Barre Cleveland -Social shouldn’t mean stupid: Backlash from the Barre

A few weeks ago, I blogged about attending a certain Barre studio class on Cleveland’s east side with a group of my friends. I stated my opinion in an honest manner, like I always do. To reiterate, I enjoyed switching up my workout routine and said I might even make a sporadic trip back. But, I was candid and said the class cost is out of my ‘working out price range.’ $25 for a one-hour workout IN MY OPINION, is slightly insane (especially in Cleveland).

Come Friday, the company found my blog post and re-posted it on their Facebook and Twitter account saying they are upset west siders feel the prices are too expensive. Then all social media Hell broke loose. From emails to direct messages to text messages, friends and strangers showed their support for me voicing my opinion and firmly sticking to my guns. And frankly, most people were amazed a company would commit social media suicide in such a dramatic manner.

As I crafted my responses on Friday, I maintained my professionalism as best as I could, but I have to admit, they did make me angry. And I wasn’t mad because they were attacking me (ok, maybe a little). I was mad because this brand new company, with potential to be THE barre studio in northeast Ohio was breaking every social media no-no known to man.

Confronting not only me, but handfuls of other potential paying customers online? Check.
Blocking those same potential customers on Twitter? Check.
Looking as if they can’t stand a little criticism? Check.
Taking what they viewed as a negative review and turning it into an opportunity to gain some customers? No, they didn’t do this (but they should have).
Deleting their negative and aggressive Facebook and Twitter impulse posts? Check.

The list could go on. As the weekend went by, I didn’t think much about the online war of words that took place on Friday. However, I decided I wouldn’t post the defensive and inexcusable tweets that were sent on behalf of the studio because I didn’t want to mess with someone’s livelihood: their business. I changed my mind come Monday:

This is simply a taste of the bickering and whining I was dealing with. Instead of engaging them in this immature battle, I politely gave them some advice that I bet they’re now regretting they didn’t follow:

As Monday rolled around, you would assume this situation would have been forgotten about, as it should have been. Things got much more interesting when this comment wound up on my blog:

I’m no attorney (but I have friends who are!) and I know this not only is this a defamatory statement but it’s clearly a threat. Will I remove any of my tweets or my blog post? HELL NO. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and the funniest part? I didn’t bash this studio – it was a classy joint, I just wonder if they will survive this PR nightmare.

Of course I didn’t ‘steal’ this class. I was provided a code that many other women used throughout the studio’s opening week. I have the receipt to prove it – glad their email reminded me to save one for my records! If they didn’t want this code floating around on the internet, they shouldn’t have put it on the internet, should have made it a unique code, should have never accepted it in the first place online or when we checked in at the front desk.

By noon on Monday I had already been contacted by various media outlets. This headline is not only amazing, but the story hits the nail on the head: Ballet Gym Goes All Black Swan On Blogger, Threatens To Call Police After Innocuous Comment (via consumerist.com).

What’s the lesson learned here? Well, there are many in my opinion but it’s abundantly clear that the internet will always win – you can’t simply delete something and think your problem has magically gone away. The power of social media is enormous. This situation should have been a simple lesson for people who are clearly not equipped with an online strategy or social media crisis plan.

Instead, it’s become bigger than this isolated incident. Sadly for Barre Cleveland, they have lost dozens (if not more) of potential customers because of their trigger finger online and by stoking a dying fire days later with an accusatory blog comment. The damage is done – just look at what is being said on Twitter.

Hey, Barre: Thanks for all the blog traffic.

91 comments to Barre Cleveland -Social shouldn’t mean stupid: Backlash from the Barre

  • Amen sister! Great follow up, I’ll be very curious to see what if anything comes from Barre Cleveland, err…maybe an apology?

  • Had seen a couple of the tweets back and forth last week, but didn’t know how much this business pushed it til chatting with Charlene and a couple others over the weekend.

    WOW is all I can say.

    Outside of the price issue (I completely agree – it’s not competitive with other fitness classes offered across both sides of the city), in all honesty it’s their inability to listen to customer feedback that would keep me from trying them out.

    Whether your business has been open 2 weeks or 10 years, honest feedback about both a customer’s experience and their perception of the value/cost should be welcomed. Not just from bloggers, but from all of a business’s customers (it’s just with social media platforms and blogging – as this situation has made very clear – this feedback has the potential to reach a larger audience).

    It’s disappointing to see them react this way and not take your post constructively. Even if they have valid reasons for keeping the price point where it is, there was no excuse to react that way.

  • Let us remember: this is NOT a social media failure. Social media happened to be in use at the time. This is a customer service failure, and a failure of human decency.

    • Bannshee

      I’d say it’s both, Chris. You’re right; it’s a total customer service and human decency fail, but I think it’s also a social media fail.

      Barre Cleveland doesn’t “get” social media – they neither understand the viral power it wields, nor the absolutely quantifiable impact it can have on a brand (which can and will translate into sales lost or gained). What’s worse, they decided to pick on someone who does get these things (lucky for them she is classy enough not to unleash a can of viral whoop-ass).

      IMO, it’s a fail all the way around. The social media fail…well, maybe they can learn from it. The being-an-effing-human fail? Not so much.

  • By the way, that’s fantastic you stood by your opinion and didn’t back down. I wouldn’t expect anything less, but still wanted to share my appreciation for that.

  • I’ve been under a rock since Friday (AKA at yoga teacher training), am just learning about your last few days and am FLOORED by all of this. I’m appalled at how they’ve reacted towards your original post, which I considered to be a very fair review. I’m having reactions as a blogger, as a group fitness class attendee, as a soon-to-be yoga instructor… but all I can say is thank you for staying your ground and for your honesty in all of this.

  • The threat on your own blog is what slays me …social media stupidity is everywhere. But a legal threat in writing without merit? Holy crap that takes the prize. Buh-bye, Barre.

