office doorbell plays “Dixieland,” company forces clients to write online reviews, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My office doorbell plays “Dixieland”

I work in a 100+ person office in a downtown office building. In order to access our floor, visitors must either swipe in with a security card or ring a doorbell. The jingle that plays when a visitor rings the doorbell rotates, and it can be heard throughout half of the entire floor.

One of the songs that plays is “Dixieland” — just the jingle, not words. The office I work in is very white, and I am too. I have brought this concern up to HR, noting that the song contains a history that some may be sensitive to, and it could affect our image as one of the first things a visitor hears when they arrive at our floor. I didn’t use scary words like “racist” or “offensive.” They said they would look into it.

Fast forward to today — I just heard it again ringing through the office as clear as day. I am wondering if I should reapproach this issue, and how.

Just saying that it some people are sensitive to the song’s history isn’t likely to get your point across to people who aren’t already somewhat sensitive to the issue. You need to be clearer about what you’re saying.

For example: “The song is considered racist by a lot of people. Many college bands have banned performances on the song, and it’s been highly controversial in recent decades when it’s been played publicly. I assume we’ve been playing it without realizing that history, and that’s an oversight.”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My company forces clients to write online reviews before they can complete a transaction

The company I work for has always been very interested in Google and Yelp reviews, and I have always cheerfully asked my clients to rate us at the conclusion of each transaction (except 95% of the time they would say they would but wouldn’t). Recently, the company has made this a mandatory part of the sales process — as in, clients have to go on to one of the two websites and rate us before I can finish their transaction. The company has grudgingly allowed us five “refusals” a month, and those reasons have to be good ones — someone does not have a smart phone, or they are foreign/elderly and dont understand what I am asking them, or if they really push back on the request. When this happens, we have to fill in a box in the computer explaining why there was no rating. The reviews and the reasons for the refusals are taken into account in our quarterly reviews.

I have a tremendous problem with this, the least of which is that these people are rating us before they even have had a true experience with our company and the service we provide. I have said to my manager that it’s like going to a restaurant and before the waitress will send your order to the kitchen you have to write a review. But this company is massive, and is in all 50 states — it’s not like I work for a small mom-and-pop who might listen to reason. I am basically a very small cog in a very large machine.

The hilarious part is that they are always talking about “honesty” and “great service,” but how can I provide that when I am making someone do something I consider unethical? Is my only option to quit? I have awesome numbers and am doing great in every category but this, but I have only been here eight months and think it would look really bad on my resume to quit now.

The weirdest part is that clients are apparently okay with this. I can’t imagine finishing a transaction with a company that was requiring I do this before I was allowed to give them money. Who are your clients, and why do they find this acceptable?

Anyway, you and your coworkers could try pushing back, ideally basing your argument around (a) client pushback (which I have to assume you’re getting a lot of) and (b) the fact that the reviews can’t be that compelling since people can’t speak with any detail about the service they’re getting since they haven’t actually gotten it yet — and since they’re apparently under pressure to write these reviews while they’re still on the phone with you. (How detailed or nuanced a review could someone write in that situation? You must be getting a lot of one-sentence reviews.) You could also covertly leave your own reviews exposing the practice, which might make them reconsider.

But if your company is committed to this terrible idea, then yeah, you’d need to decide if you’re willing to tolerate it or not.

3. Shaking hands at panel interviews

I have a question about shaking hands with an interview panel. I work in education, and it is common practice to have interviews with panels of three to eight people. I have been on both sides of these interviews and have always found the introduction/handshake portion of these interviews awkward.

It goes like this: the candidate is met in the lobby by someone from human resources, and they shake hands. The candidate is then led into what is probably a cramped conference room and is introduced to the panel of teachers and principals. And the candidate awkwardly makes their way around the room to shake everyone’s hand, before being redirected to their seat, which was by the door they came in. Or they don’t shake hands, and instead awkwardly wave at each person as they are introduced.

How should candidates handle panel interviews in cramped rooms? Is it important to shake hands with each person?

Yeah, they should shake everyone’s hands. It might feel a little awkward, but doing it with confidence will look better than awkwardly waving or skipping it altogether. And no one is going to fault you for greeting each person individually, but they might fault you for not doing it.

4. Ghosted by HGTV

My husband and I applied for one of those HGTV home makeover shows. We were contacted immediately and had an hour-long phone call with one of the production company’s employees. Following her instructions, we submitted an audition video, which took a total of about two hours to film and edit. She also needed our realtor’s info, and he also had to submit a video.

The day after we submitted our video, she emailed to schedule a call. I confirmed, she confirmed back. Then she never called. I emailed her to say I didn’t hear from her and to let me know when she could talk that week. And that was it, she ghosted. This was about two weeks ago.

Like you advise for job interviews, I’ve tried to put it out of my head. But I can’t help thinking how rude. How mad should I be?

Eh. It’s extremely rude, particularly given the time you put in and asked your realtor to put in, but there’s not much point in being terribly mad about it. From what I understand, reality shows are notorious for just taking what they want from you and not giving much in return, and this behavior seems in keeping with that.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Job-searching when I have life-long weekly doctor’s appointments

I am 42 years old and a mother of four girls who are all in college. I am actively seeking employment but can’t get this “who would hire me with life-long weekly doctor appointments?” feeling out of my head. I had open heart surgery for mechanical aortic and mitral valve replacements. I am on high dose anticoagulation medicine for life due to blood clotting disorder and the high risk of mechanical valves being known to clot. Weekly maintenance in the coumadin clinic is a must, as my blood levels still remain sub-theraputic. What can I say to potential employers that will not make them run for the hills when considering me for employment?

In a lot of jobs, weekly medical appointments won’t be a big deal at all. Wait until you have an offer, and at that point mention that you have a weekly medical treatment that takes X hours and ask if that can be accommodated. If you have this flexibility, mention that you can schedule it first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, and say that you’re willing to make up the time on a different day. Chances are high that this will be fine.

{ 446 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, at the risk of sounding contrarian, the behavior described is somewhat rude but also so so normal for reality TV casting (and for certain game shows). As far as I can tell, none of the usual norms about follow-up or timely correspondence seem to apply.

    Nearly all reality TV casting requires a pretty significant amount of time on the applicant’s part—answering long questionnaires/surveys, assembling an audition tape, conducting tons of mini-interviews (with the same questions!) with all sorts of people who seem to have no input in casting. I have a colleague who’s made it to the third and penultimate rounds of casting for a reality show he’s dreamed of being on and has applied for 8 years, straight. I think saying he’s spent 150+ hours on just the first two rounds is a conservative estimate. My aunt was on HGTV, and it took about 2 years. A college friend was recently on Jeopardy!… after 10 years of auditioning. They have all been ghosted at some point in the process. I’m sorry—I think this is just how this works :(

    1. Sami*

      Jeopardy — 10 years of auditioning? Oh geez. I’ve taken (and passed, I think) four times and haven’t even been called after that. :-(

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        He made it to the second-to-last stage twice, and he was fantastic when he finally made it on the show! But he lost in the final round (after leading the entire time), which made my heart break a little bit for him. I think it was a bucket list thing, and he was happy to have just made it on.

      2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        I just took the online test for the 5th time. I’ve made it to the in-person auditions the previous 4 times but have yet to get the call. Maybe the 5th time will be the charm?

      3. Cath in Canada*

        A friend of mine absolutely loathes Alex Trebek – specifically, the somewhat smug way he says “ooh, no, actually, the answer is [whatever]”. She tries to get on the show every single year just so she can call him out on it!

    2. #WearAllTheHats*

      My husband took the Jeopardy test for 10 years. His roommate was on when Ken Jennings was on. Finally after three in-person interviews, he made the show. There is a very long list of things you can and cannot do.

      Also we were asked by a production company to be on a particular show 1 decade ago where people “hunt” for houses… The contracts was 100% in the production company’s favor. PS: You already have to have a house selected, but you can’t move into it. It said all dealings were at the leisure and convenience of the producers, including communications. No, you get zero remuneration and 15-22 minutes of fame. The particular show is 100% in their favor… and 100% fake.

      I *also* work with someone who does something artistic/media related to the Dream Homes and well… Dream Homes are sometimes nightmares.

      Moral of the story: BEWARE GREENER GRASS when it comes to anything entertainment-related.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        It’s not true that you get zero remuneration- at least now that the show is so big. The total is something like $300 for 3 long days of shooting. ;)

        And yet, they find people to fill over a 100 episodes a year, just of the main show- then the spin offs! Apparently they don’t have to return calls or pay much or any of that. Those 22 minutes of fame are enough for a lot of people.

        The truth about the house having already been selected has been pretty widely known for at least 2 years now. I watch and play a game of figuring out which one they bought- if only one is empty, that’s the house.

        1. Gov Worker*

          I play that game too, figure out which property they already bought, and I have got pretty good at it. At least one of the properties usually isn’t even for sale! Hint: it’s typically the one crammed with stuff that doesn’t look like anyone is going anywhere anytime soon.

          Don’t take any of it personally. It’s all a game.

        2. #WearAllTheHats*

          Eleven years ago when they sent us the contract it was $0. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch it from time to time. LOL

          And the Jeopardy at 2nd place ended up costing us more than we won (filing CA state taxes, woo hoo!) but it was a major Bucket List item for the hubs, so that part is all good.

      2. OP #4*

        Oh yes, I’m aware of the fakeness. There was recently a law suit that blew the lid off Love It or List It too. I live for that sh1t. My husband wanted to do it and I was happy to indulge him, knowing that we’d get very little out of it but it would help us decorate our house faster.

        1. Havarti*

          Honestly, you probably dodged a bullet. I’ve heard horror stories about makeover shows where the stuff is so badly done due to the time constraint that things fall apart – like tiles start falling off the walls, etc. If you’re talking about actual construction anyway. If it’s just getting some couches and vases, probably less problematic.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            That was a huge issue with Trading Spaces, which is coming back….

            I know on HGTV Star, they made a big deal about sending a crew back to the houses the contestants were working on, to fix/complete the job. And then moved to the challenges a lot of times taking place in a white room, instead of a house they’d have to have fixed.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yeah, my Aunt had her home remodeled, and it was so poorly done that it cost thousands of dollars to “fix” the remodel (and revert a pretty good chunk of it to what it had been before). I think this is a bullet dodged, as well.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          The Love It or List It complaint sounded pretty petty to me, though. They complained more about the fact that so much went toward the decorations and that they didn’t get exactly what they wanted, and didn’t seem to prove *actual* damages- just not exactly what they wanted. (I”m like, have you ever watched the show?)

          But I did notice that on the most recent season- and it’s bled over into other shows too, like the Lottery winner one- they are now making it more obvious that David isn’t the one- or at least the only one- finding the houses he shows, but is working with a local Realtor. Which again, should be pretty obvious that the Canadian isn’t licensed in every different state they go to, now that they’ve moved the show out of just Toronto, but…

          They can’t really win, though. People criticize Love It or List It because so much of the budget goes to the decorating, and then they turn around and complain that on Fixer Upper, the budget goes for the actual renovation, so the decorations are just for staging, and the homeowners then have to pay extra to keep them.

          I’m sorry you were disappointed, but that’s so typical in casting. And construction. And Real Estate. Combine all three, and it’s probably a miracle when you’re not ghosted!

