over myself to think I could leave an objective review. Certainly not immediately, and probably not ever. I know myself well enough by now to be sure that I wouldn’t be able to resist getting in little digs at the place I was reviewing, turns of phrases that might appear innocuous at first glance but that overall would leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth… And my ego would delight in it all the way, especially if I were convinced that what I was saying was objective and for the good of all others who might be interested in trying the place.

  55. juneone Aug 27, 2014 12:52 pm 55

    I think that Kari could do well to use the experience for good on all fronts. First, he can think about why he is so upset. Were other people upset that were there, did he expect special treatment? He could also see what was triggered by being in that environment, and see if was bad as all that, or if it was some of it coming from inside of him. Finally, constructive criticism is good..the owners might be helped to read and intelligent review that breaks down the good and the bad, he might actually help them process how to fix it! All that really, if he has time…he shouldn’t spend a lot of energy on this.

  56. SC Aug 27, 2014 1:17 pm 56

    I agree that the review should not be written in the state of rage since it will not be objective or useful to others/anyone. Karl could wait till this feeling subsides and write a list of positive and negative aspects of his experience for himself first. This could clarify exact details of what he really was unhappy with and help identify more objective pros and cons of the establishment which could be very helpful for others to read about. On the other hand by not giving in to his imperious self by waiting, more clarity can come out of Karls personal analysis of the situation for himself.

  57. Soudabeh Aug 27, 2014 2:06 pm 57

    Five years ago I might have said that Karl should go ahead and write his opinion! Now my thoughts on that have changed. First of all I don’t think leaving reviews about any thing or any experience we have is always helpful and fair to the business. Just like some of the other people have said above his experience could be totally different than someone else. The only way we can improve a place or person is to address it to the owner if we were asked about it, and to not go back to that place. We should not put our opinion or judgment in other people’s head . I’m not completely agreed with the reviews that people put in on merchandise , businesses, movies or whatever. Many times I have read a bad review about something or some place and when I tried it I had a completely different experience or vise versa!

  58. drBonizzi Aug 27, 2014 2:09 pm 58

    In Karl’s shoes it would be impossibile to me to be one hundred percent sure that i would post an honest, impartial and disappointment-free comment. I would not risk to affect negatively a comment that could start a bad chain reaction. It would be better to me to give up defending my personal right since it’s only about me. Furthermore i don’t have any mission or responsibility about preventing other people from going to that hammam.

  59. Moe Aug 27, 2014 5:50 pm 59

    First of all, I think it is important to say that on TripAdvisor users can only rate and write reviews of registered hotels, restaurants, or touristic resorts, meaning that these businesses register on TripAdvisor because they want to know what users think about their service or product level.

    In the past, where such services like TripAdvisor did not exist, people would spread good or bad experiences between friends and relatives (Basically they would gossip about services or products of businesses to friends and relatives) and business owners would less likely have a chance to know and react about negative critiques. Today, rather than gossiping about negative experiences, users say what they want to say directly in such online platforms where businesses are aware of it. So the fact to write a positive or negative critique about some services and products on such platforms is from the business owner side expected and welcomed only if they truly want to improve their services or products.

    Having said all the above, now comes the best part. This post is definitely not a coincidence, when I was reading this, I was rather ashamed of myself because one week ago I had an exact similar scenario except that it was in a restaurant where the food was very bad. I did not even reflect the scenario on myself and went ahead and posted one day later a negative critique about the restaurant. I think, I would have written the comment anyway but I should have waited few days so that my critique would not be so emotional but rather objective.

    I learned few lessons from my own scenario: To wait and not to give a feedback immediately as it most likely will be an emotional rating rather than an objective one. To think about it, to reflect it on my own shortcomings and at last to review my intention.

  60. Emma Aug 27, 2014 6:27 pm 60

    perhaps karl should wait before posting any kind of advise on trip advisor at this time and try to think more and find out about his inner intensions before passing any judgments. maybe he should come in peace with his own train of thoughts, distinguishing the forces of his ego and his true conscious in this situation. Since he does not have all the facts in his hands and he cannot see all the factors that led to this situation ( ex: maybe this was just one time thing due to high season) his judgment at this time might not be accurate . therefore he should not write any comments. It is more wise for him to wait before passing any info, that way he would not put any burden or responsibility of damaging the owners business on himself in front of God.