  • Ha

    No wonder Mario Salwan is so bitter. Guessing his attitude is the reason for prior failed businesses considering their failure to pay their mortgage. I wonder if Countrywide knows about this business, I’d bet they still owe a little money on the house.

    http://www.dln.com/sheriffsalesforeclosure/details/id/60193

    Sheriff’s Sales – Foreclosures

    Sale No. 081

    SHERIFF’S SALE

    (Cause No. 696267 Alias)

    The State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County, ss. Pursuant to the command of and order of sale issued from the Court of Common Pleas of said county, and to me directed, in the action of

    BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, f.k.a. Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, plaintiff vs. Mario F. Salwan, et al., defendants,

    The Sheriff of Cuyahoga County shall offer for sale at public auction, in the Justice Center, in the City of Cleveland, County of Cuyahoga and State of Ohio, on

    Monday, the 20th day of June,

    A.D. 2011, beginning at 8:30 o’clock A.M. of said day, the following described lands and tenements to wit:

    Situated in the City of Shaker Heights, County of Cuyahoga, State of Ohio, and known as being Sublot No. 1176 in the Van Sweringen Company’s Re-Subdivision No. 2 of Subdivision No. 21 of part of Original Warrensville Township Lots Nos. 53 and 54, as shown by the recorded plat in Volume 67 of Maps, Page 24 of Cuyahoga County Records, and being 40 feet front on the easterly side of Strandhill Road, and extending back of equal width 150 feet, as appears by the said plat, be the same more or less, but subject to all legal highways.

    The above described property is further known as a single brick dwelling with two car garage, located at 3597 Strandhill Road, in the City of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

    A deposit of a CERTIFIED CHECK, payable to the Sheriff, or CASH, for ten (10%) per cent of the purchase price will be required at the time the bid is accepted; except where the amount bid is $3,000.00 or less, the minimum deposit shall be $300.00 and the maximum deposit in any case shall be $10,000.00

    The FULL purchase price shall be paid TO THE SHERIFF within THIRTY (30) days from the date of sale, and unless paid within eight (8) days from the date of sale shall bear interest at the rate of ten (10%) per cent until paid, and on failure to do so, the purchaser, shall be adjudged in contempt of court.

    Appraised at $95,000.00.

    Terms of sale cash.

    The Sheriff of Cuyahoga County.

    Richard J. Feuerman, Attorney.

    May21-28 Jun4, 2011

  • Ha

    Looks like Mario has bigger problems than you!

    http://oh.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19960530_0042026.OH.htm/qx

    May 30, 1996

    STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
    v.
    MARIO SALWAN DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

    CHARACTER OF PROCEEDING Criminal appeal from Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-313,796 JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

    The opinion of the court was delivered by: Timothy E. McMONAGLE, J.

    JOURNAL ENTRY and OPINION

    Defendant-appellant Mario Salwan appeals from his conviction following a bench trial for felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11. We find no merit to the appeal and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

    This case arose out of events transpiring on May 14, 1994, when Matthew Van DeMotter was feloniously assaulted near Meadow-brook Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The state’s testimony is summarized below.

    On May 13, 1994, Matthew Van DeMotter and his girlfriend, Rebecca Rene King, went out for the evening with another couple, William Butler and Melissa Vertes. At approximately 1:30 a.m., the group went to Mama’s Boy, a fast-food, carry-out restaurant, to purchase a late night snack. As they were about to enter Mama’s Boy, a group of approximately six males between the ages of seventeen to twenty was leaving the establishment. Butler held the door open for the males, and his shoulder brushed up against one of the males. The male shoved Butler and said, “What’s your problem?” Butler responded that he did not have a problem and asked the male what his problem was. Believing the male wanted to start a fight, Butler went inside Mama’s Boy to escape the male and rejoin his friends.

    While the four waited for their food order, the male who shoved Butler came back into Mama’s Boy and asked Butler why he tried to knock him over. Butler could see the male’s friends standing outside the front window watching them converse. Butler told the male he did not mean to brush him and that he was sorry. The male then left Mama’s Boy, telling Butler, “You’ll be sorry.”

    When their food order was ready, Van DeMotter, King, Butler and Vertes exited Mama’s Boy. As they made their way past the males, the males yelled unrecognizable comments at them. The group walked down the street to get out sight of the males and sat down on a step to eat their food.

    A few minutes later, three of the males from the group walked up to where they were sitting. One of the males, described as tall, thin and having blonde hair, was yelling at Butler, asking him why he pushed his friend. Butler told Van DeMotter, King and Vertes to stay where they were, and he stood up to try to negotiate peace with the male. Van DeMotter then stood up and started talking to another male from the group, telling the male that they did not want any problems. Upon observing Van DeMotter and this other male sizing one another up, Butler told Van DeMotter that they should leave. After he said this, the third male, who wore his hair in a pony tail, punched Van DeMotter. Someone then struck Butler from behind, and a fight broke out. The fight ceased after a few minutes when someone yelled, “It’s the police,” and the males took off running.

    A few minutes later, however, the assault resumed when the police were out of sight and Butler and Van DeMotter were attacked from behind. Butler was jumped by the male whom he first encountered in the doorway at Mama’s Boy. Van DeMotter was jumped by the appellant and then held by another male while the appellant punched and kicked him.

    • John

      Holy Jesus. It’s amazing that he’s getting flamed up over absolutely nothing again. I have to think that these are not isolated incidents and is indicative of a much more serious problem.

      Mario, apparently you seem completely incapable of controlling yourself and it is now costing you or your employer their business. This behavior could completely ruin your life (if it hasn’t already). You need to seek some help with your anger problems dude. Life is too short to be a raging dick to anyone that crosses your path.

  • Ha

    This explains the foreclosure:

    http://our.bbb.org/Cleveland/Public/Reports/RR/Print.aspx?firm=39002771

    BBB Business Review Reliability Report for
    Garage Finisher, Inc.