          1. Havarti*

            Love It or List It annoys me because:
            A.) The people complaining about lack of storage don’t seem to own hangers. Honestly, sometimes they just need someone to de-clutter and organize their house, not buy a whole new house.
            B.) It’s ALWAYS a load-bearing wall. ;)

            1. Anna*

              Ha! So true. And it never goes well. I know you can’t plan for everything, but do they specifically look for houses they know will be filled with squirrel dens and asbestos?

          2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Anyone who has watched more than 2 episodes of Love It Or List It knows that a) they always find some problem that makes it impossible for them to actually do the remodel as requested (“Oh, no, the subfloor is rotting so instead of adding a half-bath, we have to repair that, but we’ll still buy a $5,000 sink instead of a $500 one that looks just as nice.”) and b) the house they find is always above the stated price range (“Sorry, but there are NO HOUSES out there with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths for under $2 million).

            Drives me crazy.

            1. JeanB in NC*

              I can’t watch Love it or List It. It’s so formulaic that you can basically set your watch by the problems.

              1. OhBehave*

                My husband can’t stand it because the hosts bicker all the time. Not to mention how surprised she is by the major issues they uncover! Duh

                1. Mabel*

                  And the out of proportion outrage on the part of the homeowners when things don’t go according to plan.

          3. OP #4*

            I thought the heart of it was that the production company outsourced the renovation for really cheap and then pocketed the rest of the reno budget.

        3. Charisma*

          Ooof… Mr. Charisma used to work in Reality Television when we were both young and desperate for any job in our fields out of college. (He got out the second he could, the jobs are non-union, the pay is sh*t, and the hours are horrid unless you are one of the producers/stars). In fact the show he was on ended up almost getting into serious legal trouble because it wasn’t paying employment taxes for any of, it’s employees, paying them all minimum wage, not paying overtime, etc, etc. They “corrected” the issue by slightly bumping everyone’s pay and making everyone become a contractor and paying some fines, but as far as I know none of the “contractors” were compensated for back wages for their overtime which really makes me angry… (And to this day he refuses to include the show on his resume.)

          All this to say, this is how they treat their employees. And I’ve heard horror stories from other production companies that treatment isn’t that different. So how they are treating you (and will continue to treat you if/when you get “chosen”) won’t exactly improve. YOU will receive a contract that is approximately 50 pages long (no joke, I’ve seen them). You are not a “contestant” YOU will be a *product* that they are selling. They are looking at their roster of applicants like a casting call. They are looking at people and seeing how relevant they are and will be to their viewing audience. Are you an inter-racial couple? Are you gay, poly, an uncommon religion? Does your back-story provide an extra level of interest? Do they want to play it safe this week with safe looking “All American” couples? Or do they want to spice it up? That is what they are looking for because even though they may not say one word about it during the show, they are still hoping that stuff catches the viewer’s attention and draws people in.

          I would think really long and hard about whether or not you want to do this and how you will be treated if you do.

          1. Mabel*

            In one of my first jobs in “corporate America,” the company never deducted or paid taxes for me. I only found out when I was getting ready to file my tax return the following year. Thank goodness I had started with them in October. Otherwise, I would have had to pay a year’s worth of income tax myself. I called the IRS, and they said the company was supposed to deduct payroll taxes, but it was my responsibility to make sure it was getting done (and the company was not going to be penalized or fined). Now I check my pay stubs!

    3. Sazerac*

      I had a pretty good experience with my reality show appearance! They contacted me, and I basically just had to do a phone interview and film a 2-minute video. They got back in touch with me two weeks later to schedule my appearance on the show, which was two months later. I’m sorry so many people have had such a bad time!

      1. Gov Worker*

        Was this one of the HGTV shows? HGTV, to it’s credit, does like to show diversity. It you were in a harder to cast category, you may have been fast-tracked.

    4. OP #4*

      Omg can you imagine the process for the Bachelorette/Bachelor? Nightmare, which explains why they have such nightmare people (I went there!)

      Yeah, thanks for the perspective. I was disappointed at first but it’s honestly a lot less stress not to deal with it.

      1. Charisma*

        I know someone who almost made it on that show! (completely outside of my husband’s stint in the industry) And she is actually one of the worst people I know! We went to high school together and I found out through a friend of a friend that she was going to be on the Bachelor. But alas she failed the last casting round. However when I heard she was “recruited” (according to her, she’s a known compulsive liar) and got so far in the process my first thought was “Matilda*?, yeah, that makes perfect sense!” I think I would have actually watched if she made it on the show just for the drinking game potential :)

        *Name changed to protect the eternally vapid.

      2. Sara*

        My nephew is currently in the top 50 for The Bachlorette. They choose 25. We are all rooting for him – but maybe we shouldn’t be – he is truly a nice young man.

    5. DCGirl*

      I made it on Jeopardy! on my first try, but that was years ago (1995). One of the best experiences of my life.

      But, seriously, I used to go PR for nonprofits. I can’t count the number of times that a TV station or a newspaper told me they’d be sending a reporter to an event and no one showed up. It’s just part of the business, and you can’t take it personally.

      1. Karen D*

        WOW. This is something I’ve always wanted to do! I’d love to hear more – have you ever written anything about your Jeopardy experience?

        1. Another Lauren*

          I feel like there are probably a lot of us in the AAM community who were on Jeopardy. Maybe a topic for the weekend open thread?

          1. many bells down*

            I auditioned for the Teen Tournament in the late 80’s but I didn’t make it past the screen test. Out of probably 100 kids in my audition group, they screen-tested … 5. It was intense.

          2. PlainJane*

            I’m part of the club! Taped in 2000 and aired in 2001. Fun fact: my episode (yes, singular – I lost. Cue the Weird Al lyrics.) taped the night GW Bush was declared the winner of the 2000 election. During the commercial breaks Alex T. was doing some pretty funny riffs on the election, including a bit about whether the murder rate would go up if Bush won (b/c he wanted to repeal the estate tax). It was hilarious.

    6. Printer's Devil*

      Never. Ever. Give up faith on trying out for Jeopardy!

      This is not just rah-rah cheerleading. I was a contestant, and while my wait wasn’t very long, one of the men I played against had been auditioning since Art Fleming was the host. He finally got on 37 years after his first test (and won! we were all so happy for him!)

      But it is a long, multi-stage process, and at least for Jeopardy! you have to pay your own travel to California, as well as your hotel. My tape dates were also scattered, which meant taking personal time at short notice and having to keep secrets for a while. If you don’t get the in-person audition, you’ll never truly know how you did on the test; if you don’t get a callback after the in-person audition, you’ll never know if you were actually in the pool.

      1. PlainJane*

        I must have gotten lucky. Auditioned once, got the call a week or so later. I heard that it’s easier to get on if you’re not from Southern California. They really like to have people from different parts of the country on the show. Not sure if that’s still true though. I auditioned in 2000.

  2. Fafaflunkie*

    #2: I would seriously have a chat with your upper management as to how this tactic would seriously be a detrement to your company’s sales. Seriously, if I were required to post a review on Yelp or Google before completing a transaction, I would immediately be looking for the cancel button. If I can’t find it, I would be on the phone with my bank to make sure I would not be charged anything from your company. Seriously, to demand a customer give a 5-star review to your business before the transacion is complete? SMH on this one.

    1. Fafaflunkie*

      Please forgive me for the overuse of the word “seriously.” Because, I’m seriously outraged over how OP#2 has to deal with this chicanery.

      1. LS*

        I seriously agree with you ;)

        But seriously, unless these are the only suppliers of whatever the thing is, I would take my business elsewhere.

        1. nonegiven*

          1. I’d give the lowest rating possible and ream them for making me do this. 2. That’s if they are the only supplier of something i can’t do without and threatening to do #1 didn’t get me out of doing it.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I don’t understand how they’re not getting either a cascade of people refusing to complete the transaction or a cascade of one-star reviews out of this. I would actually probably do both — refuse to complete the transaction at all and then leave them a very negative Yelp review about my experience once I got home!

      1. Fafaflunkie*

        Agree 100% on that one. My review will be “if only (insert site here) allowed zero star reviews” in the title, and the explanation in the comment below.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          My review would be “This company tries to force you to leave reviews.”

          1. Violet*

            +1! For companies that try repeatedly to insist I review them, I often leave reviews like “The initial service I received from Wakeen was excellent, but Teapots Inc was so insistent I leave them a review to tell you that they have “EEEEEEEEXCELLENT service” that I found working with them to be highly irritating and will not do so in the future. I do not recommend this company.”

            1. Blue*

              Yeah, if the salesperson (like OP) was nice about it, I would be sure to give them a shout out to try to mitigate the damage to them, but that’s assuming I didn’t cancel the order entirely, which is more likely…

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m irritated enough by businesses that prompt me after I buy stuff. I can’t imagine doing it before.

        It also means the reviews could be fake, as you might not end up completing a transaction.

        1. Allison*

          I hate that so much! I hate the emails that ask me how everything went before I even get my stuff, or right after it’s delivered. It’s barely out of the box! If I have something to say about it, I’ll letcha know.

          You know how you can incentivize me to write a review? Give me a chance to be entered in a sweepstakes if I write one. Offer my 10% off my next purchase, or reward points. Or make products I like enough to rave about, or have a brand I feel loyal enough to that I want to help other customers get a sense of what will work for them and what won’t. Just going “please review our stuff” sounds like a Youtube personality going “don’t forget to like and subscribe!”

          1. Liz2*

            My old spa used to send “thank you, please review” auto emails- but they were timed to be sent at the time of the appointment. So I’d sometimes get the reminder of what a great spa day I had before I even saw anyone! So many places know they need “online presence” but do not consider the actual user experience.

          2. Violet*

            I absolutely agree about offering an incentive. It’s highly presumptuous for companies to expect customers to spend time reviewing every single item or service. Offer something in return and leave it up to the customer to decide if it is worth their time. If customers aren’t leaving you enough reviews, you’re not offering them anything good enough. If you’re not willing to offer anything, don’t expect so many reviews.

          3. tigerStripes*

            Also, make the review shorter and give the customer plenty of space to say what they want to say.

          4. Mabel*

            Exactly! I just submitted a review for a ’20s era dress that I bought online because other people’s reviews helped me to order the right size. I wanted to pay that back by adding even more details so the next person can get the right size the first time.

            I also submitted an Etsy review recently – even though it was after a couple of “please review me” emails – because I really liked the items they sent me.

          5. Candi*

            Target enters you into a survey if you review, and you do the review in your time, with a transaction number off the receipt.

            Amazon’s “please review” emails always show up in my box at least two days after the final delivery date.

            It’s not that hard.

            Incidentally, in the US, there’s a federal law about how one company can’t have a monopoly on a service or product; Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, I think. (National monopolies; what Walmart, Comcast, and some utilities do on the local scale isn’t covered.) So there will be someone else who provides what the LW’s company does (even if the competitor is tiny) and if the price isn’t too ridiculously different, the competitor will be blessing LW’s company all the way to the bank.

      3. MuseumChick*

        I was thinking the same thing! My review would be “One star because the company forces you to write a review before you see the final product.”

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I would probably give a three-star review and write “Company requires review before completion of sale” if I really wanted the product and was too lazy to halt the process and start over. Then if the clerk hassled me over the review before completing the sale, I’d hang up and start my search for another provider. And I’d be freaking irritated.

      5. nnn*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’d be cancelling my transaction if workable, and leaving a one-star review saying “This company won’t complete the transaction unless you leave them a yelp review.”

