Don’t call Gillece.
That’s the advice given by the dissatisfied customers of a Bridgville-based (Pennsylania) HVAC and plumbing company called Gillece, which is known locally for TV and radio commercials that urge homeowners to “call Gillece.”
Negative customer feedback hurting the company’s brand reputation
As suggested by evidence on online review platform Yelp as well as on customer-feedback-driven sites, Gillece’s brand reputation isn’t exactly what one would describe as “glowing” – despite the visibility it has achieved through traditional advertising.
“Gillece was one of the worst choices that we ever made,” reads a one-star review on the company’s Yelp page. “They are liars and thieves.”
Reads another: “Just spoke to Gillece and frankly I’ve never experienced such terrible customer service. Laugh the next time you see the stupid owner on a billboard with a bird on his shoulder.”
An anonymous individual has also set up www.dontcallgillece.com and www.dontcallgillece.wordpress.com, sites that dare to tell “Gillece horror stories” by publishing collected customer feedback – the worst kind.
Here are some excerpts of negative reviews on both sites:
We had Gillece replace our heating and air conditioning unit in 2010, for $10,000 and it has never worked properly since. Every time I call them they do something to get it working sort of and then tell me I need to get their $60 service plan so that they will respond faster and I won’t be charged. Crazy.
JUST LOOK AT THE GILLECE PLUMBING COMPANY: THEY LIE, CHEAT, STEAL, AND WHEN CALLED OUT ON IT, THEY PLAY THE VICTIM!!! WAKE UP AND SNAP OUT OF IT EVERYONE.
These are just examples of what you’d find about the company on the Internet. On another site – http://www.gillece.pissedconsumer.com – the ratings for Gillece are unanimously low, and the single good thing a customer had to say about the company was that the “(rep) on the phone was nice.”
Fighting back with defamation lawsuit
Gillece is fighting back against all these negative reviews and unpleasant customer feedback. Recently, the company sued over the negative comments on www.dontcallgillece.com and www.dontcallgillece.wordpress.com, claiming that “the defamatory, false and disparaging comments caused Gillece harm and damage to Gillece’s business reputation.”
Gillece is suing for damages in excess of $35,000, yet it seems that taking legal action has caused a kind of Streisand Effect and prompted more customers to air out their grievances via social media and the comment sections of news reports. (Also check out: Shades and Blinds Company Sues Customer for Writing Negative Yelp Review)
Reads a comment posted on Facebook: “Gillece rep told my elderly aunts that he would report them to the county and that they would be evicted from their home if they didn’t get the sewer line repaired. $14,000+ later for a few feet of pipe on a level lot.”
“Best change your name and marketing tactics,” reads another Facebook comment. “Your business is very exposed. Call anyone but Gillece is a very common saying around Pittsburgh. Good luck with that. Sue me.”
Best practices in review management
While the lawsuit may produce an outcome in which Gillece emerges victorious, the case highlights yet once again the importance of managing online reviews effectively – without, that is, resorting to legal action.
Focus on solving the customer’s problem. From the content of Gillece’s negative reviews, it seems that the company is more aggressive in its sales, marketing, advertising, and upselling efforts than in fixing the plumbing.
If it only invested more in the latter, the company can perhaps generate more positive reviews and five-star ratings – so that eventually its reputation problem will resolve itself.
Don’t respond to negative customer feedback by suing. When managing online reviews – good or bad, fair or unfair, real or fake – legal action should be your last resort. It sends a message – “Shut it,” “Don’t say anything” – that can easily be perceived by your most vocal customers as a threat.
There are other, more effective ways to deal with what customers are saying, such as writing management responses, improving operational policies, performing service training, and committing to service excellence. (Check out: 9 Effective Tips for Responding to Online Critics)
No amount of great advertising will clean a dirty backyard. Gillece is known around town for its commercials and “Call Gillece” slogan. The company has also, according to reports, taken to cybersquatting in hopes of building buzz around its brand. Yet these are all for naught if it continues to ignore customer feedback and identify the issues that are being talked about in negative online reviews.