How Not to Run a Business

I’ve been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares recently, and ran across the infamous Amy’s Baking Company episode. This is probably the most talked about episode of the program, because the behavior of the business owners is ridiculously horrid. Gordon Ramsay literally quit trying to help because the owners were completely deluded about the quality of their food and service (this is only the 2nd time he has ever quit on a business). Amy’s Baking Company believed in an internet conspiracy against them on yelp! and other ratings websites, denied that any of the complaints were based in fact.

When food got sent back to the kitchen, the customers were told “you don’t know how to eat” or “you don’t know how the food should be, that’s not my problem”. The chef (Amy) was completely unable to take any criticism. 

I was reminded of Better Birth the entire time I watched this episode. They have the exact same model of dealing with complaints. I had to push for any response at all, and when I got an email back Suzanne Smith told me that I was wrong and that I must be lying about my complaints, but they also said that what happened was also somehow what I should have expected. Then later they put up their “negative review?” page where they said customers who are complaining have unreasonable expectations, or that they did not “perceive the events of labor correctly”. Amy didn’t taste any of the food that came back and was adamant that it was fine. Suzanne Smith (the owner of Better Birth) wasn’t present for any of the exams I complained about, but she is certain that nothing inappropriate happened. 

There is a point in the episode where Gordon Ramsay confronts Amy about her inability to take criticism. She fires back that she is just fine with criticism. Better Birth says the same thing on their “negative review” page, but then they denigrate anyone who has complained as crazy or a liar. Amy says she is fine with criticism but when the criticisms are brought up she rejects them all using some pretty ridiculous rationalizations.

Amy’s Baking Company does not deliver what it advertises, either. They say “home made” ravioli when its from another company and is frozen. They let people tip the waiters but the owner actually takes the tips and pockets them. When gordon ramsay informs customers of these things they are (rightly) appalled. Better Birth promises they will make your birth what you want it to be, that they will respect you and let you be in control, and then forces exams on patients who disclosed a history of sexual abuse. They deny you food unless you consent to another exam. Other women have complained of being disrobed when they did not want to be, having lots of spectators in the room and experiencing humiliation while giving birth. When I alert potential customers to these events they are also (rightly) appalled. 

This is the worst possible way to run a business. Their reaction to the lawsuit (the negative review? page) is seriously off putting to most people because it is completely unprofessional to discuss anything about your patients or their health history on the internet. Amy made a point of getting on yelp to respond to the negative reviews by calling their authors “losers”, better birth made a point of making a web page to call me crazy. 

Better Birth does not take any responsibility for what happened, just like the owners of the bakery. Amy believes there is a conspiracy of “haters” on yelp that are out to get her. Suzanne Smith thinks I am out to get her. I want to warn other people so that this doesn’t happen to them. All I want is accountability, and I have given Better Birth multiple opportunities to step up and solve this. They still could, but I have zero faith at this point that they are going to do the right thing. It would restore some of my faith in humanity if she were to actually do something about the problems I brought up, but like the narcissitic owner of Amy’s Baking Company, the owner of Better Birth is desperate to shift the blame onto everyone but herself for how her business has turned out.

I am fairly certain that mediation wasn’t entered into with good faith, it was probably just a way to keep this website down as long as possible. That’s okay, when you run a business that poorly it will end eventually, even without people like me who risk legal proceedings in order to expose them. You just can’t treat people this way and expect them to be happy with the services.You can’t call people crazy or full of shit when they give you feedback and expect anyone to take your side.  

There are so many parallels between Amy’s Baking Company and Better Birth of Utah, but there is one aspect of their business that is very different. If someone gets a meal that doesn’t taste good its just unsatisfying, but if someone receives inappropriate care during labor there is the potential for disastrous consequences. My life has been permanently impacted by these events, and I know that the first year of my baby’s life was a time of needless misery instead of happiness. I can’t get that time back, I can’t do it over. My child deserved a mother who wasn’t traumatized. Childbirth can be a matter of life or death, and Better Birth can’t be bothered to conduct themselves with any degree of professionalism. I wish people this irresponsible and narcissistic would stick to trivial things like selling cakes.

 

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