Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dodge City Dispute: do I need a silver bullet or a wooden stake??

If the latest installment of the apparently immortal Dodge City dispute doesn’t interest you, click this link for something you might like instead: . For those of you who want to know what is the latest numbskull trick Mr. Dodge City has pulled, read on.

It is no secret I have a low traffic blog. It’s been that way since its inception more than four years ago and I’ve done very little to change that. Just last week I learned about blog page rankings but I have no idea how to find out what mine is…and I don’t care enough to spend the time finding out what it is, why it is supposed to matter, or how to find out what mine is. The importance of this disclaimer will become apparent in due course.

Anyway, this past week I noticed a jump in my stats (I have one of those little counter thingies you can get free on the web). Today, I had a further jump, all without any appreciable reason. Surely my recent blogs about the burst hot water heater haven’t rung a lot of empathetic bells? I checked the site that gathers the stats…most of which is Greek to me…and saw that the blog had an unusual number of Google hits. When check for the Google search words, I suddenly realized that people were picking up words from Mr. DC’s blog, plugging them into Google, and ending up at my blog. Bizarre, eh?

So, I checked his blog to see what was going on and imagine my shock to see the name of my blog emblazoned in bright letters at the top of his posts!! No kidding! “A View From The Other Side” was part of the actual title of two of his three posts!

Now, I’ve been blogging for more than four years, but I don’t know much about the technical aspects of it…and I don’t care to know…but this guy is even more ignorant than I am about how blogging works. He is driving traffic to my blog with his obsession…people who come to his blog to find out about his restaurant (one of the diners is located in one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town) are, instead, finding out that he has an obsession about a customer who complained about the service…and the curious ones are finding me through Google. He may have figured out how to put up a WordPress blog, but he has no idea how he is hurting himself and helping me by informing every person who finds his blog that if customers complain about the service, they could end up being the target of some obsessive cyber-stalking and character assassination! And, he hasn’t figured that driving traffic to my blog makes it more popular when people do searches for me or for topics I have written about in my very eclectic blog.

So, today he posted a rather long rant in response to a short comment from someone I used to occasionally spar with on the web. Interestingly, he didn’t post my comment to the very same blog entry, so it is now official that he is refusing to allow me to have the same say on his blog that he had on mine. Heaven forefend there should be any information published on his blog that does not exactly conform to what he wants people to believe! Anyway, Jim (my erstwhile sparring partner) posted this comment:

Well this has been interesting, for me SV was OK we never saw eye to eye on just about anything, but I still liked her. And if you’ve managed to get her to change her blog well your a better man then me Gunga Din….But I don’t eat urgers [sic], or stuff like it…and carry on blogging can be ineresting [sic], funny or down right frustrating, but you gotta stop plugging the place…Cheers [Jim has a decidedly conservative bent while I am known to be a wild-eyed liberal--of course we didn’t agree on anything!]

Here is Mr. DC’s response to Jim's comment (in red) and my remarks on that response (in green):

re: re: Dodge City Diner - Customer Service Response

Thanks for your comment. Has been an interesting experience for me as well. Have been in restuarant [sic] game for more than 20 years and never come across anything like it.

A restuarant [sic] Complainant’s motive typically lies in either wanting a refund and/or just drawing the problem to the attention of management for rectification in good faith.
Well, there are other reasons…like, I like the food but your crappy service is driving me away. Like, this is my third visit to this venue and the service has been bad every time (see my original mail/blog post), but this time it was just bad beyond belief. Like, maybe I was wanting to get the service fixed so I wouldn’t have to stop coming into the restaurant because the service was so dismal?