  61. Mat Aug 27, 2014 10:44 pm 61

    I believe Karl should write his experience with this place as a heads-up to the viewers not out of feeling of revenge.

  62. Maryam Aug 28, 2014 2:33 am 62

    I think it is quite all right to leave a negative review if the intentions are right.

    But in order for us to decide to do so or not we should look into ourselves. I think If karl in general is a person who can easily post negative reviews, may be to fight against his imperious self he should not write that review, and if he never likes to write any negative reviews and is always waiting for others to do so, then inorder to overcome that weak point may be he should write that review.

  63. pooyan Aug 28, 2014 7:35 am 63

    Its pretty awesome if he can write a fair unbiased review explaining his experience, however apparently he is too angry right now, then its just better to forget it and let it go. Lets say, six months down the road if one day he wakes up and feels that he doesn’t have any anger or feeling of revenge and he just wanna do it for the greater good of others then its the time to right a fair review by just explaining his experience, keeping in mind that if the massage was unpleasant or painful to him this could be the nature of the Hammam massage but not necessarily the shortcoming of the provider, therefore is very important the he can distinguish and differentiate these two entirely different problems. He is not supposed to compare traditional Hammam massage with Swedish massage. He should be able to compare apples-to-apples but not apples-to-orange, if he can do so and has no feeling of revenge, its nice to share his experience.

  64. Haleh Aug 28, 2014 10:05 am 64

    Quite agree with comment #28. I also think Karl is better to (not should) write about his experience once he has calmed down, just with the intention of helping others to have better travels (no revenge, no particular person in mind).

  65. B Aug 28, 2014 7:29 pm 65

    I am not sure about this: But I think maybe he should NOT leave a review, because it could hurt the business, and if he is not right or just or whatever in his review, he responsible for that. Generally I don’t think one should make reviews, especially bad ones. But I am not sure about my current opinion and I would like there to be a CORRECT answer for the above scenario.

  66. Lucky Aug 29, 2014 6:03 am 66

    I noticed the highest vote is so far for “As a rule of thumb, Karl should strive to do what is good for others”. I agree with the statement itself but in the context of this scenario it was too general and when I was first choosing a selection, I was a bit confused about which group of others is one to be concerned about – the business employees or the travelers ? It seems to me if you benefit one group you can hurt the other group. Can someone clarify please? maybe I am reading too much into that.

  67. Mm Aug 29, 2014 6:04 pm 67

    This was Karl’s first experience with a Hammam, this is not the same as a day spa, they are not that gentle. He could write a review saying it was his first time and it didn’t meet his expectations.

  68. Shabnam Aug 29, 2014 7:31 pm 68

    As far as I know and referring to my experiences negative comments usually affect the employees in a negative way and not the owner, and sometimes even result in jobs being lost. So in this case although it was the owner fault ,it will affect the employees.
    In addition Karl wanted revenge which is not good.I think he has no obligation to share the experience with others ,but many other people could have the same situation without knowing the reality.It is better not to leave a review.
    I personally do not know what the correct action is and would like to know what it is.

  69. B Aug 30, 2014 10:07 pm 69

    If I remember correctly, there is a Saying in Words of Truth vol. 2, about “writing review for a book” (an answer to a question I think). I don’t remember the Saying so well so I can’t say so much, and I have also tried to find it, but without luck. Can anyone find that Saying?

