On Social Media & Free Speech

I am a little flustered right now. My head is flowing with many thoughts, but I must start at the start.

A month and a half ago (mid Sept), I had an unfortunate lunch-time experience at a restaurant I frequented. In a nutshell, a server spilled all kinds of food all over me and my clothes while I was eating, seated along the corridor, and the “service recovery” after that was excruciatingly bad; all in the middle of a work day! Expectedly, I was appalled by the experience, and also exhausted by the conversation I had with the restaurant manager. I resorted to HungryGoWhere, a popular Singapore-based site where I often review food joints. Here is my entire review on Zaffran, the restaurant in question.

With little else to pacify myself, I moved on and went about my life as usual. Until a few days back, when HungryGoWhere’s moderator wrote to me the following message:

To this, I immediately replied with my contact details, standing by the integrity of my review. Following 4 days of silence, I received an email from Zaffran this afternoon, and you have to see it to believe it:

I guess you’ll understand now why I’m flustered. (And a little angry and a little amused)

Rule #1 of Social Media – I’m an online citizen and I have the right to share my experiences with my fellow citizens.

Over to you – Any thoughts, insights, suggestions, comments? Any lawyers?!

UPDATE: Calvin Timo, a Twitter friend, wrote a post about the incident on his blog and received an email from Zaffran claiming that they are “friendly and reasonable” people. Well, actions speak louder than words.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and all thoughts expressed here are my own, not intended to harm anyone. Via this post, I only seek support from the online community and share my experience of the situation I’ve found myself in.

The Shooting Star Academy

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  1. do you still have the numbers and names that they used to call you when they “apologised”? that would be a good verification I would think.

  2. Wow I’m seriously appalled at this. It’s as if they don’t go by the “customer is right” rule. How can they think you’re defaming them??

    BTW you have 1 witness which is a friend. Your colleagues probably can vouch for you turning up in clean clothes in the morning, then afterwards probably someone has seen you in those dirty clothes.

    Well, good luck in getting the case thrown out.

    1. Yeah, that makes a few witnesses. Thanks for the luck, hopefully I won’t need much 🙂

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  4. The restaurant’s reaction is appalling! If there’s a lawsuit, I hope you win it and the restaurant goes down! (angry)

  5. Ye Olde Law Ofiz says:

    T’was a moron who wrote back to you using the Sullivan name.

    “Alleged claims” – either claims were made, or they were not made. You do not send an email to Legal asking them to look into alleged claims. They only act on actual claims.

    Hahaha, what a joke. He must have just come out of the kitchen.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Any photos taken from your/others’ mobile phones?

  6. Anonymous says:

    1. They did not speak to you at all after getting hold of you email, that means they have no intention to amicable resolution. They would have to explain why they refuse not to settle out of court and choose to waste the judge’s time.
    2. Demanding more information from you through email and stamping unreasonable response time. They must prove that this is an absolute necessity in court.
    3. At most, they can call your review in HGW defamatory, but they would have to prove that what you said is false. If you have all your witnesses, I doubt they would dare to prove you wrong.

    This looks more like scare tactics than anything.

  7. maskedmagician says:

    Ridiculous! You should sue them for negligence!

  8. I agree with what some of the comments have stated above.

    They have absolutely no grounds at all with this case, and this is obviously just a scare tactic to bully you into apologizing. They are banking on the fact that you will be scared when you receive a writ of summons and apologize instead of defending yourself. Please do not give in to this bully because there is absolutely no substance behind this case, and it will be thrown out of court and back in their faces.

    That is IF there is even a lawyer. I could create a fake account and CC-ed the email to myself just to scare you into taking down your review.

  9. zhang3feng says:

    bunch of losers trying to bully their customer… pathetic act.

  10. Daphne Maia says:

    don’t give in to the legal notice. they’re just trying to scare u.

  11. scapetist says:

    Obviously, you’re in the right.
    Thus, sue them back! demand compensation.. haha..

  12. you all becareful, wait he sue all of you as well!

  13. OMG hope you are coping well. Hope you have evidence to prove that they are being ridiculous. Shall never visit that restaurant every again. will spread the word. wth. what a bully.

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  15. oh my goodness..such audacity of them to do that and so unprofessional.

  16. I hereby announce “official boycott” to this restaurant.

  17. OMG this Restaurant is !!!

  18. I bet you won’t be eating there again!

    Don’t let them bully you. This is completely ridiculous. Your witnesses can easily prove the legitimacy of your review.

    It’s disgusting that a restaurant would stoop to this level to try to keep a clean image online. Seems like it’s all about the money, not customers, to them.

  19. spelling nazi says:

    Oh good grief, it’s “management’s advice”, not “advise”.

    …I smell a scare tactic.

  20. stomp it man…

    they have obviously overlooked the possibilities of social media. first rule of customer relationship management – stop the complaint where it was first experienced. otherwise it goes online, u gave them a second chance, this kind of reply… gone case… its gonna go viral on the net.

  21. They can’t do anything against you. Don’t expect compassion or compensation from thugs.

  22. have said that the email from the restaurant, can be taken as an evidence for threatening and blackmailing financially, slandering you and your grief, affecting you emotionally with injustise and threats.
    if they apologied, you better get them to publish on the newspaper to show sincerity. don’t let them get away as they may never repent

  23. Ultimate … I couldn’t believe any restaurant could be so desperate … A simple apology could have sufficed x-( …!!!

  24. This story is crazy and what a waste of everyone’s time! As someone said above, a simple apology was all that needed, and of course, a comped meal. Was there ever any resolution to this?

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