    Rating: F

    BBB issues Reliability Reports on all businesses, whether or not they are BBB accredited. If a business is a BBB Accredited Business, it is stated in this report.
    BBB Accreditation

    This business is not a BBB Accredited Business. On February 29, 2012 and again on April 20, 2012, BBB contacted this company regarding their use of BBB’s logo on their website.

    This company is not listed in our records as an Accredited BBB Business. Use of a registered trademark constitutes trademark infringement and may constitute deceptive advertising.

    The company has yet to comply with this request, indicating he does not have means to remove BBB’s logo.
    BBB Rating

    Based on BBB files, this business has a BBB Rating of F on a scale from A+ to F.

    Factor(s) that lowered this business’ rating include:

    Advertising issue(s) found by BBB
    BBB rating is based on 16 factors. Click here for details about the factors considered.

    Business Contact & Profile

    Business Name:
    Garage Finisher, Inc.
    Slide-Lok of Cleveland
    Business Address: 4530 Renaissance Pkwy
    Cleveland, OH 44128

    Original Business Start Date: 1/1/2006
    Type of Entity: Corporation
    Incorporated: 2007 in OH
    Principal:
    Mario Salwan, President

  • Ha

    Whoopsies and here’s *another* foreclosure:

    http://www.dln.com/courtcommonpleas/details/ref_index/29119

    November 15, 2011
    Case Number
    769168
    Amount
    $143,393.39
    Case Type
    Foreclosure
    Judge
    Judge P. Barker
    Plaintiff
    Filed by.
    Bank of America
    7105 Corporate Dr., Mail Stop Ptx-C-35
    Plano, TX 75024
    Plaintiff’s Attorney
    Jeffrey Alan Tobe
    Lerner Samson & Rothfuss LPA
    120 East Fourth Street, 8th Fl
    Cincinnati OH 45202

    Owner
    Salwan, Mario F. & Yanna

    Their snobbery in the wake of two foreclosures and a couple of failed businesses is hilarious!

  • Ha

    Jesus Christ and *ANOTHER* foreclosure:

    http://www.dln.com/sheriffsalesforeclosure/details/id/76515

    Sheriff’s Sales – Foreclosures

    Sale No. 160

    SHERIFF’S SALE

    (Cause No. 677342)

    The State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County, ss. Pursuant to the command of and order of sale issued from the Court of Common Pleas of said county, and to me directed, in the action of

    Eton Place Homeowners Association, plaintiff vs. Mario F. Salwan, et al., defendants,

    The Sheriff of Cuyahoga County shall offer for sale at public auction, in the Justice Center, in the City of Cleveland, County of Cuyahoga and State of Ohio, on

    Monday, the 19th day of September,

    A.D. 2011, beginning at 8:30 o’clock A.M. of said day, the following described lands and tenements to wit:

    Situated in the City of Pepper Pike, County of Cuyahoga, State of Ohio, and known as being Sublot No. 195 in Block B, in the Villa Ridge Allotment of part of Original Orange Township Lot No. 9, Tract No. 2, as shown by the recorded plat in Volume 24 of Maps, Page 26 of Cuyahoga County Records, as appears by said plat, be the same more or less, but subject to all legal highways.

    The above described property is further known as a single brick dwelling with attached two car garage, located at 3512 Sutton Road, in the City of Pepper Pike, Ohio.

    A deposit of a CERTIFIED CHECK, payable to the Sheriff, or CASH, for ten (10%) per cent of the purchase price will be required at the time the bid is accepted; except where the amount bid is $3,000.00 or less, the minimum deposit shall be $300.00 and the maximum deposit in any case shall be $10,000.00

    The FULL purchase price shall be paid TO THE SHERIFF within THIRTY (30) days from the date of sale, and unless paid within eight (8) days from the date of sale shall bear interest at the rate of ten (10%) per cent until paid, and on failure to do so, the purchaser, shall be adjudged in contempt of court.

    Appraised at $200,000.00.

  • Ha

    And here comes Capital One:

    http://www.dln.com/courtmunicipal/details/ref_index/18176

    Municipal Capital One Bank USA, NA Mario F. Salwan

    Date Filed
    September 10, 2010
    Case Number
    H 018192
    Judge
    Plaintiff
    Filed by.
    Capital One Bank USA, NA
    Plaintiff’s Attorney
    Sharon Grace Pietras
    Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co. LPA
    323 W. Lakeside Avenue, Suite
    Cleveland OH 44113

  • Well done Alana… well done indeed. Not only are these idiots getting exactly what they deserved, they’re proving once again that the “little guy” (IE, the consumer) will eventually win… especially when you introduce a Twitter account and a blog 😉

    I’ll be very interested to continue following the story, and you can guarantee that THIS east sider (and his wife) will never frequent Barre Cleveland.

  • Absolutely crazy. Regardless of the price (which I agree is steep. Then again, I also live on the West side so what do I know), their reaction was completely out of hand and incredibly poor customer service. It’s also going to backfire and as a longtime Consumerist reader, I was not at all surprised to see it show up.

    While it’s unfortunate that you having to go through this is what introduced me to your blog (thanks to other CLE bloggers Tweeting) I am 1) glad I now have a new blog to read and 2) yay for social media 🙂

  • I’m not sure if it’s the same thing (I do ballet type workouts like I dig in my yard for grubs), but there’s a place in Olmsted Falls called Over the Barre. It’s on Bagley Road across from Burger King.

    They may not be what you’re looking for, but there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be as stupid as this place.

  • ummmm this is crazy town. i’m totally on your side for this one.

  • great rebuttal alana 🙂 and to think people are still shocked at the impact social media can have. though your initial blog was hardly anything to get so completely worked up over … regardless, high fives to you for backing down.

  • ^for NOT backing down 😉

  • This is just crazy to me! But its true what social media can do. Its amazing that the facebook IPO was such a tank. Much like Barre’s attempt at retribution. I’m with ya sister!