  70. H Aug 30, 2014 10:53 pm 70

    Reading the anecdote, rethinking about it and putting myself in Karl’s place following thoughts came to my mind:
    1. Our reason of being on earth is to get to know ourselves by freeing our thoughts from the grip
    of our instincts by acting according to divine ethical principles of the time through the daily
    scenarios the divine sets for us.
    2. The scenario of our friend firstly: shows the expectations and interpretations of a person’s
    emotions and instincts reacting to series of events such as a ‘commercial’ hammam, a ‘rushed’
    time, ‘crowded’ not a ‘private’ space and so on in a place; probably a holiday resort which
    developed into feelings of judgement, anger, punishment, retaliation and justifications.
    Then secondly the appearance of more balanced and sensitive thoughts such as, ‘Did I really
    need to leave a review anyway?’ depicts the struggle of intellect versus the domineering self
    through reasoning and reflection about weather it is a ‘duty’ an ‘altruistic’ or ‘Divine’ approved
    act to complain or is the objection justified at all as suddenly a more radical thought pops up
    as he says ‘I suddenly wasn’t so sure anymore’.
    3. This scenario indicates how the teachings of Ostad Elahi make us aware of two sides of our being,
    the terrestrial and spiritual parts and the fact that Karl gradually reviewed and questioned
    his ‘intentions and duties, about the events.

  71. JDN Aug 31, 2014 11:50 am 71

    I agree with most comments made thus far, particularly comments that suggest a ‘cooling down period’ before acting. It’s only natural to want to act out against those who have offended us in one way or another, so Karl is not unique in a scenario such as this. But the fact that Karl exercises restraint despite his chagrin, in my opinion, deserves acknowledgement and then respect. It’s only through self-control and careful thought about the consequences of our actions that will enable Karl to make the right decision: either to leave constructive feedback (pointing out the good, the bad and then suggestions for improvement) or damaging feedback (which, potentially, can hurt more people (e.g. staff) than the intended target (the employer) by the business folding).

  72. kbld Aug 31, 2014 2:23 pm 72

    Firstly, one has to understand well what kind of website this is. It is a website in which everybody tells their own personal experience, where a number of individual subjective opinions create information. If we don’t understand well that tool, we cannot answer properly to this clinical case study.

    Here, there are two questions: 1. Should Karl write his negative comment or not? and then 2. If yes, how should he do it?


    1. Actually, answer ‘4. Karl has no obligation to share his experience. He consulted these reviews free of charge, without committing to anything in return.’ is not contradictory to answers ‘3. Karl has an obligation to share his experience. He benefited from this system of mutual help and should, in turn, benefit that system.’ and ‘4. Karl should share his experience because it is his duty to use legal means at his disposal to defend himself against abuse.’ Indeed, the question is ‘on what grounds?’ Answer 4 focuses on legal obligation whereas the other two focus on moral obligation, and it is different. On legal grounds, of course there is no obligation, but it wasn’t the question here: something can be legal but immoral (on that subject, see Asar ol-Haqq vol. 1 (old edition), sayings 104 / 539 / 661 / 662 / 885, Asar ol-Haqq vol. 2, pages 325 / 428 / 435-6 / 439 and Borhân ol-Haqq, page 379).

    Personally, I clearly think he should publish it. Many arguments have been given in the comments, in French and in English. David gave a good summary of the positive effects, I agree with AnoNick when he writes that « Because this individual has repeatedly benefited from this system, they too should contribute to it in the ecological sense that one should draw benefit and also benefit others in return. ». The notice of Linda to the gratuity of the service is particularly useful: Karl benefited from others through that website but gave no benefit to them (the website in itself earns money through advertisement).

    Like leo, have you never wished you had been warned of a bad deal before doing it? It happens to me a lot so I understand the benefit that a serious negative review can create. We can see in Fariba’s and Maki’s comments that the more you experience this kind of websites, the more you understand their utility, for you and then for others. And if there are only positive comments, they have nearly no value.

    If it was a bad day, it is a day that should not have existed, and the proportion of positive and negative reviews will show the risk to come on a bad day (because the price doesn’t change during bad days).

    I would choose answer 3, because it’s a question of helping one’s neighbour. I don’t think he would be defending himself by posting that comment (perhaps his honour if the boss was outrageous, it would have been his only possible answer), he knows he won’t come back, it’s sufficient for him, but not for others.


    I noticed some interesting arguments for the other side.