        1. Newby*

          I would do the same unless I really didn’t have another option. If I needed to work with this company, I would leave a 4 star review and then go back later and say that was coerced and change it to a 1.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I would probably cancel my purchase also. And yeah, it would be enough to make me write a review, which I almost never do. Lose the sale, get the review anyway. Whatta deal.

        3. PlainJane*

          And report them to Yelp. I suspect they’d take a dim view of this behavior, since coerced reviews before you get the product are unlikely to be accurate.

      6. Justanotherthought*


        Exactly what I would do. Sorry to say exactly the same thing, but want to emphasize just how many people would do this.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’ll be #100 or so. I would cancel the transaction. I might be so irritated I would figure out how to leave a 1 star review to boot.

          (Like Ramona upthread, I really hate getting follow-up emails to leave reviews. Making it an integral part of the sales process means you never see me again.)

          What are they selling, unicorns?

          1. Hillia*

            Just adding my voice. I would leave a one star review and cancel the transaction.

      7. Hey Nonnie*

        Right…. if I REALLY needed whatever I was buying, and it was too much of a hassle to just walk out on the transaction, I’d leave a 1-star, one-line review: “Was just told I couldn’t buy anything without leaving a review here, which is super shady and guarantees I’ll never shop here again.”

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      As you noted, if I were a customer and OP#2’s employer is not the only seller, I’d likely opt out of purchasing altogether. This practice seems super sketchy and dishonest, and it would make me less likely to trust the seller’s integrity as a merchant.

      1. AJHall*

        It would actually be illegal in the UK under the Consumer Protection Regulations (our Competition and Markets authority has just done a big campaign against fake reviews and manipulation of review sites.) I’d go either the one-star review route or shop elsewhere, that’s for sure.

    4. Artemesia*

      Someone who pulled this crap on me would be getting a one star review unless I were life and death dependent on the service and had no other options. And I’d be writing Yelp and the other review agencies to complain about the pressure.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      It can also affect your rating on Yelp. From the Yelp support website:

      You may be hurting your Yelp rating by proactively asking your customers for reviews.

      Yelp’s recommendation software is designed to highlight reviews from people inspired to share their experiences with the community. Most businesses only target happy customers when asking for reviews which leads to biased ratings, so the recommendation software actively tries to identify and not recommend reviews prompted or encouraged by the business.

      Don’t ask customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.
      Don’t ask your staff to compete to collect reviews.

      Yelp has a Consumer Alerts program to let people know about businesses that engage in this sort of activity.

      Search for “Yelp support don’t ask for reviews” for the whole page.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Although maybe they read that, completely misunderstood and decided this would be a good way to avoid only targeting happy customers. By annoying the hell out of them.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Yeah. If they have no happy customers, at all, they can’t target them. Problem solved!

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        I was about to say something like this – I’m sure Yelp and Google Reviews would be very interested in knowing about a large national company that was deliberately trying to game the system by forcing reviews.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          I worked part time at a rinky-dink company and they got in trouble with Yelp because they had a reward program for leaving reviews. If someone left a review – good or bad – on Yelp and sent the link to the manager, they would get a gift card.
          Of course Yelp knows that people won’t leave bad reviews and say “Hey, Store Manager, I just left this awful review. Can I have my gift card?”
          The fall out was tough. Yelp removed all the positive reviews and only the bad reviews were left.
          The OP’s company is taking a huge risk. Someone will report them and all their reviews will be gone.

      3. eplawyer*

        #2 when telling your bosses why this is a bad idea, let them know it might violate the review sites only policies. Which could have negative consequences for your listing.

      4. Lauren*

        Exactly – Google and Yelp are going to catch on that your sales are coming from your location (if your clients are writing reviews while in line and worse if they are using your wifi). ALL of those reviews will disappear based on this filter, so why lose money on sales AND lose vast majority of those reviews after a few days.

    6. The IT Manager*

      I don’t understand how they aren’t getting a ton of 1 star reviews. That would be my response to such a demand. I’d also lie and say I’d done it since I presume the seller can’t monitor yelp and google reviews as the customer completes it.

    7. Edith*

      Even if people played along and left good reviews this tactic is likely to backfire on them. Far more people don’t write Yelp reviews than those that do, so a good percentage of clients would have to register to write a review. If I looked at a company on Yelp and saw that an abnormally high number of reviews were left by people who have only ever written this one review I would assume the company had faked a lot of its reviews. I would drive me to one of their competitors.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is a constant hazard on Trip Advisor where you see one post wonders with PR language about vendors. I always write those off — not just the review but the vendor that appears to push it.

    8. seejay*

      Yep, I’d be cancelling my order toot de sweet and then leaving a bad review. I wouldn’t care how big the company is, you don’t force me into something I don’t want to do or I’ll dig my heels in just on principle.

    9. Marzipan*

      Chalk me up as someone else who would opt not to proceed with the transaction; or if the company was absolutely the only place I could go for whatever it was, is leave a one-star review on principle.

    10. Bagpuss*

      I agree. I would abandon my transaction if faced with this requirement, and if that were not practical, I’d be leaving a review which explicitly stated that I have been required to do so in order to complete my transaction, and giving the lowest possible rating as a result.

      Are you allowed to encourage customers to raise it with management?

      I don’t think you have to quit your job over this, but if you are allowed to, I would be saying to customers ‘I have to ask you to leave a review on google or yelp’ – i.e. make it clear that this is the company’s script, not yours.

    11. LadyL*

      YUP. I don’t use review services, and I have no interest in starting one. If I was told I needed to create a Yelp account and leave a review before I could purchase something I would absolutely refuse. As far as I’m concerned, after I’ve given you my money I owe you nothing. It is not my job to help you grow your business. Leaving a useful review requires work, that’s free labor from me to help you advertise. I will often tell people in my life about products/companies that I like, but I’m not spending my time pretending to be an amateur consumer reports. Reading the letter made me seethe because of how much I hate this. Whatever the item is, I don’t need it that badly. Good luck!

      OP #2, you can’t be the only one who feels frustrated, you must have tons of colleagues and customers who aren’t happy with this. Banding together sounds like a great idea.

    12. Jessesgirl72*

      I would either cancel the transaction, or I would leave the review. And then edit it later. ;) Yelp and Google are really easy to edit. (Just did it over the weekend) The review, either way, would reflect that you have to leave the review before they will complete the transaction.

    13. Lora*

      Adding another voice to the chorus. My reply would be “OK, have a nice day!” followed by a 1-star “here is a list of their competitors, use them instead” review.

    14. Abby*

      I agree. I never complete those optional surveys. And I would just stop the transaction

    15. MCMonkeyBean*

      I also feel like there’s a good chance I would submit the review, finish the transaction, leave, and then update the review to a lower rating complaining that they made me leave a positive review.

    16. Snargulfuss*

      I’m not sure what kind of business this is, but I’m sure that if I had another choice of company from which to purchase the good or service, I would start going there. It’s bad enough to be asked if I want to apply for a Target RED card, every.single.time I go to Target.

    17. Bess*

      I am super curious about the product this company offers, and how this hasn’t blown up in their faces yet. I’d either go somewhere else or leave a negative review.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      I can’t wrap my mind around this. So the company ends up with let’s say 100,000 reviews on Yelp this week.

      How does this help the company?
      How many people will read those reviews?
      Of the people who read the reviews, how many people will believe what they are reading?
      The company cannot control what people post, it’s not unreasonable to assume that people will say the company is demanding a review. What will the company do then?
      Do they realize that you are basically telling the customer, “We are holding your purchase hostage until you say something nice about us”?
      Will Yelp shut down the reviews for your company?

      Is anyone in your company in charge of overseeing the company’s internet reputation?

    19. Vancouver*

      If your organization is seriously unwilling to change and it bothers you, I’d consider sending a message to Yelp or Google Reviews, or something similar (I mean, try to get your company to change first, but if that’s not an option and it bothers you enough that your considering quitting……) I had a similar experience as a customer with a company making me do a Trip Advisor review to get the service I’d paid for. I did the review, five dots and all, then contacted Trip Advisor the next day to let them know. My review was removed and they apparently contacted the company to explain how Not Allowed that was.

      In the meantime, if you like your job other than this, come up with a standard line for yourself to explain this to clients. “This is a new, national, company policy, required for everyone.” If there’s a way for you to mention that you can’t see/don’t care what they write, soloing as they write it, that might be interesting too? Good luck!

  3. Mike C.*

    #2 Just report your enployer to the various review companies on your own time with a throw away email account. Tell them what you’ve told us here and the rest should take care of itself.

    1. Zip Silver*

      Pretty much this. They have no tolerance for these sorts of things. Although if there’s been a sudden uptick in reviews for this national company because every transaction must be reviewed, then Yelp and Google may be looking into the possibility of fraudulent reviews anyway. I know that TripAdvisor will do it.

    2. NotTheSecretary*

      Depending on where OP is in the hierarchy of the company, it’s very likely that no one up above will listen. There were a number of places I worked with odious policies that were universally hated by customers and reported as such by the cashiers and it definitely never took care of itself.

    3. Sarah*

      I agree, this seems like the simplest solution and will certainly get the problem solved — I am 100% sure Yelp will not go for those sort of shenanigans.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you do this, protect your IP address.

      A Friend got caught by their IP address. Friend was fired on the spot. What Friend was doing was different from what we are talking about here. But the company actually bothered to look at the IP addresses to find my Friend.

      If you decide to get friends to help you, watch their geographic location. Not saying be paranoid, you can do something but think it through carefully.

      1. Zombii*

        How did the company get the IP address of the person who reported them? Are Google and Yelp (or actual regulating agencies) in the habit of handing out IP addresses from the reports to the companies that were reported? Or does the IP address show somewhere on the site attached to the reviews? Either of those seem… let’s go with “problematic.”

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, my eyes bugged out a little.

    Is it possible that your coworkers have never really thought about the song or its lyrics (or may not be aware of how racist it is)? I originally wanted to ask if you’re in the South, but then realized it might be unfair to assume that folks in the South know the meaning and context of “Dixieland” any better/worse than the rest of the country.

    I think you’re going to have to be a little more direct about why it’s offensive, and why a benign neglect approach is adverse to the employer’s business interests. You noted the potential impact on visitors—I imagine it would also be a PR nightmare, especially if those visitors include clients, industry peers, the press, etc. At its most benign, it’s extremely tone-deaf (no pun intended). Can you follow up by asking HR what the status is of their “look into it”?

    1. Scotty Smalls*

      I am aware that Dixieland is a racist song (only because of the Medgar Evers movie where the lawyer sings it to his kid and becomes slowly horrified) but if you asked me if I could pick it out in a lineup of doorbell songs I wouldn’t. Maybe that’s what’s happening here? They don’t even realize which song is the problem much less why. Especially, since OP said some people could be sensitive, but didn’t mention the racist connotation. But I’m 1st generation Mexican American in California, so take that into account.

      (Sidenote: I can identify Camptown Ladies and why it’s racist.)

      1. Mookie*

        Is Camptown Ladies an alternative title to Camptown Races?

        The office I work in is very white, and I am too.

        I really liked this line, LW1.

      2. Zip Silver*

        I reckon it’s the same part of the song that’s on the car horn on the Dukes of Hazzard. I doubt too many people (who aren’t Southern) would be able to pick it out as being Dixie. I personally like the song (because South), but the DoH horn has always gotten on my nerves.

