Rate My Service: A True Story about a Devastating Critique

I once needed some guitar supplies for a kumzitz. I didn’t feel like shlepping to the stores I normally go to and with the help of Google I discovered a store close to my office called Mike’s Music. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t know about it after all these years working in the area.

I wanted to first check online ratings before making the trip. Most were excellent, but then I found this one:

suzanne TC 3 reviews a year ago-

It is all about greed and money. They have a very unfair makeup/cancelation policy. So if class falls on a holiday ( Ex. July 4th) and the center is closed, they still charge you for the class, . They do not pay the teachers for that day either, so free money for them. According to their policy it is up to the costumer to schedule a make up. However, the teachers are all always fully booked. It is almost impossible to schedule a make up class. Their solution: They offer substitutes. But they are missing the point, after working with a teacher for many years, I don’t need a stranger who has never met my child nor know anything about his progress hanging out with him for 30 minutes. I don’t call that a “make up ” class. That is just a waste of time and money.

Also their parking stinks.

Bottom line: I don’t recommend them, Mike and his wife are greedy people.

I finished reading the review and had my doubts about going. I didn’t want to give my business to a greedy, inconsiderate person. But then I noticed that the owner, Mike, had responded. I read further:

Response from the owner 7 months ago

Hi Suzanne,

Wow, where do I start?

How about, “Mike and his wife are greedy people.”? Congratulations, you’ve ruined my day. This is so untrue and hurtful. You don’t know me or my wife. You have no idea how much of our time and money we donate to our community, to those in need, to veterans, to schools every year. I may be a lot of things, but greedy isn’t one of them.

“They have a very unfair makeup/cancellation policy.” Actually, I believe our makeup policy to be just about the most fair I’ve seen in the music lesson business. If your lesson falls on a holiday that we are closed (Ex. July 4th) we PRORATE that month and you actually do not pay for that lesson. If you need to cancel a lesson, we only ask to be notified by the night before. If you do need to cancel on the same day of your lesson we pay our teacher for the lesson, so you would not be able to make it up.

“The teachers are always fully booked.” This is not exactly true, but we do our best to keep their schedules pretty full. Perhaps if our teachers weren’t so amazing they may have more openings?

“They offer substitutes.” This is true. If your teacher is sick or on vacation we will have a substitute. When I was a kid taking guitar lessons, I would show up once in a while and there would be a substitute. I would actually be excited to learn something brand new and different from a new instructor. I realize that some kids and parents prefer not to have substitutes. Not a problem. All you need to do is let us know you don’t want a sub and we will always let you know if/when your teacher is unavailable and we will reschedule your lesson.

“Parking stinks.” I can’t really dispute this one. The parking lot is a bit small for our growing business. We’re working on possible solutions and will let everyone know when we find an answer.


I was touched by his vulnerability, his admission that he wasn’t perfect, and the dignified way in which he explained himself and addressed the complaints. I want to meet this guy, I thought to myself, and decided I’m going to Mike’s Music.

Later that day, I stopped in at Mike’s. I picked him out right away – a hardworking guy running a business, saying hi to customers, stocking shelves, and answering questions from his employees.

I went over to him. “Mike?”

“Yep. You are…?”

“I’m Shlomo Horwitz.”

“Do we know each other?”

“Sort of. I read the Google review about you.”

“Which one?”

“Ummm – the one where they called you greedy.”

Mike was taken aback.

“What?! That review gets me so upset. I was just looking at it today!”

“I know, and I totally understand that. But the way you responded to that negativity is what brought me here. I thought you were so dignified, and I sensed that you were in the right.”

Mike couldn’t believe it. “Larry!” he shouted.

Larry looked up from behind the counter. “What’s up?”

Mike pointed to me. “This guy is here because of the BAD review!”

I was so happy to give Mike the business (and not because he gave me a 10% discount for coming). My heart went out to Mike. Someone wronged him unfairly and plastered it on the internet where it now resides forever. This could have been devastating to his business.

He didn’t respond and claim he’s perfect and he’s a gem of a human being, and that his store and policies, parking, etc were all fantastic. He admitted that he wasn’t flawless and that certain things need fixing. But he also elegantly explained that certain perceptions the reviewer had were mistaken.

It made me think of the effects of lashon hara (negative gossip) and the ability to destroy someone’s reputation by using the latest technology. I wondered how often I fell into the trap of believing something hurtful just because I saw it in writing.

Mike was vulnerable and honest, and I found that so rare and refreshing.

Maybe this is a reflection of how God views us when we approach Him this Yom Kippur. He doesn’t want us to paint a false and flattering picture of ourselves. We need to confront our flaws and faults.

But He also doesn’t want us to put ourselves down needlessly and feel worthless. He wants us to be honest. He wants us to recognize our triumphs and successes, too.

And if we are honest, perhaps He will appreciate us so much more. After all, honesty is the critical foundation of a relationship. How much more so in a relationship that lasts forever – between us and God.

This post first appeared on

Shlomo Horwitz can be reached on his site at More information about him appears below.

About the Author
Shlomo Horwitz has over 25 years of experience in Jewish education and outreach for both adults and children, getting his start by working with street kids in a Tel Aviv slum during the 1982 war in Lebanon. A product of Yeshivat Sha'alvim in Israel and Yeshivat Ner Yisrael in Baltimore, Shlomo is a CPA and works full-time as a director at a research firm which consults to the US and foreign governments. He also conducts a daily Talmud class in Baltimore, plays lead guitar and loves kayaking. Shlomo provides programming in the form of Jewish educational theater, and has presented around the globe for synagogues, schools and summer camps, including in Israel, England, Canada and across the U.S. You can find him online at