    A lot of people pointed out the fact that negative comments can be materially harmful to the boss and his employees. Actually our whole life we cause nuisance to other people: if we have a job, one more person will be unemployed, if we use gas for travelling, we are harmful to the planet, etc. But we live anyway because society profits more than is harmed by us (at least, it’s the goal). Moreover, human beings are more important, so we use as necessary the planet to the benefit of the human soul. In addition, perhaps there is a priority to the existence of a ‘better’ on Earth, even if not everyone benefits from that, but I’m not sure at all (see the interesting and troubling thoughts of Kevin Fitzgerald in the video Advances in Neuroscience, especially from 24’20” / the whole video is great).
    It’s a question of choice and a question of balance. It’s wrong not to do something having only in focus the harm we might cause to someone, we have to see the whole picture, having in mind the number and the identity of the beings that are harmed and of those that take advantage, and the qualitative result of our action. Of course here some people might be harmed, but if the review is sincere and intelligent, it can have a global positive effect. Even if the hammam closes, there will be another one with a better service, or something else, which will have the same function as the hammam, if it’s something, needed. One baker shouldn’t prevent himself from making the best bread in the neighborhood; even if another other bakery closes, he can buy it, employ the employees if they are suited for this profession, teach them to do better bread, and sell good bread to the whole neighborhood.
    Nahjaf speaks about the idea of doing nothing if it’s a spiritual scenario in order to educate Karl. But everything is! There is a difference between interiorly not being revolted against our fate (which is good) and exteriorly being passive to what happens to us (which isn’t). If we live in society, it is to act within it.

    Nik sums up well all the arguments with which I disagree. I already explain why for most of the points. On point A-2, beyond the fact that with that reasoning we do nothing in life, I think that this is especially on small things that we can act and with the accumulation of those, make big things.

    I disagree with LA when he write that Karl should not have expectations. The question is ‘expectations toward who?’ It is toward the Divine that it has no real sense, but toward other people in commercial or professional relationships, it is totally normal. Otherwise, it would means that we accept to be swindled.

    I like Joubi’s comment. On point 2, he asks if it is a natural behaviour for Karl to write a negative review, or if he wants to do it only here (because he is angry then). Good question, but on another hand, there is always a first time, when you realize that things are so bad that you cannot not react.

    Many people write as if the altercation with the boss is something to put aside, but I disagree. Of course, the fact that the boss did not have a positive behaviour (if it is the reality) counts a lot. When we go somewhere and pay to relax, it is not to be shouted on. Yes, it means that you judge the attitude, but it is not a spiritual or moral judgment, only a commercial judgment. The sign is that it is not so important what the owner really think within, what counts is that his appearance make you feel comfortable. (Of course, this statement has to be nuanced too; I only speak about the commercial aspect).
    Here, the point is more that it seems that it is Karl who begun to speak harshly, not because of the attitude of the boss (in which case it could have been legitimate) but only because of the bad service.

    Thank you Sherry for your very interesting question: would his attitude have been the same with a close family member or friend? Would he have written this review? I often use this technique (sometimes I forget and I regret, it can be very useful). But here, I think it cannot work because if it had been a close family member or friend, Karl could have had a real effect on him, whereas not here. Moreover, he would not have been treated like that either: this is not a plausible situation. In addition, the priorities would change: if it had been Karl’s father, he would take priority over the Tripadvisor community. Yet, I wrote above that this question of priorities explains that Karl can materially harm some people to the benefit of society.


    Please not that all of that is if the general observation of very bad treatment is real. As such, I think that the comment of Homayoun is particularly true: the whole world does not have to conform to our standards, we have to be intelligent enough to understand other ways of thinking. And here, it is true that it seems that Karl hasn’t understood what a hammam is (it is not a spa). And, as Butterfly45 writes, it is strange that that much people liked it and that he experienced what he did (but it is only strange, people can be wrong, or not leave negative reviews because they think it is more ethical^^ – we see the result, or because they don’t dare to say it is bad if so many thought the opposite).