        1. Mookie*

          On the contrary, I think black Americans in particular would recognize it anywhere, given its history up to the present day and how and where it is used.

          1. Karen D*

            Right. The universe of people you need to be worried about are the people who are sensitized to the symbolism involved. They are going to pick up on it, and be offended (or shamed) by its connotations. And it doesn’t matter what the intent of the business is in using that particular song/flag/whatever … they can ‘t control the reaction a particular trigger prompts.

            People will say “Oh, you can’t be so oversensitive and worry about every little thing,” and for many things that’s true – for example, my friend gets unhappy every time she hears a particular pop song from the 1970s (“Seasons in the Sun,” for what it’s worth) because it takes her back to losing her dad at a very young age.

            But here, we’re talking about a trigger that is widely known to evoke strong reactions in a substantial number of people. Maybe not a majority, but …. enough. Some people will hear it and be offended. Others will hear it and think it validates their own views that are, for the most part, outside society’s commonly held values.

            And it’s utterly unnecessary to the business! So at best, it does nothing and for a substantial portion of the customer base it does harm. That to me says that it needs to go.

      3. it_guy*

        Buffalo gals and the Yellow rose of Texas are both incredibly racist if you’ve ever heard the original lyrics and know the history…..

      4. kittymommy*

        Is there a chance that since it’s one of a few jingles that there isn’t an actual way to remove it from the “playlist”? Personally, I’d get rid of the whole thing on general as I would find it annoying

      1. seejay*

        Since I’m not from the South, nor even American, I don’t know the song nor the history or the lyrics, and I just read those and I think my eyebrows just shot off my head. O_O

        1. Hurricane Wakeen*

          I just went down the Wikipedia rabbithole and found out a bunch of songs we sang in my American grade school music classes were actually incredibly racist minstrel songs. I’ll never be able to sing “Oh, Susannah” again.

          1. seejay*

            I know some of the old southern songs due to watching cartoons of questionable history (either when I was young or when I got older and started exploring the banned cartoon history for expanding my education and knowledge reasons) but Dixieland was one that slipped by me.

            I definitely wouldn’t have picked up the song if it was just a jingle without lyrics, that’s for sure.

          2. LabTech*

            This all surprised me. I’m usually pretty knowledgeable about race issues, but had no idea about this song … or even Dixie Land, but don’t actually know the words. I even remember singing “Oh Susannah” in school too (for context, this was in the 90’s in a lilly white neighborhood where I was almost always the only PoC in class).

            I’m glad this question came up today, or I might have been none the wiser.

            1. IT geek*


              My first thought was the OP was a little bit too sensitive. Dixie isn’t racist! And then I started reading some history on it. I had no idea. I’m a white Yankee born just after the civil rights movement who thought it was a catchy tune. I think of the Dukes of Hazard when I think of Dixie.

              Guess I can go home, because I’ve learned the new thing for today. :)

              1. seejay*

                I had a book when I was a kid that was a collection of children’s ghost stories that I remembered quite fondly and it was stolen when I loaned it to a teacher in grade school. When I was an adult in my mid-20s, I hunted it down again, paying about $30 for a used battered copy of it.

                Well, I was really gobsmacked when I read through it again and actually read the footnotes in the back and discovered many were actually Southern tales passed down through the slaves and plantations and many had originated in Africa. When I was younger, I’d never read through the back of the book, but I always wondered why there were so many pictures that were caricatures of black people.

                I still have the book but now instead of seeing it as a book of children’s ghost stories, I view it as a folklore book of historical tales passed down through the south and from around the world.

                There’s a lot of things we miss just by privilege of being white. I’m glad I learned about Dixieland so I can file it away under “things I learned today” as well.

                1. Somniloquist*

                  Are you talking about brer rabbit here? Just curious. I don’t remember those being ghost stories, but that describes those stories as well.

                2. fposte*

                  Though there are collections of ghost stories that fit that description, too–James Haskins compiled a few, though I don’t think I’d consider the art to be caricatures.

                3. seejay*

                  Nope, the book was called “The Thing At The Foot of the Bed (and Other Scary Tales)”. I don’t have it at my house currently, I left it at my mom’s when I moved away but it’s on my list to dig up and bring back with me since I’ve referenced it a lot over the past few years. I think I got it in grade 1 at a book fair (so 1979-1980 or so) and I lost it ~1985 when I loaned it to a teacher and he never returned it. It took about a year to find a copy for an ok price in the early 2000s.

          3. iseeshiny*

            My first introduction to the idea of a minstrel show was in the little house on the prairie book series in second grade, where Laura’s father with a group of other townspeople put on blackface and performed for the town. It was one of those things I look back on now, like what. What. How did I not realize how insanely racist that was when I was reading it.

            1. Sara M*

              At the time (when I was 8) I thought it was like honoring black culture. Pa put on blackface as part of a costume to show what great music black people had at the time. Right? :)

              So embarrassing in retrospect.

              1. Sara M*

                (And I totally knew about slavery and that it was Really Awful, but it sure was a good thing we fixed all that in 1865 and hadn’t had any trouble since! Yay America!)


      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Thanks for that, I’m British and not familiar with the song, now I understand!

      3. Robm*

        As a Brit who enjoyed Elvis’s American Trilogy, I was aware of Dixieland but. It it’s history. Wow. Just wow.

    2. JamieS*

      Until I read OP’s letter I had no idea Dixieland was racist so I’m leaning towards the company either doesn’t recognize the jingle or doesn’t know. As background I’ve heard of the song but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard the song save for maybe a one line snippet so it’s not really something that’s on my radar.

      1. Project Manager*

        Yeah, my entire body of knowledge regarding Dixieland is that someone once told me, “FYI, there is a song called Dixieland and it is considered racist.” No clue what it sounds like, nor do I know the lyrics or any details of the history. And I am a Southerner. (Also, I can’t pick out music over general background noise anyway.)

        I’d be more explicit to HR. You might point out – explicitly – that a visitor doesn’t know that the jingles rotate and might believe the office has deliberately selected that one.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The problem is that it’s a catchy tune, a real toe-tapper. If you hear just the instrumental part, you’d have no way of knowing the words, and probably agree that it’s upbeat. That was my first exposure to it.

          I remember hearing parade bands play it when I was little. I thought it was odd with living in the north to play it in parades. But not much makes sense when we are young anyway. Years later I read the words. oh my, on so many levels. Oh my.

      2. Joie de Vivre*

        I didn’t know it was considered racist. The only version I had heard was one we sang in middle school. From what I remember, it was a properly spelled version of the first verse and chorus of the first version of the song at the link above. I grew up in the North.

        I still recognize the music/tune. Until today, when I learned the history and actually read the lyrics of all 3 versions, I wouldn’t have considered the song racist.

        1. not my usual alias*

          This. I was aware of a verse and the chorus, which we sang (with proper spelling and grammar) in grade school, and it was simply a nostalgic song about the South. HR may be equally unaware, and may decided it’s not a big enough deal to go to the trouble of changing that whole weird doorbell thing.

            1. LBK*

              I mean, you could potentially extrapolate just from that information why it might be considered unsavory. Pretty sure only white people have fond memories of the early US South.

              1. fposte*

                I think some people these days don’t realize how old the song is these days–people, especially as kids, get exposed to a lot of “old music” that’s mid-20th century and later (somewhere I bet there was a classroom that sang both “Dixie” and “This Land Is Your Land,” for a dubious partnership). And the song’s dwindling popularity means fewer opportunities to hear about the history.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I think this is exactly right. I grew up with a truncated version of “Dixie” (i.e., the more egregious verses excised) on my children’s folk song tapes—I’m pretty sure my mother would die of embarrassment if she had known its history. But because I didn’t grow up hearing it, I had no idea of how racist it was.

                  I think I learned it was the “unofficial” Confederate anthem and came from black minstrelsy and specifically from the idea that former slaves were singing about how much they missed plantation life. (Which, as an aside, I find so deeply repugnant that I pull a face when I hear it.)

                  But, for better or worse, most non-Black folks I’ve met either don’t know the song or don’t know its racist history. Most don’t know that this is the song people refer to when they talk about “whistling Dixie.”

                2. fposte*

                  @PCBH–yeah, I think it was in band music collections and such in my childhood, and I know it was in folk music books (hello, Fireside Book of Folk Songs) and on records that I really loved. But I grew up in a fairly progressive town and I don’t think we ever sang it or played it; my encounters were all from media rather than people.

                3. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @PCBH – I’m from the Pacific NW and as white as the belly of a dead fish, and I never needed to know the words to know it was racist. It was played on ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and there was a confederate flag on their car, and therefore I’ve never wanted anything to do with it. I recognize the tune immediately, and if I heard it at a company, I’d do business elsewhere.

              2. not my usual alias*

                Very much so. But there’s a difference between any song that glorifies the Old South is probably* inherently racist and this song itself is some straight-up absolute racist nonsense. I can see people deciding not to inconvenience themselves if they think it’s the first one.

                *I say “probably” because I’m sure there’s some nice nostalgic songs about catching fireflies or fishing or the wind whistling through the pines or whatever that have nothing to do with life on the plantation…

              3. Blue*

                This. Nostalgia and pride about living in the South is also the justification people use to continue displaying Confederate flag. Most symbols of “Southern pride” have messy, racist backgrounds…

                1. Cercis*

                  Too bad they’re not displaying the actual flag, but instead are displaying a variation of a battle flag. The rectangular variation gained most use after the KKK came into existence. If it were truly about pride (and pride about what, exactly? but I digress) they’d fly the square version or one of the official flags.

            1. Anonymity*

              HR was told the song had a history that some might be sensitive to, but OP did not use explicitly mention racism. That’s probably something most people could draw a line between, but apparently not this HR department.

      3. BananaPants*

        Frankly, I had no idea what “Dixie” sounds like and wouldn’t be able to pick it out of other doorbell chimes. When I listened to the clip on the Wikipedia page, I recognized the tune as something I’ve heard before, but I wouldn’t have known that without looking it up.

    3. Qmatilda*

      The doorbell/phone system in my flat in Glasgow Scotland in 1999 also played Dixieland. I cannot fathom why, at the time I presumed that the Scots didn’t know the song.

      1. fposte*

        I think the first four bars have been a pretty common inclusion in technology (including really low tech stuff) when there’s a suite of choices, as sort of a jaunty alternative to Westminster chimes. There’s a doorbell site that lists it in the top 10 doorbell chimes. Usually you can change the setting on these from tune to tune–maybe it’s just a question of the OP finding out how to do this and asking for permission (or forgiveness)?

        1. Qmatilda*

          you may very well be right. And if it can be changed, I’m sure google will be of help.

          The doorbell also played “deep in the heart of texas” I was pretty sure that it had an identity problem.

          1. fposte*

            Now I have a fantasy plot where the door opens to a different location depending on the chime. You could only go home when it chimed to “Scotland the Brave.”

      2. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

        I think general ignorance (or lack of caring) about the song’s racist usage and history combined with the song being in the public domain/royalty free is why it’s found itself on so many ring tones for various devices.

    4. Temperance*

      I’m from the northeast, but in an area where many people, inexplicably, fly confederate flags. We were never on the losing side of that war, so I’m not sure what that whole thing is about.

      I couldn’t identify “Dixieland”. I know “Dixie” from a former friend who had it as a car horn, but I honestly wouldn’t recognize it and I’ve been exposed to southern redneck culture for most of my life. YMMV obviously, but I find it weirder that an office would have bought that doorbell.

