After recently refusing service to a man who wasn’t wearing a mask, Pitstop Cafe owner Jenny Sok discovered her Hastings eatery’s online reputation had taken a hit.
The customer initially posted about his experience at the Mornington Peninsula cafe on a Facebook page for Reignite Democracy Australia — which has been involved in several anti-lockdown rallies in Melbourne — and claimed he wasn’t wearing the mask for medical reasons. Another member of the page responded: “Everyone should give them a bad rating.”
In the days that followed, four people posted one-star reviews of the cafe and accused the small business owner of discrimination. “How dare you refuse service to someone for not wearing a rag over their face,” a one-star reviewer on Google wrote. “I hope you go broke.”
Ms Sok said the experience left her so shaken she closed her shop for a day.
“It is very bad for us,” she said. “I was so upset. They never said they had medical issues.”
Small Business Minister Jaala Pulford. Credit:Daniel Pockett
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia acting chief executive Alexi Boyd said she was appalled by the behaviour. Negative reviews could make or break a business, she said.
She said the state government’s expectation that small businesses enforce COVID-19 rules was unreasonable and had led to anxiety and customer abuse.
“It is a real kick in the guts when you’re in a situation that is out of your control and are then targeted by…