    Yet it is a website of /personal/ opinion and experiences, with explanations. Writing his experience can prevent those who have unreal expectations not to go there and will not prevent the other ones to go there, because they will see while reading that it is not a problem for them (sometimes I read comments and I say ‘oh, he complains about that, but it was obvious!’).
    Of course, Karl has to be a minimum innocent in his expectations; they must have been a minimum realistic and serious, otherwise it would be unfair to let a negative review. I mean that you cannot go to the hairdresser and complain because they don’t sell you bread: what were you doing there then! In that situation, it is totally your fault, and leaving a negative review would be completely unfair for the hairdresser.

    Finally, Kobayashi and madeleine speak well of the ‘rules of the game’, Ham that it is ‘normal’. Everyone accept these rules, even the professional who accepted to be on that website, we see all the advantages, so let’s just follow the rule.

    2. The core aspect is then how to write the review. A lot of things have already been said: I think here the problem is less to find how to act than to act according to what you found. I think Joubi sums up the best what has to be in the mind of the writer: a the intention: harm or benefit to other people? b try in the comment to be useful to other people and even to the boss if he wants to improve the service, be respectful and dignified. I agree with hp also. I would say that the comment has to be constructive, has to be oriented to the benefit of others.

    It is not necessary to avoid personal aspects (if it were possible), what counts is to try to show what is objective and what is personal, because personal feelings is a real and positive part of those website. For example, in a restaurant, objective: the cook seemed to have used good quality foods, but I did not like the taste. Both are important, even more the second part I think, but the best is to explain why, i.e. ‘it was too salty and I don’t like at all salty food’, then you will not prevent those who like salty food to go there.

    If he write a good and sincere review, even in the case that I discussed following the comment of Hamayoun (if Karl was very wrong in his expectations), people will see that it is ridiculous, especially after answer from the society, and perhaps it will even be removed by the website administrators.

    Let elapse some days can be a good tool to calm down but beware because like Ia says, it can be laziness and most of all, from my experience, you can just let it pass and in the end not do it because it happened too long ago! A good thing is that on Yelp, you can modify your review (if after a few days you see that you were too harsh), on TripAdvisor you can just delete it and write a new one, it is better than nothing.

    What MaryS wrote about writing it on a separate piece of paper first, think a little and then leave the review is very true. I think the same has to be done for almost everything we write on internet!

    I think that the main concerns of Karl should be here 1 did he act well toward the manager of the hammam? 2 is his point of view grounded or is he himself off the marks 3 write a constructive review.
    And we see well that, like cir wrote, this third point is the most difficult one. Like ametechnophile wrote, choosing not to write anything is not facing the issue. Like it or not, those websites are part of the modern world, and it will be the case more and more. Deciding not to use them because we fear to write something wrong is like staying out of the world like a hermit by fear of committing sins, you don’t progress because you don’t try.

    ‘ “All beings receive some benefit and must in turn provide some benefit.” This is ecology!’

    1. kbld Aug 25, 2015 1:23 pm 72.1

      In the end, I have decided to leave a positive comment at least each time I leave a negative one. I never leave an artificial positive one, but I think there is always something I would leave a positive comment here or there on the internet. But I think leaving a negative comment is the right thing to do.

  73. K Sep 01, 2014 5:29 am 73

    This is a great example of a dilemma showing how complex an everyday situation can be ethically. Karl’s reflection is actually quite remarkable, his conscience kicks in in time. I agree with all those who wrote that the decision whether to write a review or not is a question of intention, and should definitely not be based on feelings of revenge. I believe that this is is a case for seeing, saying and doing the good, and therefore it would be better not to write a negative review. As the last sentence mentions, if the hammam is really that bad, there would normally be enough other people leaving negative reviews.

  74. AT Sep 01, 2014 7:05 am 74

    How come Karl hasn’t said anything about the price of the deal? If I buy anything over internet I know that I’m sacrificing quality for lower cost. Therefore, if Karl believes with the exact same condition e.g. price, location and days of the week he could get a better deal somewhere else then he can write a letter to the owner and explain his experience with the spa and see what will be his reaction. It is not a matter of sincerity, duty, obligation, .. or revenge. If Karl has not received the services he has paid for he has to talk to owner and in most cases they offer free of charge accommodation to keep their customers happy.