      1. ragaire88*

        I could be wrong, but I think they’re the same song. Dixieland is just a variant title.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, you’re right. “Dixie,” “Dixieland” and “Dixie’s Land” are all names for the same song.

      2. Annie Moose*

        I live in Michigan, and I cannot fathom all the Confederate flags I see around.

        You guys. You live in MICHIGAN. Your ancestors very likely fought against the Confederates! We were one of the first states to send troops, and we sent almost twice as many as were asked for! We were a major player in the Underground Railroad! We’re literally where the Republican party was formed! (which at the time was founded on a platform of abolition)

        …off-topic, but it just bugs me. Read a history book!

        1. KG, Ph.D.*

          The nationwide veneration (and white-washing) of the Confederate cause is seriously horrifying. There are monuments to Confederate soldiers and leaders in THIRTY-ONE STATES. There are even schools named after leaders of the Confederacy, including in California, of all places. There’s really no good reason for it.

          1. Cercis*

            There’s a big monument at the entrance to the Texas Capitol grounds. Grrr, pisses me off every time I see it. And Lee HS in San Antonio, whose mascot is the Vol. There was a movement to change the name, but it failed.

        2. Fisherman2*

          Hard to say actually….

          A good percentage of Michigan population descends from immigrants who came post Civil War, and there is a surprisingly large percentage of southern/Appalachian heritage in SE Michigan (see: the history of referring to Ypsilanti as Ypsitucky) due to migration around the Depression and WW2.

        3. Tafadhali*

          Yupppp. I’ve seen so many Confederate flags in Maine and I’m like YOU ARE AS FAR NORTH AS POSSIBLE. You contributed more Union solders per capita than any other state but Massachusetts! You were gung-ho Republicans — Abraham Lincoln’s VP was from Maine! I know you’re all into the white rural anti-government thing but wow.

    5. Mpls*

      I would be annoyed by the fact that *a song* played everytime the doorbell rang, instead of just a chime. Having it be a song with a problematic history is just piling on top of that.

      1. LBK*

        Right? It’s a place of business, the idea that it plays anything but a generic chime seems inappropriate.

      2. Anlyn*

        I’d be irritated by the constant earworms it would give me. Like right now I can’t get Dixie out of my head.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I’m a little afraid I’m going to start singing it (or “Oh, Susannah”) without realizing it today.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        Playing a song is great for rice cookers but maybe not so great for an office doorbell?

        I actually am really amazed that they have this set up and even a doorbell that plays multiple tunes. I’ve never heard one of these before.

    6. Lora*

      I’d be blunt: Why does the doorbell make a racist noise sometimes?
      HR: What do you mean?
      Me: It plays Dixie. What in heck? That’s about slavery and the South Shall Rise Again, in a bad way, and customers hear that crap. Can’t we just make it go ding-dong?

      I mean, HR will probably just say “uh-huh we’ll look into it,” but still. Eventually a customer is going to walk in and be like, “what the…? Bye, y’all.”

    7. Former Retail Manager*

      I am a Southerner, born and bred, and also couldn’t pick out Dixieland as a doorbell tone. Although I believe I’ve heard in the past that the song has a racist connotation, I simply wouldn’t recognize the song. The most annoying part of all of this to me is that this place has a doorbell tone, any doorbell tone, that is so loud that it can be heard throughout half of the floor. Is that really necessary? Perhaps changing it to “ding dong” and lowering the volume could resolve more than the offensive tune issue. If I had to hear this every time a visitor came, I’d go nuts!

    8. Indoor Cat*

      I’m white and live in Ohio, and I didn’t even know “Dixieland”was the name of a song. I had always thought Dixieland was a subgenre of jazz music, the kind Louis Armstrong played, with multiple trumpets in one group. I knew that some people found the term “Dixieland jazz” offensive, and instead call it “New Orleans Revival jazz”, and I kind of figured it was like how negro was once considered neutral but is now offensive, and then African American was considered correct for a long time but now black person or person of color is preferred (because not all black people have African heritage, which makes sense).

      All of which is to say, this is probably (hopefully?) a case of genuine, straight-up ignorance on the employer’s part. I also had never heard of Dukes of Hazzard until this comment thread either, though, so maybe I’m just out of the loop more broadly in terms of pop-culture.

  5. Jeanne*

    #1, I’m surprised no one has pushed back at hearing jingles every time the doorbell rings. How annoying. But you are right about Dixieland. I don’t know your business but you may be able to point out that you could lose business by playing that song. Many of your coworkers may have worked so hard at ignoring the jingles that they couldn’t tell you what is played but your customers will notice.

    1. Zathras*

      This was my first thought when I saw the question, I thought the letter would be asking “how do I convince my office to get rid of this doorbell that annoys the crap out of everyone?” I agree OP needs to be more direct. Don’t shy away from the ‘scary’ words, just use them in a matter-of-fact way rather than an accusatory way.

      Good to know that Dixieland is a tune to avoid – I was vaguely aware that a song existed with that name but didn’t know the lyrics or the history, and had to visit YouTube to remind myself of the tune.

      Another approach – I’m not sure how often the office gets visitors or whether any of them are ‘customers’, but if you have close relationships with any of them you could ask those folks to say something to your management about the doorbell. That might spur them into action faster than an internal complaint. I would do this in addition to your own complaint and only if I thought it would make sense within the context of the office and the customer/visitor relationships.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes! After pondering “How does ‘I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten, Look away!” not seem like a yearning for the days of slavery?” my next thought was that this would be like having a cell phone that switches around to random jingles for every call. The doorbell should reliably say “ding dong” or “da da DA” or “chime”–but only one of these–rather than get its groove on.

      1. Married into the South*

        There are many other historic southern traditions one could be nostalgic about aside from slavery. You can find slavery abhorrent but still respect other historic parts of your state’s culture.

        1. TychaBrahe*

          But the song is specifically about a freed Black man who wishes he were back “home” on the plantation where he was a slave.

          1. blackcat*

            Yeah, there are things where you can make the “is it southern culture or just racist” debate (though I land on the “if there is a debate, just don’t go there” side of things).

            Dixie is not one of them. It’s 100% glorifying slavery.

            1. Karen D*

              It’s also about the baggage that has built up around one particular symbol. In this case, you have one song and a flag, and a few other things from the Civil War/Reconstruction era, that have come to have high symbolic weight in our society.

              Why “Dixie” and not “Swanee River,” which is just as bad? Can’t really say. But that’s the symbolism that evolved, and arguing that it shouldn’t carry that symbolism is pretty freaking pointless, and kinda misses the whole point about what a symbol is in the first place.

              *(and is still the state song of Florida, to our everlasting shame — let’s replace it with something by Jimmy Buffett! I nominate “Floridaze.”)

              1. Anion*

                Funny, I always thought Jimmy Buffet was Florida’s everlasting shame (certainly was when I lived there). :-)

          2. Ann O'Nemity*

            And it was written specifically to be performed by white stage actors in blackface.

          3. Confused European*

            Thank you for this comment. Today was the first time I heard of this song and I didn’t really understand the lyrics well when I read them; there were a lot of words I didn’t know. I didn’t have enough context to know that the protagonist of the song was a freed Black man, so until I read your words, I didn’t get it. Thank you for helping me get it on a deeper level than “I believe them that is bad but I don’t know why”.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is not one of those. The song is entirely about slavery and about freedmen “longing” for their prior life as slaves on plantations. That is not “cultural,” unless the underlying argument is that the South’s identity during and after the Civil War, as well as its attitude toward Black people, was intertwined with racism.

        3. Bess*

          But not in the case of this song.

          Even if the lyrics were less “how I wish I were a slave again,” and even if it hadn’t been a minstrel song, it’s become a symbol of white supremacy in the US, and thus will never be included in the list of “traditions one could be nostalgic about” without being racist.

          I feel like a lot of arguments about why southern nostalgia should be okay are in part a lack of willingness to experience primarily negative (or maybe mixed) feelings about your heritage–which is understandable. But to pursue that pure nostalgia (and even to argue for it), is a more subtle form of denial about what Southern US history really was, and maybe a lack of willingness to understand, in depth, just how abhorrent it really was–because who wants to do that emotional work?

          And although I’m not from the Southern US, I don’t write as someone who thinks this is just about the US South, or just about the fallout of a civil war. As a kid I loved US pioneer & settler stories, and now it’s hard to look on them with the same feelings…and that’s okay, because I’m not entitled to those pure positive feelings. I don’t get to cherry pick my heritage and history, and if I run around saying how great those good old days were, I do it at the expense of people who suffered then–and who still directly suffer today–because of those good old days.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I remember a bit from Roy Blount Jr about a writers conference, where someone was arguing that there were so many southern writers because The South Lost The Civil War. And a black woman writer finally stood up and said “You know, I didn’t lose the Civil War.” And Roy didn’t, either.

            A song traditionally sung by someone in blackface about how great it was back when he was a slave is just not going to fly as “not a defense of slavery.” Unless you are Canadian and only associate it with the Dukes of Hazard.

          2. Jeanne*

            I think the debating and the mixed feelings are appropriate. That’s how we grow as humans. It just doesn’t belong at work. A workplace has a specific function, like making toys, and the racism/heritage problem doesn’t belong.

            1. Bess*

              I definitely agree with you. I was responding to Married into the South’s claim that you could be purely nostalgic about a song like Dixieland (or, I guess just the general things that comment referred to, it’s not specified) without approving of the racism it both states and represents, or without addressing it. Which makes it 1000% inappropriate for work even if it weren’t the theme song of some nastier racist groups in the US.

              I guess I was trying to have a conversation with MitS about the impulse to feel nostalgic about a time many can agree was pretty destructive, violent, etc. I think this impulse causes people to try to defend things that shouldn’t be defended, such as those good old days down South.

    3. Duane*

      At my old office job, we set up a doorbell since we started locking the front door. One of my coworkers decided to see how annoying he could make the doorbell by setting it up to use a jingle. After he spent 20 minutes ringing the doorbell to be annoying, myself and another coworker changed it to only one chime. He proceeded to tell on both of us, i had to have a chat with my confused manager the next day.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 Aside from the issues with that particular tune, rotating jingles sound like they might be a bit distracting and possibly quite irritating for staff – and I do wonder if it sounds that professional to visitors. With most types of businesses, I don’t think I’d expect the doorbell to play a recognisable jingle but just to make a ding noise or something. This might be a geographic thing, I don’t know, so apologies if I’m way off.

    Anyway, I think you do need to use what you described as scary words. It’s completely fine to use those words when you need them. They are just words and if HR finds them scary, that will beat the current non-reaction.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree about the jingles in general. That would be incredibly distracting for me and really annoy the crap out of me. Perhaps OP can also suggest that just a standard “ding” be used.

      1. HisGirlFriday*

        My office door bell (for deliveries; the delivery drivers come round back and we can’t see them) plays the first four notes of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which I always thought was kind of odd, but now that I know it can be SO MUCH WORSE, I’m never going to complain again.

        1. JustaTech*

          I worked in a lab where the lab phone (the one that people called to be let in the front door, so everyone was supposed to answer it) made the Chewbacca roaring noise. Super professional? No. Immediately recognizable? Heck yeah.

  7. Graciosa*

    OP#5, I wanted to let you know that the odds are that no hiring manager in my company would care about your weekly appointments.