  • I was reading everything on twitter today when I was on break and couldn’t believe it! To be honest, I really really wanted to try a Barre class after my race was over, until I looked at the website maybe a week or two ago and couldn’t find the location of the studio (it’s on there now) and saw the price. Not even a deal for new students just wanting to try it. I live on the east side and frequent some of the other private fitness studios and pretty much all drop in classes are $15. I could go to 6 yoga classes (in Beachwood) for the price of 3 Barre classes. So I definitely agree with your first post. I’m super bummed because I do live so close to the studio and would probably be a regular. But after all of this, not anymore.

  • Classy rebuttal by a classy lady. While I really hope this doesn’t continue, I’m sure interested to see how (or if) they respond or react further.:)

  • Unbelievable, except you have evidence. Nothing like holding your customer base in contempt to destroy a new business. He gets what he deserves.

  • Jen

    Alana,

    I also found your review to be fair. I’m glad you stood your ground as well. I love group fitness classes and have been considering barre classes as well. I work on the east side, so I would’ve ended up choosing this studio. Based on this epic failure of customer service, I will never attend classes there. I agree that the price is rather high for group classes as well. I would rather drive 40 miles out of my way than support a business like Barre Cleveland. Thank you for your honesty!

  • SM

    I found your blog through Consumerist and have to say that I am glad I did. I applaud you for being honest and not backing down. I agree that $25/class is very expensive for a Barre class. I take Barre classes in San Diego (at a studio by the beach) and they only change $18/class with numerous other discounts and promotions available. I find it a bit hard to believe that a new studio would charge that much. I support small businesses, but to be successful, they must embrace all feedback to improve upon their business. Maybe they will eventually learn from this experience, but if not; who cares…you have gained a larger audience/fan base! Thank you for posting/sharing about your experience.

  • This joint could have acted in a bunch of other completely reasonable ways, none of which they did. For example:

    –They could have ignored your blog post about them. They weren’t obligated to respond. You didn’t even say anything out of line!

    –They could have responded and just sympathized admitting that they are more expensive but respectfully stressed their value to you and explained a little bit why. And maybe reconsider a new pricing structure.

    –Since you said you liked it, they could have offered you a discount for a blog serious on what makes them different from all the other workouts out there. They’re new, right? So good publicity focusing on what you liked would have been great for them.

    –After the damage was done, they could have apologized and done the right thing. But nope!

    Too bad they burned this opportunity. Lesson learned, I hope.

  • As someone who knows a little bit about Customer Service (I kind of wrote the book on it – http://amzn.to/NKfCnY ) it still amazes me beyond belief that companies don’t think these things through. Consumerist.com and other media outlets LIVE on these kind of stories. The company could have turned this into a win on all counts, but didn’t. Instead, they’re taking it where the sun don’t shine. Good for you for sticking to your guns. Great read – Thank you. 🙂

    Good luck to you!

    -Peter Shankman

  • I’m still floored by all of this. It just blows my mind.

  • I saw some of the tweets on Friday and got more caught up after talking with Charlene and Julie on Saturday. I am shocked by their lack of professionalism especially being a new business and the only barre studio in the CLE area. I was considering checking out Barre at some point but that will not be happening. Alana, you handled this whole mess with class 🙂

  • Kate Z

    Wow. This just blows my mind. In the midst of a still struggling economy, this business is seemingly doing everything they can to push customers away. Sad indeed.

  • This is so disheartening, the tweets, the blocking, the threats, I hope you’re not letting this stress you out! You’re doing the right thing by holding your ground. What a melt down on their part 🙁

  • Bannshee

    Great assessment of yet another corporate social media FAIL.

    As a PR manager and fellow social media whatever-you-call-us, your checklist made me giggle. Also, Barre Cleveland probably didn’t think about checking out who it was that they were attacking…if they had, maybe they’d have thought twice before shooting from the lip. Then again, maybe not.

    Anyway, your response was understated and classy. While I’m enjoying the thought of Barre Cleveland squirming just a bit, it was nice to see that you took the high road instead. And you even got HARO’s Peter Shankman to come by and plug his book. Win!

  • I was shocked by all of this on Friday but when it continued on Monday I couldn’t believe it. Unbelievable from a new company and sadly they lost a lot of new or potential customers because of it. My mom read your original post and was confused because you didn’t say anything bad so she didn’t see why they made such a big fuss. I have to agree. It was a fair and honest post and nothing bad was said. Not sure what they were thinking.

    Is it too soon for me to suggest for someone else to open a westside location with better prices?

  • Susan T

    Bottom line… Alana Munro stole a class from Barre Cleveland. She writes a blog but won’t even pay for the class. She’s cheap and a thief and if I were her I would be worried about that.

    Barre Cleveland is expensive – so what! Everyone just needs to move on with their day already!

    • kelly shaw

      susan t,you are seriously disturbed.ive known alana for some time now and she is a honest person and doesnt need to steal a ballet class.whats the point of advertising a FREE PROMO unless you are prepared to honor each and every individual who uses it.until you have came up with an intelligent answer to such a resonable question then Barre Cleveland shouldnt be open.ITS CALLED FALSE ADVERTISING.when i go to the grocery store and use a coupon the manufacture doesnt contact me a week later calling me a thief and saying that coupon didnt apply to me.use your head susie.

    • fred zeppelin

      Gosh, Susan, may I remind you of an old adage – “reading is fundamental”?

      Seeing how Alana posted her certificate, and, with a ‘little’ searching their Twitter page (the Internet NEVER forgets…), you’d see the discount offer they provided, yet defame the woman with an obvious falsehood.

      Seeing the top of the comments that were posted, reading them, and even the original post, its pretty straight forward – overreaction, panic, fear, overbearing, and intimidation from the Barre folks. Not seeing that is amazing. No amount of the use of the ‘delete’ will erase this, and, even if it gets to court, the discovery phase with ‘truth-out’.

      Honestly, to make a statements of ‘stole’ and ‘thief’ in a public place (Internet, again…), also bounds upon willful slander and bearing false witness… Got\offer proof, or present an apology – no middle ground exists…

    • Dan

      I hope realize that your IP address will give away your identity. $100 says that this is a Barre Cleveland employee/manager/owner. You people are fucking idiots, and you’re just making it worse for yourselves.