  75. pzlz Sep 01, 2014 6:20 pm 75

    @B – Comment number 69. Very interesting! I found it in Asar ol-Haqq, vol. 2, saying 213. I believe the last sentence is the answer to Karl’s and some other’s dilemma!

  76. peach Sep 01, 2014 9:36 pm 76

    @pzlz and others who have access to this resource

    It would be great if you could share it with us or at least the context, method and analysis drawn from it. Many thanks.

  77. B Sep 02, 2014 4:22 pm 77

    @pzlz: Thanks a lot, exactly the Saying I meant. I knew it was in the first part of the book, but could not find it. We need a professional translation; I am not competent enough… But I think the context in the above scenario is a bit different than the question-answer from the saying, especially now that I reread it again. But there are also things in the saying that are perhaps completely and directly relevant. I am still confused.

    I don’t know, the last scenario was easier, since everyone almost agreed that “jack was a jerk”.

  78. SM Sep 03, 2014 12:47 am 78

    The hammam may have provided a good experience all other times and only on that day and at that particular time it may have had issues providing service to their customers.

    I think Karl should wait till he has completely calmed down and then leave an objective comment about his experience. He should qualify his comment with the statement that this was his experience on that day and that particular time of the day, and given the positive comments on the site, this may have been a fluke.

  79. Zane Sep 04, 2014 1:14 am 79

    If most reviews are positive, it’s possible that Karl had a bad day and had a negative perspective going into this experience.
    However, he can wait a bit to let his immediate emotions settle before submitting an analysis of his visit.
    It’s a good thought to give back to what you use though.

  80. Holly Sep 04, 2014 10:05 pm 80

    I think Karl should learn from this experience and do more personal research in the future .
    I also think that Karl should try and analyze the whole experience in more depth – are there any other lessons that he should be learning from this experience ? Was there absolutely no moment of fun and positive experience at all ?
    Could he not have made the experience more pleasant if was more chilled out !
    Anyhow , as understand it we should share positive experiences – and only speak of our negative experiences when directly asked or we know that it would directly effect someone.

  81. Ev Sep 04, 2014 11:44 pm 81

    If there is no anger and hatred in the heart of the reviewer, then I believe writing a sincere review is good even if it is filled with criticism, for a few reasons:
    The owner can read the review and perhaps fix the problem he was unaware of.

    Other customers can avoid issues.

    The system will benefit as long as intentions are good.

  82. Mahmoud Sep 05, 2014 6:29 pm 82

    Our experiences and emotions are dynamic and they depend solely on our education of thought. We see the world through our own filters and unless we strive to better educate our thoughts, our imperious self skillfully highjacks the rational brain every single time (i.e. the emotions that Karl is going through). Educating our thoughts through constant attention to God, seeking his help and satisfaction, fighting our imperious self and benefiting others enable us to progressively make better decisions.

    This anecdote has really engaged me to think about my responsibilities when writing a review and at the same time to pay closer attention to respecting the rights of others while doing so. Writing a review, as I understand it better now, is not a task to be taken lightly.

  83. M Sep 06, 2014 7:43 pm 83

    I would give myself a day before writing something because our minds function differently when we are angry and frustrated. Then I would think about my intentions, do I want to write something because I just want to give that business a piece of my mind or because I want to give the manager feedback to help improve his/her business? I am a manager at an institution and I would greatly appreciate to hear feedback from my customers to improve how I manage my team. Majority of us make decisions based on people’s feedbacks on yelp, trip advisor, and etc. I think it’s helpful to share our opinions and it’s up to the reader to figure out what to do with that information!

  84. Omidvar Sep 08, 2014 9:33 pm 84

    I agree with 21
    “I should wait a bit and let my anger or bliss wear off” and No revenge
    I cannot ruin people’s business

  85. leo Sep 08, 2014 10:21 pm 85

    This manager might perhaps prefer a private email.