    The rare exception would be a position that would require very significant travel, but the travel requirements appear in the postings. Even in those cases (I knew someone once who was routinely out of the country five weeks out of every six), either HR or the hiring manager would ask you if the travel would be manageable (for example, with an accommodation) before striking you from consideration.

    Before anyone makes assumptions about why we would ask, for positions with unusual requirements, we highlight them during phone screening and ask every candidate whether they would be an issue or affect the candidate’s interest in the position. Those positions are rare, and our job listings disclose the level of travel required so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

    With those very limited exceptions, I don’t know a hiring manager in my company who would care about your appointments. Everyone has some sort of life going on outside the office, and it just isn’t a big deal.

    Instead of worrying about this, I would suggest you focus on what you bring to the role – that’s what I care about.

    Best wishes

    1. LizB*

      +1! Nobody at my organization would mind about weekly appointments. We can absolutely schedule around them. We schedule around people’s daycare pick-ups, evening grad school classes, high school sports coaching, and a hundred other things. Unless you’re looking at jobs where butt-in-seat is a central requirement (e.g. receptionist), you’ll be fine.

    2. gladfe*

      I’ll add my voice to the chorus saying this’ll be fine! I used to attend a church group that required me to leave work early one day a week. I had three different bosses in the time I was attending that group. I explained to each that my preference for this particular group was mostly social (i.e., explicitly not a religious practice I needed them to work around), and I offered to switch groups if they needed me to stop leaving early. All three bosses told me it was fine, and none of them treated the request as anything out of the ordinary.
      Obviously, that was a very different situation, but my point is that nobody treated it as a big deal, even though my reason for being gone was a lot less important than yours. From my experience, it’s such a normal sort of request that it’d be very, very weird for anybody to react badly, even if there turned out to be some reason your schedule didn’t work for them.

    3. Hooptie*

      Adding to this – I certainly would not care; flexibility is something we’ve fought hard for and this is a very reasonable accommodation.

    4. Robyn*

      Thank you for responding. I feel encouraged now to take the steps and get into those interviews with more confidence.
      Thanks again!

      1. Kasia*

        I went to a Coumadin clinic for a few months and you have my sympathy. My clinic was able to schedule pretty early in the morning (I think as early as 7am), which really minimized my out of work time. I’m honestly not even sure my manager noticed. Good luck!

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, I am so so sympathetic. When I was fresh out of school, I also had a medical diagnosis that required weekly doctor’s appointments, and my doctor could not really meet after hours or on weekends (the latest appointment time was at 5, but because of traffic, etc., I had to leave at 3 p.m. to make it). I was wracked with nerves/stress about my hireability and about what I would do during the first year of working anywhere because FMLA wouldn’t apply.

    I ended up doing what Alison suggested and, during the offer/acceptance stage, I mentioned the need to leave early at least once a week. The position was salaried, and the employer didn’t have any issues with me working from 7-3 or simply working a short day. It was a huge relief, and it also made me realize that there are a lot of jobs where schedule flexibility is totally ok.

    You’re hireable, and there are people who will want to bring you on. To the extent possible, I would breathe deep and try not to psych yourself out of applying. Screen postings based on their potential flexibility (e.g., I wouldn’t take an hourly job as a receptionist if the required hours precluded being able to leave). But definitely break this into parts, and cross the doctors’ appointments bridge—which is step 4 or 5 of the job hunt process—once you get there. Good luck!

    1. Rachel in Minneapolis*

      Our office secretary at my job had a weekly two-hour appointment for the 16 years she worked for us. She was still able to get her 40 hours in throughout the week and it was never a problem to work around her appointment scheduled.

      It did help that her appointment was at the same time each week so we all knew when she would be unavailable. And I seem to recall a couple times when a big event was going on so she switched her appointment to accommodate something in the office. But in the last five years that I’ve been there I think that only happened twice.

      Good luck!

  9. I am not a lawyer but,*

    We have that doorbell at work too because it’s cheap & easy to install. Ours can also be changed to play the same song each time, although I enjoy The First Noel in July. Fortunately 99% of our visitors are internal.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Your internal visitors may also be less than thrilled if you’re playing a song with racist connotations – presuming yours is also playing Dixieland?

      Or just really annoyed by the relentless jingles!

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      That doorbell set up is also common as the cheap DIY battery powered one in places that don’t already have the wiring.

      I set mine in a rental to Jingle Bells in Dcecember. :D And no, I didn’t let it rotate anyway.

    3. ENFP in Texas*

      Do your non-Christian employees or customers have an issue with hearing a Christian religious song?

      1. Violet Fox*

        And if they do, do they say so, or do they just grit their teeth and figure it isn’t really appropriate, but isn’t worth the fuss?

      2. calonkat*

        yeah, I’ve gotta say that hearing The First Noel in July would indicate to me that this was NOT a place I wanted to be, unless I was looking for either a lecture, or random blessings with a purchase.

        I live in the midwest and shop online a great deal :)

        But I agree with all the comments that just a tone is a much less annoying option than a tune for a doorbell.

      3. Pennalynn Lott*

        I have asked for my money back (and my food order canceled) at two different fast food restaurants when I realized the songs being played over the sound system were religious Xtian songs. I want food, not a sermon. I can’t imagine my reaction if a business played “Dixieland”. Wowsers.

    4. what*

      I used to work in an office where we had a prankster who would steal the doorbell and walk around with it in his pocket, rotating through all the annoying jingles and making them play in my office until we tracked him down.

      I genuinely found it hilarious, though. Probably because this was a temporary position… permanently having to deal with a jingle every time someone rang the doorbell probably would have driven me nuts after more than 6 months.

  10. Poor Fergus*

    #2 – I have actually dealt with a company like this. I was in a hurry, and tired, so I just said OK fine and did the stupid review. Just to get out of there.
    But the correct response should have been “No.” And if they asked why, I should have said “Because I said so”.
    If I ever encounter this again, I will write a review, but not a very positive one.

    I changed my review later, stating that this company makes you write a review.

    1. Not Australian*

      My reviews in cases like this usually read “I paid, company sent item then badgered me for feedback – very annoying”. If they *insist* on being reviewed, they’re going to get honesty.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I’ve been doing this for Amazon sellers. If they send one “reminder” I ignore it- as long as I’ve gotten the item. If they send more than one reminder, or the email begging for the review comes before I even get the item, then I leave a negative review about the harassment.

        1. Sam*

          Those reminders are actually automatically sent by Amazon, and the seller doesn’t have any control over when you receive them. There’s a thread where an Amazon Seller Support employee is assisting a seller who wonders why people who buy his products don’t get a timely reminder email here:

          Apparently their official line is that they send requests for feedback to customers as a “courtesy” to sellers and do not guarantee they will send them promptly, if ever.

          1. Zombii*

            No, there’s a difference between the ones sent by Amazon and the ones sent by sellers. I often get both reminders (which is annoying).

    2. Merida May*

      I have as well! It was a used car dealership and they pushed me to write a review mid-transaction. I wrote a curt few lines. All it really did was make sure I never get another car from them again.

  11. First time poster*

    OP #5, I might go as far to say that depending on your situation you may be covered under the ADA. So as long as the employer has 15 or more employees and the job doesn’t require you to keep to a strict schedule, it could be considered reasonable accommodation to allow you to flex your schedule by a couple hours once a week.

  12. Ramona Flowers*

    #5 I don’t know whose voice that is in your head, but I’d hire you if you were the right person for the job irrespective of whether you have weekly appointments and I know I’m not the only one.

    It’s actually harder than you think to find good candidates. Sure, there’s a lot of competition but when you get right down to it, it can be hard to find someone who’s the right fit for a particular company or organisation. And if you’re that person who they’ve clicked with, a weekly appointment just isn’t going to be that big of a deal in most jobs. I’m sure you have lots to offer, so try to work on believing that you are awesome and worth hiring.

    1. Florida*

      Agree with this. I have a weekly allergy shot, which means I am an hour and a half late once a week. My job involves teaching a class, which means the whole class starts late once a week if I’m teaching that week. That’s a significant interruption, but no one really cares. Actually the employees in the class love it because they get to come in late too.
      I never mentioned this during hiring. I waited until I was hired. I approached my boss with the attitude of “this is a normal request that I’m sure you will be fine with,” and he was.

  13. Oscar Madisoy*

    In response to 2. My company forces clients to write online reviews before they can complete a transaction:

    Another option would be for the customer to write a review, and the review would be something like this: “The company required me to write a review before they would allow me to complete my transaction.” It’s not what the company wants, but it’s true and factual.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      OP isn’t a customer though – and it sounds like the current set-up prevents them from encouraging that without putting their job at risk.

      It would be good if the customers did do that, though!

  14. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    #1: If I worked there, I probably wouldn’t be able to restrain myself from quoting an MST3K bit: “I’m glad I’m not in Dixie, hooray! hooray!”

    1. it_guy*

      You could always substitute the word “Disney” for “Dixie” and it makes muuuuuuch more sense.

      I wish I was in Disney, Hooray! Hooray!
      In Disney’s Land I’ll take my stand,
      to live and die in Disney.
      Away, away, away down south in Disney!
      Away, away, away down south in Disney

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        That’s what I thought the words were when I was a kid. My mom said she thought the song was much improved.

      2. Karen D*

        There is an entire collection of subverted Disney songs, many of them quite obscene, that cast members at the theme parks used to teach each other.

        One of my faves (and SFW) was “When you wish upon a star/it won’t help you find your car/in the miles and miles of Disney parking lots”…..

      3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        This is five kinds of awesome. I love Disney and am going there for the Food and Wine Festival this fall.

  15. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Ideally someone needs to take a bigger run-up at this one. “This is a shady practice” isn’t working because your company has a problem to solve and it thinks this is the way to do it. They’re getting the solution wrong. They may also be wrong about the exact nature of the problem they want to solve.

    “We want good online reviews, how do we get them?” might sound like the presenting issue, but it’s not – it’s an attempt at a solution. Why do they want those reviews exactly? Do a lot of customers come to your business through those sites? Do they believe those reviews are going to affect the bottom line enough that it’s worth the risk of operating this way? Do you know how customers get to your site and what makes them buy? Is there any evidence to show that this has actual ROI and isn’t just damaging relationships?

    These are questions that someone in a digital or marketing team should be thinking about. It sounds like the underarching strategy is missing. You probably can’t reasonably solve this, but the fact they are a big company doesn’t mean they’re not idiots.

  16. KR*

    On the doorbell OP… I think it might be helpful if you go to HR with some printed out articles from a variety of neutral news sources and information about the history of the song. That way, HR can see plainly that it’s not just your opinion but it’s something that definitely offends a large group of people and has racist historical connotations. I think your first approach was good, but it wasn’t urgent enough for HR I guess so a second approach is needed. Try to go at it from the angle of… “I really don’t want us to inadvertently offend visitors or future employees. This needs to be turned off or the song needs to be changed. I’m not doing this for my personal preference per say, but because I want to create a welcoming environment for everyone in this office.”

    1. Florida*

      I don’t like this approach. When people approach things with, “I’m not offended but I’m looking out for someone else who might be offended.” I find that to be a real turnoff.
      Why not say, “I find this song offensive and others might too. ” If you think the song is offensive, own that. I think that is more powerful than, “I’m being offended on behalf of all those who I think might be offended.”