    • Jonnelle

      Does the T in Susan T stand for “Troll?”

    • rasqual

      Susan, you’re grossly abusing the expression “bottom line,” inasmuch as the idea that she’s a thief isn’t even a credible accusation. Something can’t be a “bottom line” if it’s not even a line item in the first place.

      But to break out of your figure of speech (“bottom line”), when we speak of the bottom line LITERALLY, what was the amount her invoice showed due for the class she took? I believe it was zero dollars.

      How is a person credibly accused of being “cheap” if they somehow, allegedly, refuse to pay the ZERO DOLLARS due?

      The review, in case you are incapable of divining this simple truth (hint: powerful revelation follows!), is not about what SHE paid. It’s about the cost of the lessons in general for the public. Do you seriously think a sane review would say “Hey, I got in free! They’re really inexpensive! Everyone go! Yay!”

      Good grief.

    • Not really! She took advantage of a coupon opportunity, which is offered through many venues in order to try a new class. Fair enough. Facts are facts.
      Her blog is perfectly acceptable and truthful and she was tasteful in her comments, even complimenting the class. It’s still a country where you can speak freely about your experience over a blog, last time we checked. The classes are more expensive than the average. Why then? It’s a valid question.
      The business owner could have used the opportunity to explain the value of their services and why they charge more. It’s just a case of the business owner’s negative retaliatory, over-reacting to a question they didn’t like.

  • jacquie

    This is a case study about what a fledgling business should NOT do. I admire that you are taking the higher road here because I know you do not want a local entrepreneur to suffer because of ignorance or just plain stupidity. Truth be told, this is a perfect case study on how a business can completely destroy an opportunity to succeed in a social media environment.

  • kelly shaw

    good for you alana.you always were a leader and i think u are a good role model for the soft spoken.that is hilarious how the owner is accusing you of “stealing” a ballet class.is he that ignorant to relize that they put a promotional code on the internet to promote his new business.and im sure the beachwood police would tell him he was an embarrasment to the community.lol.this dude is obviously not hip to common sense.way to go girl!!!!!

  • Wow! I can’t believe that they treated you this way and threatened to sue! That is ridiculous! I will definitely not be going to the studio and will let anyone else who asks me about it know that they are idiots!

    Pam

  • I never heard of your blog until now–thanks Barre. I read your original review and thought it was fine/fair. Definitely not something to get their panties in a bunch over. I’m very surprised they reacted so strongly, and I’m sorry you experienced such a kerfuffle. Keep on blogging.

  • Eric

    Great. Now because of all the lost business, Barre has been forced to hike their prices. Now where do I go?? Thanks, Alana.

  • Lisa Zone

    Perhaps the owners of Barre should read this PD story by Janet Cho. (Disclosure: I’m quoted in it, but this isn’t about self-promotion; I think it’s a generally good resource for any company dealing with social media issues.)

    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/01/managing_social_media_complaints_before_they_explode_into_tweets_youtube_videos_and_facebook_shares.html

  • It’s funny, but if you go to Barre’s website and view their price list, it says, “Go on! Check out our pricing options & package deals. Remember, if it’s worth doing it right, it’s worth paying for!”

    I wonder if that quip was there before or after their pricing was put into question? Anyone know?

    Regardless, different workouts do different things for the body. Going to a different type class (yoga, boxing, zumba, whatever) that is less money doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong.

  • Great post – as always! After Barre blocked ME for simply agreeing with you, I knew that they were being crazy. What a shame too b/c they are super close to me and I would have loved to take classes there…if they weren’t so expensive.

  • John Heaney

    What are the odds that they EVER do the right thing? About the same as Lebron returning to CLE? The same as the Browns winning the Super Bowl this year? The same as Barre Cleveland being recognized by JD Powers for outstanding customer service?

    What’s interesting to watch now is how they’re trying to finesse their abhorrent behavior by removing critical posts, blocking disparaging Twitter users and posting only sycophantic responses to contrived Facebook posts. For social media to work, it has to be genuine and authentic. However, if you’re a genuine douchebag, perhaps you should avoid the social media platforms altogether.

  • I recently moved to the Cleveland area. As a national speaker on social media and its use in business, I appreciate such a nice example of social media misuse by the business owner. This company could certainly used some sage advice from someone who could have advised them better. It’s not if something goes wrong in social media – its when. Thanks Alana Munro – I look forward to meeting in the social ecosystem in Cleveland.
    Wendy
    my social presence Xeeme.com/wendysoucie

  • The law geek in me is so jazzed you made Popehat with this! In general, their reaction was ridiculous, over-the-top, and not even close to being a real legal threat. Good for you for sticking to your opinions and beliefs. Keep on blogging!

  • Ann Coticchia Jankey

    Alana, Lori just told me about this! This is hilarious, a matter of East vs West & prices?! Hell no, it’s a matter of Cleveland’s current economic status and something trendy coming to town and actually making a go of it! So proud of you:)

  • rasqual

    I wonder whether they’ve framed this brouhaha in their minds as being some big much ado about price. Needless to say, it stopped being about price the moment they accused you of theft and threatened you unless you removed your posts — managing their image with intimidation.

    But seriously, I wonder whether anyone who would do THAT, is capable of understanding what the issue has become. Incapable of understanding that something like this could come of his obtuse idiocy, there’s little reason to think he’s capable of thinking outside of his OWN early worries.

    The number of comments indicating incredulity that any business would be capable of such a gaffe (in this day and age) is telling. It’s the same kind of reaction you’d get if someone in a classy restaurant climbed on a table and began some auto-erotic act. Yes, it’s THAT WEIRD.

