Sunday, January 23, 2022

Should I negatively review a typically reliable service company?

Should you post a negative rating for a service company you’ve received great work from for years?

That’s the question a reader we’re calling Amanda asked after her recent experience with a kitchen appliance repair service whose work has saved several of the aging appliances in her second-floor condo over the past several years. After an oven range began to act up about five years ago, Amanda began pricing what it would cost to replace the 20-something-year-old range with a newer model. After the sticker shock set in, she went onto Google and read the reviews of several local appliance repair companies before she settled on one whose reviews were numerous, stellar, and often from people living in her area.

“They came out, diagnosed the problem, and told me it would cost about $900 less for the parts and labor than it would have cost for a new range and any delivery charge,” wrote Amanda. The fix was made, the oven worked, and Amanda left a positive review on Google.

Whenever a friend was in need of a repair person, Amanda recommended the repair company. Her friends were equally pleased with the service and results.

Things changed right before Christmas after Amanda’s dishwasher began to leak and she had the repair service out to diagnose the issue.

“They found a piece had been corroded on the back of the dishwasher that needed to be replaced,” she wrote. The part was ordered and Amanda washed dishes in the sink for the couple of weeks it took for the part to come in and repair person to return to install it.

What Amanda didn’t know and only found out later was that the repair person who diagnosed the cause of the leak had disconnected the copper water line to the dishwasher when he moved the dishwasher out from under the counter so he could take a look. But rather than reconnect the water line, the repair person left it unconnected and small amounts of water left in the copper pipe slowly leaked into the back of her cabinets and began to drip through the corner of the ceiling right below her kitchen into the condo below her.

“At first we didn’t know what was causing the drip, but the guy who came to put the new part in figured it out,” wrote Amanda. There was no real damage to the condo below because the issue was caught in time. Amanda’s dishwasher works great now and she is relieved she didn’t have to spend the money on a new one, but she wonders whether she should post what happened in her review of the service.

No one is ever obligated to leave a review online for anything, so Amanda can rest easy not doing so. If she does post a review and she wants to be honest about the experience, the right thing is to include that detail about the drip.

But a better option might be to call the service repair company to tell the owner what happened. That might help ensure that the same mistake isn’t repeated by diagnosticians on future visits.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of, a blog focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need to have answered? Send them to

Follow him on Twitter @jseglin.


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