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        But I like the idea that KR was focusing on, which is to bring documentation – because LW herself is bothered by it, but the point is the song is actually a thing that will bother lots of people, and that lots of people see as racist. A company might dismiss one internal complaint, whereas the possibility that the LW is not alone, and customers will also have a big issue with it because it’s actually racist, would, I hope, be a big deal.
        The company wrote off her concerns once (and yes, she phrased it very vaguely) and the idea is to show this is a Big Deal.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree—I didn’t think KR was saying OP should say “I don’t think this is racist, but…” KR’s suggestion helps OP demonstrate that the song is objectively racist, and thus inappropriate in the workplace. It helps shut down some of the most frequent “derail” counterarguments about OP “being offended” or “oversensitive.”

          Race and racism, particularly in the workplace, can be really difficult to discuss, and it triggers a lot of strange and foreseeable emotional reactions. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it, but it can help to focus on “objective facts” in order to avoid a situation where the person hearing the complaint starts focusing on their subjective feelings.

          1. KR*

            This was what I was trying to get at that you said more eloquently, thank you. Also, I was concerned that if OP said that they themselves find it offensive HR might not take it seriously because she’s white. Maybe a better way to say it would be, “This isn’t personally offensive to me as a white woman specifically, but the song has an obviously racist history and I’m uncomfortable with it playing in the office and the offense and unease it might cause visitors or future employees that happen to be people of color. ” Roscoe, please correct me if this is still channeling the “offended on my behalf” type reasoning.

            1. Roscoe*

              I think that is a perfectly fine way to put it. You aren’t saying you are offended for me, but pointing out how people may feel

      2. Roscoe*

        I agree so much with this. As a black man, I find it very annoying when people are offended at things “on my behalf” which I may not even care about. If it offends you, say it, don’t use me as your excuse

      3. KR*

        I was thinking there may be a chance HR would discount any offense she’s feeling because she’s white, but I can also see your point.

      4. Security SemiPro*

        I suggest working on your turnoff.

        The people who are really hurt when you do something offensive might not even tell you about it. The might assume, rightly or wrongly, that if you are the kid of person who could accept something that offensive that you are also the kind of person that would make a huge argument about how they shouldn’t be offended/hurt by the offensive thing and then do it more and more on purpose at them, just to be hateful. So they won’t bring it up, and will just try to avoid you. I know I don’t have the energy to fight every fight in my industry (which is pretty constantly anti women, anti non coder, anti parent, anti older people and I’m all of those) with people who are just going to be jerks about it, so I do my job and bring things up with people I trust, but tough it out through a bunch of stuff.

        If you really want to learn, listen to people who bring things to you, even gently, even if they won’t own that they are upset/hurt/offended by whatever it is. Listen anyway.

        I am deeply grateful whenever someone who is not me brings up “Hey, what you just said is really awful about women. We have women who work here, and I’d like them to be happy and comfortable working here. So don’t say things like that, k?” Its one less discussion about whether or not my feeling like I belong in my industry is important or not that I have to go through.

        1. Florida*

          I think we are talking about two different things. In OP’s case, she is offended. In your scenario, the subject is not offended.

          If someone says something that might offend women, but which you are not offended by, then you would say, “this might offend women.”

          But if it is something that you are offended by, then you say, “I am offended by this.” You can also add that if I’m offended by it others might be as well.

          But I think if you are offended by something and you say you are concerned because some unidentified people might potentially be offended that is not nearly as effective as saying, “I find this song offensive for these reasons. Can we quit playing it in the office ?”

          1. BWooster*

            “that is not nearly as effective”

            I’m not sure that you are actually talking about two different things. As you said, when someone says that there’s potential to offend there as opposed to “I am offended,” you simply don’t take that as seriously when Security SemiPro is saying (and as someone who works in the same field, I completely agree) that you really should.

            It’s probably worthwhile to evaluate someone’s issues on their merits rather than the personal impact. If it makes such a difference to you, just assume everyone who raises the issue is personally impacted by it and go from there.

            1. Florida*

              You are right in that I don’t take a potential anything as seriously as something that I actually happening. Everything has the potential to offend someone, but certain things have actually offended someone. The latter is more serious. Generally companies treat actual problems more seriously than potential problems. (That is not to say they ignore potential problems, just that they are a lesser priority.)
              You can compare it this to how a company reacts when you say, “this defect in the building is a potential liability,” compared to how they react when you say, “the roof just caved in.” potential problem vs. actual problem. How many companies do you know that give the same priority and urgency to the former? Please note that my question is not how many companies pay attention to the potential problem. It is how give the same priority and urgency to the potential damage as opposed to actual damage. My suggestion is that OP should make it clear that there is already actual damage not potential damage that may never even come to fruition.

    2. Orfeo*

      While it is totally okay to call racist practices racist, and escalation is justified, if the letter writer feels up to it, I (a total stranger on the internet responding to a few sentences) think that this approach might backfire. That is, it is an excellent way to start a long, unpleasant, and unproductive conversation about ‘Is this song racist’? It has the potential to strongly imply that I, the person who knows this history and is taking action against it, am a good person, and you, who are oblivious, are a bad person. It might be more effective (or it might not) to approach it as something annoying and grating, which it is, rather than a symbol of a great evil, which it also is.

      Generally, I don’t think that there is any perfect way to phrase your objections that will fix something like this in one conversation. Making any sort of change, even one that is obviously necessary can sometimes be a major hassle, particularly in a large office. I used to work in a large open-plan office which required a card to access. Every time anyone entered the card reader beeped loudly, and because of the number of people using the room, it beeped constantly. Everyone hated it, no one thought it was okay, but actually getting it changed took forever. Even if the letter writer raised their concerns with HR, and HR responded by agreeing that of course that’s not okay, how embarrassing that it has been allowed to happen, it might be one thing on a list of things that need to be fixed in the building, and it might take more than one conversation to keep it from slipping down that list. The letter writer might have to resign themselves to constant repetition of ‘the doorbell really isn’t okay’ before anything changes.

      1. KR*

        I think in this case since the doorbell is offensive and racist and not just annoying, OP can comfortably day “I think this is important and this needs to take priority.”

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree. If HR opens up a debate on whether or not this is racist, frankly, a copy of the lyrics and a link to Wikipedia should be sufficient. I think KR’s approach actually makes it less likely for someone to feel ashamed that they may not have known the history. If it’s done in a really kind and thoughtful way, I think it can be effective.

          But there’s also value in saying, “Look, this doorbell is racist, and aside from any of us thinking it’s not ok, we’re going to have visitors who recognize it and potential new hires who hear it, and they are going to wonder about our judgment.” The level of egregiousness is so much greater than something simply being annoying that it’s important to name why it’s egregious.

          1. Karen D*

            Right. Exactly. You have to start with the premise that anything can be offensive to somebody in the right circumstances, and you really can’t control that.

            But there’s a point at which something becomes an honest-to-goodness symbol. It can still evoke complex emotions, but there’s a common ground of understanding about what it represents. The song “Dixie,” along with the Stainless/Bloodstained Banner (what most people think of as the Confederate flag) reached that tipping point long ago. People who argue that it shouldn’t symbolize what it symbolizes are really shouting into the wind.

  17. Bobsterbrownie*

    #1 its actually against Yelp’s ToS to generate reviews that way. You can anonymously report it to Yelp and there is a pretty swift warning issued or someone can snap a screenshot of the requirement, post a review and Yelp has actual fraud teams who scan for those sort of thing. If the company persists or if it’s clear (evidence like screenshots of the review requirement and tracking number of reviews generated, etc) that numerous reviews were generate that way, Yelp with actually put a consumer warning on the businesses Yelp page warning people that the reviews are manufactured. There are articles online showing when it’s happened and screenshots of that consumer warning. Document what they are dong, report it to Yelp and you’ll see swift results. Just keep yourself anonymous because Yelp puts ALL available details in that fraud warning.

    1. Liane*

      Unfortunately, the customers probably cannot “snap a screenshot.” It reads like the transactions may be done via phone. If so there won’t be anything to screenshot.

        1. Zombii*

          Everywhere I’ve worked considered it a terminable offense to post images of internal documents or intranet pages to a public forum, but maybe I’ve just happened to have only worked in toxic companies and normal companies are actually chill with it.

  18. Wendy Darling*

    I just realized I played Dixieland on the piano as a kid and had no idea of the connotations. I was in elementary school and the sheet music had no lyrics.

    Add that to the giant growing pile of Stuff From My Childhood I Did Not Realize Was Racist Until Later.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Oh man, I have such stories of things I played on the piano, all unwitting, as a child. I’m not sure if my piano teacher was trolling or just happened to have a lot of beginner-level sheet music for patriotic Soviet anthems lying around….

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My piano teacher was about a thousand years old (okay, realistically she was probably 60s or 70s — 8 year olds are bad at judging age) and taught me out of books from the 1940s. So I played about what you would expect under those circumstances, really.

      1. Jesca*

        We did too. But we also always sang ring around the rosie without understanding it was about the black plague. Some things arent outright “negative” and need context. But now no pretty much count that most minstral songs have racist context.

        1. fposte*

          Ring around the Rosy isn’t about the black plague–that’s a myth. It looks like it only emerged in the nineteenth century and was the song for a kids’ ring game, where little kids where allowed to basically dance despite the ban against dancing. The “plague” notion turned up in the early 1960s from a single writer who gave no sources and nobody’s been able to trace it before him.

          I know somebody who was doing her dissertation on the history of the myth about it, which is kind of cool.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Also, it’s pretty ridiculous to suggest that a song with a grim origin is just like a song with lyrics celebrating slavery.

    2. Natalie*

      Some versions of the lyrics remove the exaggerated dialect that was a staple of blackface minstrelsy, in which case it probably wouldn’t have been clear that the speaker is someone pining for their life in slavery.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This was the version I grew up hearing, and I didn’t know it was racist until later in life. But I think this is why this letter is so helpful! It sounds like many of us either (a) never heard this song, or (b) heard it but did not know how racist it was.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I actually didn’t think I knew the song until I youtubed it, and then I was like OHHHHHHH. …ohhhhh crap.

          I feel like it’s been in old cartoons and stuff as an instrumental or something because I remember it being a tune I just *knew* as a kid, but I never knew it had lyrics.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m pretty sure it was in old reruns of Looney Tunes (I think?), but it was definitely on several of my children’s tapes as a little kid. But I also didn’t know “Zip a Dee Doo Dah” was super racist, either, and I heard that song frequently as a child. :(

            That said, I never heard “Dixie” outside of those contexts (no Dukes of Hazzard), and I wasn’t really exposed to it (thankfully) as a teen or adult.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Re: Zip a Dee Doo Dah — WAIT WHAT? Dammit not again. (I played that on the piano too, it’s in my book of easy Disney piano songs.)

              It is so embarrassing that there’s a ton of stuff from my middle class west coast white childhood that I did not realize was totally racist until *just now in my 30s* due to a combination of those things being out of context and elementary schoolers (at least, middle class west coast white elementary schoolers) not engaging in a lot of thought about whether things are in fact Totally Super Racist. I sort of lived my life assuming that anything my ancient piano teacher gave me was clearly entirely wholesome, but it turns out that my childhood was in fact a minefield of unexamined racism and my piano teacher was a middle class west coast white lady who was probably born in the 1920s.