  • kelly shaw

    LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!WHO IS THAT DUDE SAYING”I GUESS U R GOING TO BE SUED NOW?”IS HE SERIOUS? THIS IS SERIOUSLY A JOKE.IT HAS TO BE.WHO WOULD WASTE THE TIME AND MONEY TO SUE A CUSTOMER FOR VOICING THEIR OPINION? FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING A FREE CLASS? MAYBE IF I WALK INTO BARRE CLEVELAND AND PISS ALL OVER THEIR BALLET INSTRUCTOR IT WILL GIVE THEM A LIGGIT LAW SUIT!!!!!!!!

  • Dear Barre Cleveland,

    In the coming days, if you happen to be researching “customer service” or “anger management”, take a moment and dig into “SEO” & “online reputation management”.

    If you can’t work that into your schedule, don’t worry.

    You will soon.

    Google “Barre Cleveland” + Alana’s website is on the first page.

    Search results from TheDawgsDish.com will continue to climb in ranking as more bloggers + websites reference this incident then link back to Alana’s 2 posts about Barre Cleveland. As the posts gain more links and Google views them with higher authority, there is a strong chance they’ll bubble up and appear above the fold. Above the fold is the first 3-5 results or whatever is seen without having to scroll down. Its a valuable and important first impression.

    Allow me to break this down for you since we all read at different levels 😉 …..when a customer Googles “Barre Cleveland” to find your address, location, rates, hours, policies, etc, they’ll now be exposed to this incident.

    Getting all huffy puffy, passive aggressive and publicly threatening baseless legal action does not help your case.

    The best and only course of action is to publicly offer Alana a genuine apology. And maybe free classes. Like forever. Maybe blame it on an overreactive, non-social media savvy husband with unauthorized access to the interwebs? We all make mistakes right?

    But hey what do I know?

  • Alana: I have nothing but total respect for you and everything you have gone through to stand up for your beliefs. Please keep us updated.

  • BillyBob

    Wow. I will share my thoughts, although I’m not sure how open this audience may be to hearing them, as most are just incensed by Alana’s experience and ready to jump on the bashing train with her. My take on the situation is that these are the facts:
    – BC made a free class coupon code, probably intended for a certain audience, however their amateur web skills/naive couponing practices caused a code leak and Alana took advantage of that, as many people would. End of the day the technical truth is that the code was put out there and the business will have to bear the expense.
    -I have not followed/do not know the back and forth regarding Alana’s complaint to BC regarding the prices, however what appears to have happened is that
    a. BC made some hasty and rash responses that were clearly in bad judgment and poor customer service, and they clearly don’t realize the impact their words could have online.
    b. Alana is angry and has decided to take revenge and attempt to do damage to the BC business by making the mistakes BC has made into a highly visible – as she as well as anyone understands the power social media can have.

    Pretty nasty business as far as I’m concerned, and an incredible waste of time. The act of sharing the experience to help others is just a thin veil covering the revengeful motive.

    At the end of the day, BC is overpriced, and they need to learn a thing or two about taking complaints on the chin in a retail environment…You don’t tell customers that your product is not for them, when you want to sell it. I have friends who teach and own barre studios in larger metropolitan markets and they charge $150/mo unlimited, compared to $225 at BC, which has a relatively inexperienced/freshly trained teacher. On the other hand, I’d seriously recommend some folks think of better ways to spend their days, and when they don’t like something, to simply take their business elsewhere.

  • Allie

    To anyone on this site who feels entitled, or even worse, enjoys a twisted sense of delight or self-satisfaction in someone’s personal misfortune I feel sorry for you. To post those court dockets on this blog is absolutely disgusting. No matter what you think of the Salwan’s, their business or their business practices posting these records is so pathetically low — action neither Yana or Mario would ever take , not even on someone who heaven forbid, didn’t like them. Yes, I know these records are public, so please don’t use that as an excuse for your own poor taste.

    Yana is an extraordinarily hard working, dedicated, positive and caring woman. Her passion, integrity and focus is truly admirable and I feel quite privileged to have her and Barre Cleveland in my life. No detail gets neglected, no face comes through the door without her not only greeting them by name, but taking such a sincere personal interest in their well being, comfort and satisfaction with her studio. The energy that the Salwan’s have manifested in their studio is not something that can be faked, nor can it be created by unkind, impure people. While at first I was apprehensive about the price , As an auto-pay client who has had to make cut backs in order to participate I am confident it is worth every penny not only in the way it has transformed my body but in the wonderful atmosphere and community that Barre provides.

    Yana, Barre Cleveland–YOU’RE awesome.

    -Alllie J. S.

    • annie

      Allie,

      I posted this response after seeing this blog for the first time yesterday!

      Anonymous
      April 26, 2013 at 7:51 am · Reply

      I stumbled upon this blog last night by accident and have to admit that I am speechless! The entire entity of this blog is nauseating!

      I have known the Salwans for years! They are two of the most hard working individuals and two of the sweetest people I know!

      Yana ventured into a new business last summer and surely there are growing pains involved in any new business. Having taken classes at Barre I can say that her facility is state of the art and offers many personal touches that no other studio will. For that alone a few extra dollars is worth the experience! I know for a fact they that value customer opinion and this is an invaluable tool to help them grow! Granted they may have had a bad day at the time you received your poor customer service that you are ranting on about….surely you have had one from time to time!?!?!?

      People have bad first experiences all the time or think things are overpriced. But what sickens me is that you personally went through such hurdles and lengths to pull up financial and personal information (granted that it’s public) to post on your blog to not only bash them as business owners but to defame their character for everyone to see! What right do you have to do this? I’m surprised that legal action hasn’t been taken: “Defamation of character is a charge based on the fact that your reputation and good name has value. If someone defaces or does something to hurt that reputation, you should be entitled to recover monetary damages as the damage to your reputation can have financial consequences for you.”

      Is this normal practice for you? You don’t like something so you go out of your way to hurt someone? Do you do this to your friends and family as well? For all the other people who hopped on your bandwagon, get a life! If you don’t like something, don’t do it again! If something is too expensive for you, don’t pay for it again! You clearly have too much time on your hands to spend so much negative energy on this!