SV’s complaint appeared to be backed by an additional motive - events suggest getting exposure for herself - maybe as a writer or whatever. How so? Notice there is no quote or direct reference to anything that would support this allegation. And the evidence suggests otherwise: four+ years of happily blogging along as a low traffic site with no evidence to suggest an attempt to increase it. Logic, also, is on my side…if I wanted to make a name for myself as a writer, why would I pick on an unknown diner at the bottom of the world? Wouldn’t I try to piggyback my efforts on something a bit more visible than a diner that has no website, no reputation outside this one city, not even a blog? The whole allegation doesn’t make an iota of sense. SV’s blog content suggests vindictiveness as a possible motive as well. Again…in what way? Where is a quote or some logical explanation for this allegation? He can’t do it because there isn’t anything. SV’s 2 odd page complaint was outside the norm in almost every sense. Well, “2 odd page” is usually interpreted as meaning “more than two pages.” If you say you have "twenty odd cents," don't you mean twenty cents plus a few? Using 10 pt Arial, it comes to barely 1.25 pages: here is just one of many, many examples of the distortions of truth that permeate his blog entries and emails to me. As far as my complaint being “outside the norm,” what kind of indictment is that? Only people who write complaints inside “the norm,” whatever that might be, are entitled to being taken seriously and treated with respect?

Problem is that while SV secures her desired exposure, [at best this is speculation; at worst, libel] an inaccurate account of events can do serious and unreasonable damage to the business concerned [true…but my account is not inaccurate and, if I am wrong and it is inaccurate he has intractably refused to tell me what is inaccurate about it so I can make corrections] - threatening the livelihoods of all deriving an income from the business. In DCD’s case we have 4 outlets emplying [sic] about 300 staff. It became necessary that I warn her of my right to recover damages in due course if necessary. Why, then, has he refused to tell me what is inaccurate? I have never refused to change an inaccuracy, but if he won’t tell me what they are, isn’t he the reason any inaccuracies that might exist haven’t been corrected?

During the dispute with SV, a very brief very miserable complaint was logged on Food24 against another DCD outlet. The Complainant suggested that Food24 readers do a google search - where they would coincidentally find SV’s blog. Hence my concern that exposure for her blog was a likely motive behing logging the complaint. Oh, what a crock! My mention of Food24 was days before someone posted that review. Any person anywhere in the world who had web access could have posted it. Not only did I not post it, nobody who has ever read my blog would mistake that review for my style of writing. He claims (below) that he has contacted Food24 to learn who posted the review but the fact that he doesn't know sure hasn’t stopped him from blaming me, has it?

I have asked for further details from the food24 complainant. No response as yet and events suggest that the complaint was fabricated and simply intended to unreasonably harm DCD’s reputation. That is entirely possible…but there’s no reason to think it was me. I was doing just fine exchanging emails with him and had no reason to go elsewhere, particularly since I was asking, in almost every email, for him to tell me what he thought was inaccurate so that I could consider an amendment. Maybe he’s the kind of person who tries to resolve a dispute on one hand while undermining those efforts on the other, but I’m not. Besides, I was winning that email war...what possible reason would I have to move to a new venue (like he did with his new blog)? SV swears that she has no knowledge of who may have logged the complaint! But on the balance of probability? How about some evidence instead of speculation? How about refraining from blaming someone until there is even a tiny smidgen of proof? Probability? If you are talking probabilities, what is most probable is that someone else read the early entry mentioning Food24 and made the review, given that hundreds of millions of people had that opportunity. Do I strike anybody reading this as being stupid enough to foreshadow something like that myself? Believe me, if I was going to put up a rude review, I wouldn’t advertise it ahead of time…and it would have been written with a great deal more panache.