    I sometimes act as if I were in others’ shoes. I mean me personally and what I’ve realized is that the difficult aspect is actually to take into consideration the other person’s sensibility.

    In fact if I really and sincerely put myself in the other person’s shoes, I wouldn’t like it either (for example with comments or reviews).

  86. Sam Sep 09, 2014 9:52 am 86

    I believe that receiving the benefit of reading reviews from others in a way obliges us to also do our part and place reviews in return. However, we have to use our utmost sincerity to the best of our ability so that we provide as objective of review as possible. In a state of fury it would be difficult to leave such review. I would hope that I would be able to wait several days or maybe even weeks to reassess my experience as objectively as possible and list the pros and cons of my experience and let the readers decide which of my cons is truly a con for them. For example I often read reviews for a product where the user placed a bad review due to the color of the item. That may not be a con for me so I know to disregard that review, or vice versa. However, this level of objectivity is easier said than done and I’m sure I would fail in my attempt, but hope that with practice God gives me the ability to increase that objectivity/sincerity.

  87. leo Sep 09, 2014 10:30 pm 87

    In short, what I find difficult is to actually think as the other person and not as if it were “me” in this person’s shoes.

    What I would consider constructive criticism might not be taken as such by the other person.

  88. David Sep 10, 2014 1:30 am 88

    Hi again,
    What a great opportunity this became for us to share our thoughts with each other – as always, thanks e-ostadelahi!

    @ Kbld I particularly enjoyed reading your in-depth study and research on the subject, and think you made an excellent job of synthesizing all sides of the topic including of the valuable reflections made here. Thank you for taking your time and effort of providing such high quality value to the forum. I hope I some day too can put in more effort when contributing to the discussion.

    Wishing all of us success in using these ethical dilemmas as the necessary and preparatory In Vitro practice (attention, digestion, absorption), so that we are prepared to act on it when the One provides us with an In Vivo (assimilation) scenario. To highlight the nurturing value of these ethical dilemmas, I found it useful to re-read pages 53-55 of Medicine of the Soul, English version.

    Good luck!

  89. julie Sep 10, 2014 4:02 am 89

    Maybe the people who have shared their positive thoughts about the place, had not been there during the high season. Maybe the staff for the high season is different than the staff for the low season and maybe it’s not that crowded during the low season. And maybe that is the reason he felt it was unpleasant. So, maybe we should be more accurate in writing reviews about places. We should mention when we were there.
    Also as someone else mentioned, Karl should be careful with his intention. If his intention is to help others, then he should write the truth but if his intention is revenge, then he should stop himself.

  90. Neda1 Sep 10, 2014 9:12 pm 90

    First he should wait until he has calmed down and there is no sense of anger or revenge that is leading him to write his review. I think it is all about his intention. If his intention is seeking personal revenge, then he should refrain from writing a review. If his intention is helping others so they do not make the same mistake, then he can share his experience, while considering his writing does not cause someone to lose their job.

  91. fereshteh assemi Sep 23, 2014 9:15 pm 91

    Maybe Karl can wait a few hours to calm down so he can analyze the situation more objectively. On the other hand, I don’t think any review is necessary because he has no obligation nor duty. Also, perhaps many others loved the way the resort was run. if you don’t like the place, is not to return. Equally, it is folly to assume that you’re going to like something or some place just because a large majority is positive about it. We should ask ourselves this simple question that because a lot of people think this way about something we must all be of the same opinion? Very often this following-the-majority policy can lead us down paths that are time-wasting, negative and/or confusing.

  92. kbld Oct 08, 2014 4:27 pm 92

    Thank you very much for your message, it is very nice of you!
    Now, please do not think the length give the value to a comment. Your comment for example was short and precise, then very useful! Thank you to you.
    When I re-read your comment, I see in point 4 (about free treatment in exchange for the deletion of the comment) an argument in order to say that it is also defending his ‘right’, a right to have the service for the money spent. But I wonder: would it be ethical to delete a useful comment for a personal benefit? I think it would be ethical to delete it because it would show that the owner really cares, he would have gotten a second chance. But then, the intention would still be others rather than personal benefit. Anyway, I think that kind of proposition never happens.


