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How to deal with online critics: A lesson from Frank on Wheels' Ramadan Bazaar episode

How to deal with online critics: A lesson from Frank on Wheels' Ramadan Bazaar episode

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A cease-and-desist letter has been issued to a TikToker after he posted a "brutally honest" review of Ramadan bazaar stall Frank on Wheels.

The incident began when TikTok user 'Gunbuttock' took to TikTok to share a video of him trying fries from Frank on Wheels which currently has a stall at the Kampong Glam Ramadan food bazaar. In the video, the TikToker said that in his opinion purchasing fries from the stall is a waste of money and that the 'smoked' aspect of the fries was simply dry ice added to the packaging.  He added that the fries were rather "basic".

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Unfortunately, the owners of Frank on Wheels were unhappy with the review video and commented under it saying, "What do you mean by basic fries? So, the fries you eat at [a] hawker are different?" The individual who posted, who goes by the name 'AbayaByKhalishaSg' added that they would have appreciated if the TikTok-er had come over to let them know their thoughts rather that posting on social media. 

"It takes a lot of effort to post here [rather] than coming to me to tell me his experience," Frank on Wheels added. The owner added that the fries the TikTok-er bought was imported and premium and therefore, not basic. 

Despite netizens siding the TikTok individual and his right to his own opinion, particularly when he bought the food with his own money and was using his own platform to air his thoughts, Frank on Wheels decided to double down. After accusing the TikTok-er of simply "wanting content", the owner asked, "So posting this is not immature? Rating someone's business [and] not even putting in the effort to tell us something is wrong with our food is not immature?"

The owner then asked if paying customers can do "anything they want" without the seller having a say. 

In response to queries, 'Gunbuttock' posted a video on TikTok saying that his goal was to create a platform that "empowers" individuals and families, particularly those on a budget, to make informed dining decisions. 

"In an environment where business owners leverage paid influencer marketing, I strive to provide honest, unfiltered reviews that reflect my genuine perspective," he said. He added that he feels that charging restaurant prices for food that falls "even below fast-food quality" presents an "ethical concern".

"Ultimately, my content aims to empower consumers by allowing them to weigh the value proposition before making a decision," he said. 

The cease-and-desist letter

Yesterday, 'Gunbuttock' took to TikTok to share screenshots saying that since the interaction, Frank on Wheels had served him a cease-and-desist letter through Abdul Rahman Law Corporation. In the letter, the TikToker was accused of making "defamatory and false statements" against the stall. 

The letter added that he had accused its client of "overcharging their customers" and "engaging in "suspicious business practices".

"This is prejudicial to our client's reputation as a business as it is factually inaccurate and also designed to injure them," it said. 

It added that subsequent videos of compilations of Frank on Wheel's responses were "designed to aggravate the tension caused by the comment's section and is an act laden with mischief". 

The letter then said that Frank on Wheels "hereby demands" that he issue a public apology immediately on social media and that they provide a signed letter of apology to the company within 14 days of receipt of the letter.

Responding to consumers online

Since to incident, many netizens have spoken up online to say that Frank on Wheels should have simply taken the feedback quietly and made improvements in their food instead of starting a public fight with a consumer. 

However, as a small business, it might be a lot harder as they simply may not have thought of what do in a situation such as this, according to Pei Lin Cho, managing director of APRW. 

"The business likely does not have a marketing team or resources to seek strategic counsel and advice. As many small businesses are managed and operated solely by the owner, they also take feedback personally instead of being able to see the point of view that it is feedback about the 'brand'," she said.

Agreeing with her, Kristian Olsen, founder and managing director of Type A said that while it may be easy to sit down and say that you would or should never do something like this, the case in question is a small business who is setting up shop to make a living. He also noted that they are paying "exorbitant rental prices" for what is essentially, a traditional Bazaar.

Kristian Olsen added that there are always two sides to a story but that online, the way that seems to work best is to avoid the blame game, be authentic to your brand and take the high road.  "We all know this already and I shouldn’t have to repeat things that were written down in social media playbooks when they used to exist in 2011," he added. 

Every bit of feedback counts

Saying that, every bit of feedback counts, according to Kimberley Olsen, co-founder of Yatta Workshop. 

"Brands should be jumping in on every comment, the good, the bad, and everything in between," she said, "And when you're looking at what success looks like there, it’s all about how much you’re engaging. So, yes, every bit of feedback counts."

People just want to know you’re listening. Brushing off the negative stuff? That’s like opening the door and inviting a storm in.

She added that often, brands find themselves in a full-blown crisis because they didn’t address something when it was just a whisper. "It's pretty simple—stay engaged, show your followers you’re there, and you’re listening. It’s all part of keeping that connection strong and genuine," she said. 

Keep it real, keep it classy

Saying that, Kimberley Olsen noted that when it comes to brands dealing with opinions online, especially not so great ones, how brands respond can really make or break things. She said:

Your response as a brand isn’t just words on a screen; it’s a reflection of what you stand for, your vibe, and how much you genuinely care about your people.

She added that these moments when a brand is responding to critique are golden and they are a brand's chance to show that they are not just another faceless brand but one that really listens and values what customers have to say.

"When you’re tackling this kind of feedback, the goal is to keep it real but also keep it classy. Dive into that conversation with a mindset to solve things, and if things are getting heated, suggest taking it off the public stage to sort out the details," she said. 

Kimberley Olsen added that a good idea would be to circle back after things are smoothed over with a follow-up post to let consumers know that everything is well now. "This move shows you’re on top of your game, respectful, and honestly, that you care. That’s the kind of stuff that flips the script, turning critics into champions for your brand."

Agreeing with her, Samuel Lee, content strategy director at Hashmeta explained that a brand's response to criticism should be thoughtful and address the concerns raised by the customer. It should aim to resolve the issue or clarify any misunderstandings, maintaining a respectful and positive tone, he said.

He added that despite the minefield that responding to negative feedback can be, it is an opportunity to demonstrate good customer service and possibly turn a negative impression around.

Join us this coming 24 - 25 April for #Content360, a two-day extravaganza centered around four core thematic pillars: Explore with AI; Insight-powered strategies; Content as an experience; and Embrace the future. Immerse yourself in learning to curate content with creativity, critical thinking, and confidence with us at Content360!

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Doritos cut ties with transgender influencer following backlash over tweets  
It's a woke world: How can brands manage brand image while taking a stand?  

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