      Clearly this has not hurt Barre’s business, thankfully! There are always a few bad seeds out there and some very negative people who can only find the “negative” in every situation. You should probably take down this blog…. would you want someone doing this to you? It’s beyond hurtful!!!!!

      Wishing Yana & Mario Salwan & Barre lots of love and success!

      -Anonymous

      • annie

        This is the response I received:

        admin
        April 26, 2013 at 7:58 am · Reply

        Dear ‘anonymous,’
        I never went out of my way to hurt these people & didn’t pull their financial information as you claim. People so angry by their behavior did so and posted it in the comments section on my blog.

        Read my posts again, I clearly state I was never out to hurt anyone. It’s called freedom of speech, ‘anonymous.’

        PS – Next time you post as ‘anonymous’ you might not want to use your email address that has your first & last name in it.

        Anonymous
        April 26, 2013 at 8:05 am · Reply

        You opened the door for everyone else and it is a very hurtful blog! I am not worried that my name is in my email address for you personally to see! Are you going to google my name now and start one against me for defending them?

    • Allie S

      THIS IS ALLIE, If I could delete my previous defense of barre cleveland I would. BARRE CLEVELAND is AWFUL. Yana is a fake , unkind person who without reason sends people (includin myself) emails terminating contracts telling people it’s to “ensure you don’t return”. She does this to paying, supportive (how much more supportive could I have been than that defense I wrote?), good people. It is humiliating and blindsiding. I’ve heard of dozens and dozens she’s done this to. For those who have received a reason, those reasons have varied from simply not like a friend of the client to Not allowing people with fitness backgrounds or people not appearing 15 minutes EARLY. To make matters worse, when these startled clients try to have an adult, compassionate discussion to gather some closur and make sense of the termination Yana puts in a fake smile says “no, and if you don’t leave we’ll call the police” while next to Mario and a sidekick high school girl!!! I only wish I was exaggerating or joking about any of above. Webmaster please delete my blog post in support above, I duped by jekyl and Hyde .

  • Janet on the West Side

    I just wanted to thank you for the “background” you have provided for me! I was sent a Groupon-like deal today for Barre Cleveland. Went to the website to check it out and got too frustrated trying to find their address so I simply googled them.

    I was not expecting to see a business that treats people the way you were treated. There is no excuse that they can publish at this point to justify what they did. Now I see why they are “giving away” classes. Note to anyone who actually purchases this same deal, SAVE YOUR RECEIPT!

    I grew up on the east side and still go back regularly for group exercise classes (helps even more that there is a Grandma on that side for kid duty!). I definitely will not be going to any classes at this place!

  • Mark Brown

    This is the same Mario that owns Buckeye painting…not suprised by this at all.www.buckeyepainting.com/

    Mark

  • Nice SEO indeed. I had heard about Barre workouts and was looking for one to try in the area. This blog post showed up as the third hit on google. After reading this, I will be sticking to Yoga and to the West side.

  • Anonymous

    I stumbled upon this blog last night by accident and have to admit that I am speechless! The entire entity of this blog is nauseating!

    I have known the Salwans for years! They are two of the most hard working individuals and two of the sweetest people I know!

    Yana ventured into a new business last summer and surely there are growing pains involved in any new business. Having taken classes at Barre I can say that her facility is state of the art and offers many personal touches that no other studio will. For that alone a few extra dollars is worth the experience! I know for a fact they that value customer opinion and this is an invaluable tool to help them grow! Granted they may have had a bad day at the time you received your poor customer service that you are ranting on about….surely you have had one from time to time!?!?!?

    People have bad first experiences all the time or think things are overpriced. But what sickens me is that you personally went through such hurdles and lengths to pull up financial and personal information (granted that it’s public) to post on your blog to not only bash them as business owners but to defame their character for everyone to see! What right do you have to do this? I’m surprised that legal action hasn’t been taken: “Defamation of character is a charge based on the fact that your reputation and good name has value. If someone defaces or does something to hurt that reputation, you should be entitled to recover monetary damages as the damage to your reputation can have financial consequences for you.”

    Is this normal practice for you? You don’t like something so you go out of your way to hurt someone? Do you do this to your friends and family as well? For all the other people who hopped on your bandwagon, get a life! If you don’t like something, don’t do it again! If something is too expensive for you, don’t pay for it again! You clearly have too much time on your hands to spend so much negative energy on this!

    Clearly this has not hurt Barre’s business, thankfully! There are always a few bad seeds out there and some very negative people who can only find the “negative” in every situation. You should probably take down this blog…. would you want someone doing this to you? It’s beyond hurtful!!!!!

    Wishing Yana & Mario Salwan & Barre lots of love and success!

    -Anonymous

    • admin

      Dear ‘anonymous,’
      I never went out of my way to hurt these people & didn’t pull their financial information as you claim. People so angry by their behavior did so and posted it in the comments section on my blog.

      Read my posts again, I clearly state I was never out to hurt anyone. It’s called freedom of speech, ‘anonymous.’

      PS – Next time you post as ‘anonymous’ you might not want to use your email address that has your first & last name in it.

  • Anonymous

    You opened the door for everyone else and it is a very hurtful blog! I am not worried that my name is in my email address for you personally to see! Are you going to google my name now and start one against me for defending them?

    • Anonymous

      No one is perfect! Again, they have growing pains as business owners and customer satisfaction is part of their growing pains…having said that not everyone will always be satisfied no matter what they do! That is just human nature! I’m not saying they handled things professionally and hopefully they have learned from this! If you knew them personally you would also know that the people you are portraying them to be couldn’t be father from the truth! You own this blog and everything that is posted you are responsible for and is a direct extension of you. We all have bad experiences throughout our lifetime but what’s the point in taking all the time an effort to be so negative. You say you don’t want to hurt them but you offered a platform for a lot of inappropriate personal information about them to be displayed which has absolutely no relation to your experience and no reason to be on here…..Again you are the owner of this blog and are responsible for what is posted.