    One point I did not mention in the English version of my comment (and that is not clear in the French version) is the following. I think that the first of the two questions is to be answered with a reasoning based mainly on materiality: it is mainly (not only) a question of understanding our milieu, the modern world and the effects of that from a social point of view. There, the ethics is more (not uniquely) in the fact of wondering about all those things in itself. It is the second aspect that is directly and mainly spiritual, in the in vitro part as in the in vivo part.

  93. MZA Oct 09, 2014 6:23 am 93

    I would like to make two comments in this regard:

    1- It Doesn’t matter how horrendous some places might be, but you can always come back with few good memories from there. I remember many years ago I used to go to hammam -although the atmosphere was somewhat as dire as was mentioned by Karl – but still I came back with some good memories. One was their very friendly Dallak (bath attendants), and the other one was the very tall ice glass of water, which tasted great after all that rubbing and massaging.
    2- Karl’s best chance was to discuss this matter in a very business like manner with the manager of the establishment right there, rather than waiting all that time and contemplating about sending an email in the future.

  94. AliG Oct 09, 2014 1:27 pm 94

    I believe he needs to calm down first and write a True comment as it can benefit not only the other tourists, but also, it can benefit the owner to improve the situation. Many times we are blind to our actions and a true and constructive criticism can help us wake up and better ourselves. No one knows all the answers and we constantly rely on others to point out our short comings as well as our good deeds. Karl tried to give the owner a hint but due to his frustration, he could not relay the message positively. A calm assessment shared on Trip Advisor may help the owner see what really is happening in his business. Whether the owner corrects it or not shouldn’t be anyone’s concern; rather, Karl’s act could be looked at as a positive step by him to help two groups of people: tourists and the owner.

  95. B Oct 13, 2014 12:53 pm 95

    My analysis of choice 3 in contrast to kbld:
    Regarding choice 3 “Karl has an obligation to share his experience. He benefited from this system of mutual help and should, in turn, do something that will benefit that system.”

    Comment 72, kbld, which thinks choice 3 is the best choice, ends his comment on quoting Dr. Bahram Elahi from the video “A view on ethics” (http://www.e-ostadelahi.com/eoe-en/bahram-elahi-on-ethics/) at 3:55 in the video.

    The sentence, or we might even say the principle, is the following: “All beings receive some benefit and must in turn provide some benefit.”

    If we pay close attention there are some differences in the quote and the way choice 3 is presented. Choice 3, I think, mistakenly uses this principle and although they sound similar they are very different. Choice 3 looks at *a closed system*, whereas the principle, to my understanding, is about the “macroenvironment”, or the big picture.

    I now write the subtitle from the above mentioned video right after the principle is mentioned: “And human beings should seek to benefit others with the best of what they have.”(Ibid.)

    Now even if we assume the the principle is valid for “a closed system” (which I think is a very technical discussion), is writing something bad about someone publicly the BEST thing we have in order to benefit others ?

    1. kbld Aug 25, 2015 1:25 pm 95.1

      To me, it is not a matter of “writing something bad about someone” but of explaining to others what the real quality of a service is.

  96. Mohammad Oct 20, 2014 11:56 pm 96

    Without any exaggeration, Karl should describe the true situation and write his comment.

  97. hamdam Dec 26, 2014 10:38 am 97

    He does not need to write any review. He has a choice not to go next time. It was just for fun, not a necessity.

  98. RL Sep 14, 2015 1:42 pm 98

    ” (I still wonder why I agreed to lie down!)”
    Karl foresaw what would be a problem for him in this service. Following his instincts could have avoided this situation.

    Though not an obligation, it would be a courtesy to post his experience on TripAdvisor as he has benefitted from them, but best if done after cooling down. He may recognize at that point that he may have misunderstood what this service is about resulting in a false expectation. Conveying that point in his posting could render his judgment more fairly.

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