Actual details of SV’s service experience in our store as per vidoe [sic] coverage was as follows: 9.44 enter store, greeted by manager, 9.46 waiter takes order for coke/cappucino, drinks at table 9.52, canderel at table 9.54. SV out of store by 9.59. This if the very first time I have seen most of this information! And how interesting that he limits his review of the video to time. In his apology email he refers to this video and states that the drinks took longer than the corporate standard and that there was no excuse for the staff being unable to find the Canderel. He even admits that a staff member left the restaurant to get Canderel from an outside source. Interestingly, this review also fails to mention my getting up from the table and going to the register to inquire what was taking so long to get the Canderel…and the fumble at the register, where it took three members of staff to process a cash transaction is omitted as well. Staff recall an altication [sic} of sorts between SV and hubby before they walked into the store - so emotions were high at the outset it seems! This is an out-and-out lie. Not only were we not engaged in an altercation, we were actually discussing various venues for Sunday morning breakfast and, upon seeing the Dodge City (we were en route to Spur), we decided to try them. We’ve had burgers there (and they are excellent) and the service wasn’t that good, but since only one other table was occupied when we entered, we actually expected to get better service than we had had in the past! Aside from the fact that Hubby and I seldom argue, when we do argue, we definitely don’t do it in public! If there were any high emotions as we entered, they were positive anticipation…they make magic with hamburgers, why not with breakfast, too? I find it very interesting that Mr. DC has failed to mention (or, to date, even acknowledge) my husband’s email to him clearly repudiating the charge that we were not having an altercation nor did I “unreasonably abuse” him as Mr. DC’s staff alleges. SV first blog claimed experience took 30 minutes - but has subsequently backed down on this and other aspects of claim. Another distortion of the truth. My first blog entry on the subject was a verbatim copy of my email to Dodge City. The second entry was posted immediately after I received his apology email which included a mention that his video footage showed we were there 15 minutes rather than the 30 I had estimated. Without so much as a suggestion from him, I made a new entry into the blog in which I accepted his service time and corrected the time to 15 minutes. I could not amend the first entry because it was a verbatim copy of the letter I sent…a copy is a copy, errors and all. This is considerably different from me “backing down,” especially when you consider that he did not sent the first attacking email to me until at least two days after I had made the correction!

I responded to the complaint with an apology and R50 voucher as a token of appreciation for bringing matter to my attention. This is true. He also mentioned the video footage and that his footage showed us we were in the store 15 minutes, not the 30 I estimated. At this point I had no reason to doubt the existence of the video nor his claim of 15 minutes. I immediately posted a correction…without requiring any proof from him, just taking his word for it. Cost of food order was approx R15. Um…I’m not entirely sure about this…I paid for this with an R50 note and I seem to recall getting about R25 back…but I could be wrong. I was so irritated by the time the three staff members finally figured out how to make the till accept a cash payment, I did not carefully count my change. But I do recall an R20 note and one R5 coin… SV rejected voucher –not true…my husband refused the voucher…so he did get the email and was just too rude to respond or even acknowledge receipt (of course he wouldn’t…it didn’t support his twisted version of the truth or his staff’s specious “observations”!) What he could not know is that, prior to his attack on me (after the two day silence), Hubby and I were planning to use the voucher, but at the Waterfront store where our service experiences have been better...not as good as they should be, but better- so refund not the motive. Well how amazing…a correct logical deduction! At last! So what was the motive DCD asks? DCD did not ask anything…DCD merely created a massive straw man and is now happily flailing away at it. No apparent good faith anywhere in logging the complaint. Since when does making a complaint require “good faith”? And it’s an awfully narrow view of the world to assume that there are only two possible reasons for complaint: gain or vengeance. How about something completely outside that restrictive little box: enlightened self-interest? I like the food but the crappy service was driving me away…why hasn’t it occurred to this person that my motive was to get him to improve the service so I would be able to continue patronizing his business? And what about ranting? Has he never heard of a rant?? If we removed every blog from the internet that contains a rant, would there be any left?

Re your concern re my trying to get exposure -Jim expressed a concern about Mr. DCD wanting to get exposure? Where? not to worry, that is not my intention. his statement that exposure is not his intention is supposed to be sufficient to prove his intent, but that doesn't work for me? What is his intent, then? To libel a complaining customer? He has three entries on this blog and that's all he talks about! New at the blogging game. Recent entry was an effort to change the blog title to something other than DCD & see if it worked. Yah, right…and he changed the title of two of his blog entries to include my blog name…I’m wondering what WordPress would think of that since clicking my blog name on some Google results directs to his blog instead of mine…doesn’t that violate TOS? Try clicking on the link below and see for yourself.

This entry was posted on September 23, 2008 at 1:13 pm and is filed under A View from the other Side, dodge-city-diner with tags A View from the other Side, dodge-city-diner, dodge-city-diner-cape-town, dodge-city-diner-waterfront.