  • Anonymously Kevolution

    Anonymous makes me want to launch my Yelp & Foursquare app and just start suing everyone.

    Everyone has a bad day yes, but that doesn’t excuse poor customer service. Keep fighting for the people Anonymous!

  • While searching for a Barre class in Cleveland, I was surprised to find this article at the top of the search results (closely followed by the web page for Barre Cleveland)… Wow! If the over priced classes alone didn’t turn me off (oh, and they DID), the way they treated you CERTAINLY made me re-think my curiosity about trying a class there! A year later and their bad behavior is still hurting them, and I hope they are feeling it! Excited to go to Pure Barre in Westlake one day this week 🙂
    Ditto the comments of other readers, Way to stick up for yourself, and thank you for your honesty! $25 for a 60 minute workout, I agree, is too much!

  • Johnny Utah

    I just want to say that at least Yana is a good lay. She was bouncing on my nuts last week and she’s good for that.

  • Kimba

    This IS NOT a business owner having ” a bad day”. This is an individual that has been fired multiple times from other gyms for her boorish behavior. To add to Yana’s already unstable behavior: While at Lifetime Fitness.. She behaved like a bully, kicking people out of her classes who didn’t do EXACTLY as they were told. Publicly picking on those who were over weight or had injuries that PHYSICALLY prevented them from fully participating in her classes. Yet, they still wanted to be active to the best of their abilities. There was actually a PETITION signed and submitted by the members of Lifetime, to their corporate offices, DEMANDING that Yana, ” the mean girl” resign. Corporate had no choice but to fire her. This is after her stints at JCC, Ballys, Urban Active, then Lifetime. I guess if you want to be a bitch, and have been fired from every major gym on the east side, well then, you have to pay to play and open up your own place!
    She subsequently has continued her bullying behavior, and has kicked out TEN women from her classes! She has said she doesn’t like their attitude, etc.
    What an egotistical, narcissistic, bitch.
    who runs a business like a sorority?? What a joke! I can’t believe people will pay to be so mistreated!
    What comes around goes around sister. And your days are numbered. “Past behavior dictates future behavior”….

  • Cathi Paterson

    Would love to get on the email list for Pure Barre.. Looking forward to taking classes in Rocky River soon! Thank you, Cath

  • You win! I just looked up Barre Cleveland and you came up towards the top of the Bing search. As a Lifestyle blog editor, designer and social media person from my perspective you handled things correctly. You have every right to tell the truth and relate your experience. I do it all the time, if something sucks I say so in a blog post. Barre Cleveland went way overboard and in this case social media didn’t help them it hurt them. I won’t be going there. 🙂 Well played.

  • Beth

    So funny to come across this blog. I just got kicked out of Yana’s class for telling the front desk person that I thought the day’s class was a bit boring. This after being in her class for two years!! She is totally nuts. I know of many others that have been “asked to leave” as well. I imagine she will soon run out of students at this rate!

  • susan

    i realize that this is old news but i wanted to share my “barre cleveland” experience. back in the early 2000’s i was very good friends with yana and mario. i was intrumental in yana’s being rehired at bally total fitness after she had been fired months earlier…i went all the way the the head of HR so this could happen. years later, things change and two months ago i bought a living social deal for barre clevleland. i was very excited to begin working about again (i had previously been a yoga teacher, fitness trainer, etc.) and to reconnect with my old friend yana. so….i receive a rather curt letter from her telling me that i was not welcome to work out at her studio because i had taught fitness classes in my past. she told me to contact living social for a refund. then her husband emailed me to explain that they can’t “risk” having anyone that has taught any type of fitness classes come work out in their studio because they might “steal” some of yana’s ideas. no room for compromise. i didn’t want to steal anything, just go for a good workout. really?? i was not only hurt, but very embarrassed by all of this. i feel like there are ex or current fitness teacher and yoga teachers there…how can you screen for all of that. my suggestion, put that up on your website to save everyone a huge headache.

    • WOW! I am deeply saddened by your story and wish I could turn that experience around. Susan, Please come to any of my classes. I welcome you and your past fitness experience. It’s not a competition, but a time for evolution and opening.
      I absolutely love and adore other Trainers who want to be in shape and be inspired to stay in shape for life. It’s a compliment when a Trainer shows up to work out with me. In fact, It’s absolutely a charm! To me, that is what it’s all about. I think of myself as constantly being influx and open to all people, male/female, any age who want to work out and stay flexible. I hope to be inspired by them, as well.
      There is plenty of room in this world for all types of talent and especially fitness/wellness industry has a huge capacity for opening social circles and uplifting human heart and health, by it’s mere being. Please come to my class and try it for FREE! I would value your feedback. http://www.bestbodypro.com Read my blog and come see me. -Peace

    • Beth

      She kicked my daughter out because she worked behind the desk at a yoga studio. When I confronted Yana about it, she said her “lawyers” required her to prevent other studio people from taking her class to preserve her style of classes. I said to Yana that nothing she does is original and she “stole” all the moves and ideas from studios in NY. With that, she cancelled my contract and kicked me out. I understand that she has everyone on “rockstar” status now which is a continual renewing monthly contract. Thank goodness for Barre3 at Legacy. The people are nice and the class is great!

  • Kelly

    Thank you for posting regarding this studio. I am seriously contemplating the Barr workout and this studio is pretty close to my home. After reading about the threatening action of the owner and his rather dubious past I will be staying away from this business.

  • […] first with some public relations oddness on Twitter, and then apparently doubled down with a threat to call the police if the blogger didn't take her posts down, on the bizarre theory that her posts suggested she didn't pay. Streisanditude ensued, and soon the […]

  • […] am now wholly convinced that I need to represent Barre Cleveland and Mario Salwan vs The Dawg Dish. I mean this screams Carreonization. Oh yes, I have a word […]

  • […] our failings and sue them to recuperate at least $200,000. If anyone writes a review critical of our prices or quality, we’ll sue them too for lost dinosaur profits. This will […]

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