Snoqualmie Valley Controversy: Should you rant publicly about services at local businesses?

Our article about ‘Poopgate’ was so popular that we decided to make Snoqualmie Valley Controversy a regular feature. This series will examine arguments that come up over and over on local social media pages and see where our readers land on the topic.

Many communities have Facebook groups with names such as Rants & Raves or Say Anything designed specifically for complaining (and yes, some raving). The posts on these groups range from grumbling about big chain stores to criticizing our local mom-and-pop establishments.  

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Since Small Business Saturday[1] is tomorrow, November 26, this week’s topic is: “If you have a problem with a local business, is it ok to complain on local social media pages? Have you done it? What were the circumstances?”

My opinion on the matter is it depends. I, like everyone else, have had good and bad experiences with Valley businesses. After addressing it privately with the companies, I would (and have) complained publicly in two instances.

The first is if someone’s life or their pet’s life will be impacted or put in danger by the business.

For example, I recently had my mother in an assisted living facility (NOT in the valley) that over-promised what services they could provide. The result of that broken promise was a ton more work for my sister & me and, ultimately, a decline in my mother’s health.

We tried several times to resolve the issue with the business and saw no change in care. Now I plan on finding every website I can that review such facilities and tell our story so other children of elderly folks don’t see themselves where we were earlier this year. I would feel guilty if I didn’t.

My second reason for complaining online would be if something happened that had a significant economic impact on me.

Fortunately, this has not happened to me personally, but I know several people who have lost a lot of money by doing business with folks who were not so ethical in their business practices. Recently, many people have told stories of putting deposits down with a local company for work that was never done or done poorly.

In this instance, if attempts to resolve the issue privately fail, I may warn people publicly to save their wallets from the same fate.

So, when wouldn’t I complain?

Honestly, at this point, aside from my two examples, probably never. The last two years have been TOUGH for local small businesses. Shipping, supply and worker issues continue to make things complicated and prices high. The pandemic closed nearly everyone for a short time and some places for a LONG time.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

If my coffee order is wrong or my takeout perhaps more expensive than last year, is it worth it to complain and potentially harm someone’s cash flow? I say no. It could be a bad day for someone, or maybe I was overly sensitive that day. I’d likely give the business a second chance or go somewhere else.

However, my opinion isn’t the only one that matters. So, I asked my merry band of Facebook friends to answer the complain or not complain question. The participation in my informal poll was a bit low because of the holiday week (let me know in the comments if you’d like to be included in future polls), but about 15 people chimed in on this one.

Those polled pretty much mirrored my opinion, with Amy saying, “Nope, I’d address it directly to the business. Something would have to be horrific for me to post about a local, small business. If it’s a large chain, I might if I get no resolution privately. Most likely, I would stop spending money there. Although, if I thought others might be impacted by the issue (being ripped off), I’d post.”

Jeanne agreed to say, “I’d go directly to the business on social media….either message them or post a ‘hey what can you do about this?’ especially larger companies. For a small business, I’d contact them directly. Unless a very grievous problem remained unaddressed, I would not diss them online.”

Everyone was firm that the business should be contacted directly first, but if it’s a continued thing, none are afraid to share what they think. Says Susan, after having a horrible experience locally that was never resolved, “Now it’s war. I’ve reviewed them everywhere. Yelp, Trust Pilot, the BBB, and Facebook. I filed a complaint with the BBB and requested that the charges be reversed on my credit card.”

Don’t mess with Susan….

Becky agreed with me about wanting to warn people of places that might cost them a great deal of money, saying, “I’m sick of businesses being protected from poor service just because they’re local/small and people not wanting to say anything negative. I hate to review negatively because people are jerks and come down on you (especially if it’s a small/local place), but I’m so sick of hiring people who do crap work at top dollar, and I always check reviews, so I know people are the same as I am about it – don’t want the wrath of the small business defenders to rain down upon you, so you just keep quiet while the small business keeps doing crappy work. I’ve come to believe that people recommend people here based on personality and not on the quality of the work they do.”

I agree with that too. Recommendations should come from experience, not from social media talk. If you haven’t used a service personally, don’t recommend it because you heard Mike down the street had an excellent encounter.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In the end, we need these businesses to keep our valley economically healthy, and we don’t want to risk losing any more businesses to this stretch of bad luck we seem to be having. Shopping locally this holiday season is one way to help do that.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section. Happy Holidays!

[1] First observed in the United States on November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. By contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and localSmall Business Saturday is a registered trademark of American Express

Comments are closed.


  • For me personally I wouldn’t rant publically about any business or my experience with their service. The reason being is because I’m not that kind of person to speak up and say anything privately or publicly. I just let it go. I might not go back for a while though.

  • As a (former) manager of a major business in the valley I can tell you that I was always taught that feedback, good, bad or otherwise, was a gift. I always welcomed and openly encouraged the community to come to me personally to discuss any issues openly and honestly. If it was a touchy subject, very few people would take the time to speak to me personally. Many more are inclined to do their ranting online while compliments were much more frequently given in person. My community interactions may have been a little different as I did go into a number of local forums and engage people rather than waiting for them to come too me.

  • Yes, allow free speech. With enough traffic there will be enough positives to cancel out the false negatives when appropriate.

    1. Well, it is allowed. That’s not the question, the question is would you do it or not? I would never say it isn’t allowed

  • While owning a business in the valley (Cascade Home Services) my goal was customer loyalty, not just customer satisfaction. If a customer assigned us a task and was not satisfied I wanted to know. It was an opportunity to better understand their expectations and try to not only meet those expectations, but see if there were ways to exceed them. Often a phone call to the customer, a day or two after the completion of a job, asking if there was anything further that needed to be done for them to be completely happy with our work caused two reactions. First, it was a shock to them to have us check back and, when they recovered, they often became my best salespeople. I never paid for advertising.

  • Living Snoqualmie