So, even though I know he’s not going to publish my comment…at least he hasn’t published mine in the past, so I have no reason to expect he’ll publish this one…I gave it my best shot:

Thought you might like to know that people are taking key phrases from your blog, putting them in Google and ending up at mine where they can read the whole story...your emails as well as my repeated requests that you tell me what you think needed changing and your refusals to tell. I know you won't publish this comment...I mean, why let me have my say the way I let you have yours by publishing your side of the story word-for-word?...but that's OK because I'll publish it myself.

But you might want to rethink this are actually sending people to my blog who otherwise would never have heard of this, so you are telling everybody what bad service you have and how rudely you respond to someone who calls it to your attention. And, because they can take just about any phrase out of your blog, plug it into Google, you are actually sending people to read my side of the story! I doubt this is what you intended, but that's what you are doing (I checked my stat counter this morning and found multiple hits from Google, the key words lifted wholesale from your entries.)

I've always had a low-traffic blog (for four years), never wanted more than that because I blog primarily for myself and a few regular readers (most of whom are foreigners, BTW) but your blog has increased my hits by making people curious, so I'm gaining a bit of new readership thanks to you.

Oh, and does it seem appropriate to you that what purports to be a corporate website is publishing what amounts to character assassination...and not even having the common decency to allow the target a rebuttal? Not a very good business move...more like a spiteful kid indulging in some name-calling than an exercise in good corporate relations. But why should I care? If you want a highly unprofessional web image that holds you...and by extension, your company...up in a bad light, I guess it's no skin off my nose.

Thanks for all the referral readers though. Appreciate the mention and you creating all the buzz.

Believe it or not, there’s more! His second blog entry (19 Sept) was a verbatim copy of his first (16 Sept) entry with one notable exception: he changed the title of the piece to the name of my blog. Maybe that is how Jim (see intro to this entry) found him. I left a reply, since my previous reply to this entry had not been published.

Yup, you know this isn't true and sending people to my blog will prove it because your emails---proving it wasn't true---are published there.

Thanks for the referrals, though. You've made people curious (about something they would never even have known about it you'd been quiet and let it drop) and now they are coming to my blog to get the rest of the story. I wondered where all the extra traffic was coming from, since I usually have a quiet, low traffic blog and there's been a flurry of unexpected activity over the last few days. Now I know why.

In case you are wondering why I keep making entries about this…why I don’t take the high road and just ignore him…it is because of the doctrine of “tacit agreement” which, if my research is correct, is still in viable in South African law. A magistrate may impute tacit agreement to a litigant based on their conduct…or lack thereof…so if I err, it must be on the side of caution.

You see, if he publishes untrue statements about me and I do not refute them, a magistrate may impute my agreement to those statements because I did not refute them. Kind of a “well, if it wasn’t true, why didn’t you say so?” sort of thing. Tacit consent and tacit agreement are situations in which taking the high road could actually work against you. And, since this guy continues to bring up legal action, it’s not prudent of me to ignore his libels in the interest of taking the high road. It is more prudent of me to refute.

And that’s what this entry is all about.


  1. Honey, I think the diner guy is getting to you. You're starting to sound like a customer from hell. Maybe take a holiday!

  2. I went to his blog and left this:
    I don't think you get it. By starting a blog and posting about your customer's complaint you are proving that this has become a personal attack against a customer you have taken a disliking to. By placing the name of her blog here you referred traffic to her site where all of the encounters are documented even with your emails. You are not coming out looking good in this. She isn't costing you customers, YOU are by your vendetta attitude.

    I wouldn't want to dine somewhere that if I didn't like something about it, I would be, what amounts to, being cyber-stalked by by a bulling manager/owner of a franchise. You are giving the whole Dodge City franchise a bad name.

    I don't even live in your country but just from your harassment of one customer that gave you a bad reference, if I did visit, I would not come to your establishment. You wouldn't be worth the risk.

    I am not a friend of SV nor have I ever met her, my opinion is based solely on what has been written and that is from both blogs.

    I'll have to see if he goes ahead and posts my comment or not. He just can't seem to get it and drop it, can he? He is his own worst enemy.


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