              1. Mints*

                Wikipedia says Zip A Dee Doo Dah is a not racist version of a song Zip Coon. Zip Coon is predictably awful, but Zip a Dee Doo Dah looks okay? I’d welcome other links

                1. Candi*

                  Zip A Dee Do Da comes from Song of the South, which is racist enough that it’s really hard to get in the US. (Someone I Know (TM) who wanted it several years ago had to order it from England.)

                  About the only positive comment I’ve found about SotS is that the gentleman playing Uncle Remus was the first black live-actor Disney ever hired.

                  Disney also ‘disneyfied’ the Brer Rabbit stories. The original ones are subtly subversive, with Brer Rabbit always winning over Brer Fox and Brer Bear, who apparently are supposed to represent the plantation owners and their lackeys. Sometimes painfully, such as the one where Brer Rabbit convinces Brer Fox to saddle himself like a horse (because Rabbit is far too ‘sick’ to go to where Fox wants him to be, and where pain will happen). After Rabbit mounts, he puts on spurs, and, well…

  19. JC Denton*

    #1: Your letter just makes me think of all the countless door chimes, old cell phone rings, and other devices that have this “melody.” I suspect HR considered the issue, thought it was too minor to deal with or perhaps didn’t want to ruffle feathers and let the issue drop silently. Depending on the office culture, bringing it up again might get you labeled as someone who is easily offended. (This really makes me want to post in an open thread on where we draw the lines on what’s offensive and what’s really not.)

    1. Mookie*

      perhaps didn’t want to ruffle feathers

      So you’re saying HR was trying to protect people from being offended?

      1. RVA Cat*

        Given the context and ruffling feathers, I am now picturing OP1’s boss as Foghorn Leghorn. “I say, I say, I say son, this is the South and that’s just how we do things dowwwn heere.”

          1. RVA Cat*

            He is a very white rooster. Think he’ll accuse the OP of being “one of them Rhode Island Reds”?

            Seriously though, they need to get Dixie off the doorbell. It would have my shoulders up around my ears.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s minor to play the Confederate anthem when people arrive at your office?

      1. JC Denton*

        Perhaps in their eyes, yes. There are definitely some areas in the deep south where complaining about this would get you labeled as a complainer/whiner/etc. I’m not trying to side one way or the other. OP brought it up to HR and they took no action. I don’t necessarily think following up is worthwhile. I’ve also seen companies manage out people that were chronically offended, right or wrong, as being poor a “culture fit” for the organization. I’m not telling OP not to push, but to see it as the potential start of a road in this company which may or may not have career consequences.

        1. fposte*

          I think what you’re saying is true, but I also think that when there’s a technical/organizational thing this can easily fall into the [shrug] “sure we’ll change it as soon as somebody figures out how” canyon. And that’s not necessarily the horrified correction one might be hoping for, but it’s also not pushback. If I were the OP, I’d consider going back and volunteering to be the solution–“I bet it’s a PITA to change, but it’s so offensive that I think it’s worth the time. Can I have access to the unit so I can change it to something neutral? I think it’ll only take a few minutes to figure out, and then we’ll be safe and I can give the unit back right away.”

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Thank you for clarifying—I definitely misunderstood your first post, and this was very helpful (to me) for getting a better handle on it.

        3. Mookie*

          Deep South isn’t all white by a long chalk, as demonstrated by monuments a’tumbling.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        It’s only ok if you play the Union version, “Down in the south in the land of traitors…”

  20. Elizabeth West*

    Yes I’m still up! I was devouring a book and couldn’t stop until I finished. :)

    #1–Oof. That would drive me nuts anyway; I hate that song on purely musical grounds. Even to hear a jingle I like again and again all day would grate. But yeah, I think you need to bring it up again.
    And I’m sorry I read this because now the damn song is stuck in my head. >_<

    #2–I wish I knew what company this was so I could avoid it, though if I come up against it, I will probably state how annoying it is right in my review!

    #3–I'd shake hands with everyone to start if possible. I recently had a multi-person interview and folks were seated when I came in, so we didn't do that. But I see no reason to repeat the whole rigamarole at the end of the interview.

    #4–From what I've heard about those shows, they don't do very good work anyway and often over-remodel. Maybe you dodged a bullet here. Or it could just take a while to decide on upcoming episodes; I'm not familiar with that process.

    #5–I got nothing but I'm sure it will be fine.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      #4 – Remember when even ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ would remodel the existing home and then show before and after pics? It was sometimes hard to see the old interior in the new one, but if you examined it closely, it was still there. Now they just knock the existing house down and rebuild. Umm . . . that’s not a makeover.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Remember when Extreme Makeover was about making over people (a more traditional usage of makeover) and they spun off extreme makeover home edition. Somehow the home one survived in memory better which is best I think even though I’m sure it’s rushed and shoddy work.

        Some of those time limited (weekend /2-day) remodel shows clearly do work that won’t last very long. Looks pretty but best if not actually used/sat on/moved.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes! It was kind of horrifying when it was about “making over” humans.

        2. JulieBulie*

          Someone sued the Extreme Makeover show, blaming them for the suicide of a contestant’s sister in 2004. (Long story but easy to find on Google.) I think that’s why they abandoned the people-makeovers and shifted to house makeovers.

        3. Karen D*

          Interestingly, my mom is friends with a woman who’s in an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house. (She bought it from the family that was the beneficiary of the renovation – long short, less than a year after the show aired, a series of tragedies altered that family’s circumstances to the point where it didn’t make sense for them to stay in that house any more.)

          It’s now a group home for teens who have aged out of foster care; Mom’s buddy is the resident manager. And the construction, she found, was actually pretty solid. One of the things that show does is work with local contractors who volunteer their time and effort, and at least in this case, some of the things the contractor did fast and sloppy for the cameras, they came back and did better, later. In fact, they were were still coming out, as recently as a few years ago, to repaint as needed.

      2. OP #4*

        Lol I don’t remember the details but I remember reading that the recipients on that show ended up getting stuck with a huge property tax bill after the remodel, which sucked because they were all needy families.

    2. Antilles*

      #4–From what I’ve heard about those shows, they don’t do very good work anyway and often over-remodel. Maybe you dodged a bullet here.
      By all accounts I’ve ever read from people who were on these shows, this is accurate. My wife used to love these kinds of shows, so we actually did some research and found there are tons of issues with the HGTV remodel shows. Among them:
      1.) The remodels are often impractical for daily use or things that you just really don’t need/care about.
      2.) The remodels can drastically increase your annual costs for maintenance, utilities, and property taxes. There are stories all over of people who got a big shiny HGTV remodel, then were forced to sell it a couple years later once they realized that they couldn’t afford the much higher annual upkeep costs.
      3.) They rush everything because the cost of having a camera crew there is extremely expensive. The reason a normal contractor doesn’t remodel your entire house in 48 hours is because it actually takes time to do it right. Paint is a perfect example – if you’re doing it correctly, you need to allow quite a bit of downtime for the primer to actually set before painting, then more downtime for the paint to completely dry before finishing. But the tight turnaround time of the shows doesn’t really allow for this.
      4.) The work quality often leaves a lot to be desired. Remember, their goal is to produce a remodel that sounds good in the narrator’s voice and looks great on TV. That means that a lot of the crucial ‘hidden’ parts of the work (e.g., leveling the ground underlying your shiny new floor, the electrical wiring for your bright new lights) are rushed or substandard.

      1. OP #4*

        Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about this too but it’s good to be reminded. Remember TLC’s Trading Spaces? (I heard they’re bringing it back, btw! So excited!) They used to just build their own “couches” from wood and foam with cloth over it. It looked good at the end but who’s going to sit on that?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My favorite things on that show were when the designers would make good use of what the homeowner already had rather than chuck it all out and start over. But that tended not to happen quite so much in subsequent seasons–they started focusing on the surprise and the reveal more than actually making the space nicer for people. So they would do all these really weird things just to see their faces.

          I also hated it when the designers wouldn’t listen to the neighbors when they said, “No, Wakeena would hate that.” Like Hildi with her hay-covered textured wall. Errrghh.

          1. nonegiven*

            I always watched Clean Sweep and wondered about the living with the results. They pick out 2 rooms of over crowded hoarded stuff and drag out everything on the lawn and make them go through everything and sell most of it, they’d stay in a hotel or something at night. Meanwhile, they’d have people repainting, remodeling, building furniture, etc on the inside, for the 2 rooms. I think it was on TLC.

  21. Ross*

    Going back to the reality one: I’m a professional actor and unfortunately not letting unsuccessful candidates know is standard operating procedure. I can attend or self-tape a dozen auditions a week and not hear back from any of them. It’s just the industry norm.

    They didn’t like your audition tape or there was something that made them decide you weren’t right for the job (and being on a reality show is a job as far as they are concerned). It’s rude but it is the norm.

    1. OP #4*

      Yeah, if I never heard from them after submitting my tape, I wouldn’t have been surprised. It was the fact that she scheduled a call for later the same day, and this was the person we’d been talking to regularly, and after confirming over 3 emails back and forth, didn’t bother calling for her own suggested timeslot call and never responded to emails again.

      Again, I get that it happens but that was so rude after I accommodated her requested time, and it was like 3 hours later so it’s not like there was a lot of time for her to forget.

  22. Southern anon for this*

    RE OP1- i grew up in the south and that song is really offensive to me. i went to one of the universities which had to explicitly ban it and remember the drama at the time. I really like AAM’s advice, it is similar to what i say -I start from the point that people might not realize the depths of its history and what it can mean to different groups of people. I was in Canada once and people thought that the rebel flag was just the Dukes of Hazzard flag. I do think for some people they haven’t been exposed to it enough to get prickly about it, which is why i like AAM’s wording about “oversight.”

    Although it isn’t the point (and not the best way to go about it (this stuff needs to be shut down for XYZ, not because of economics), i have sometimes added “this could become an issue with vendors or clients who are sensitive to this song/confederate imagery and i would hate us to lose clients/sales/etc.”

    1. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

      As a Canadian I’m sorry about the Confederate flag thing here. Canadian rednecks with one of these stickered on their truck really do just think it’s a symbol of rebellion and don’t have the first clue about its history.
      So embrassing.

      1. esra*

        We were at a Canada Day fireworks display last year and a truck with the confederate flag in its window drove by. They got booed so hard by the crowd.

    2. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I was once that Canadian. The only exposure I had to the Rebel flag was from Dukes of Hazard.

      When I realized the greater history ……. 0_o “Oh my.”

    3. Observer*

      It’s not the point, but it often is the best way to approach it. For me, if that works, then go for it. Obviously it would be MUCH better if people did the right thing because it’s the right thing. But, better to do the right thing for self interest than to not do it at all.

  23. AMD*

    #5 – Good luck with interviewing! I suspect everyone is right in saying it will be NBD for these weekly appointments.

    My experience with Coumadin patients is that most do stabilize on their dose (given consistent diet etc.) and can switch to less frequent INR checks. Is there any way your doc might be OK with you getting a home INR machine and following some kind of dose protocol without the weekly visit?

    1. Isobel*

      Yes, I was wondering if home testing might be an option, but don’t know how that would work with insurance etc. There are reviews showing home testing can be safe and reliable.

    2. Cube Farmer*

      I have been on Coumadin/warfarin for almost 10 years now due to a mechanical mitral valve. OP5, your INR will level out once you get the hang of it and then again sometimes it will need more monitoring. Some people are able to get theirs so regular, they only test once a month. I test every two weeks but was able to get a home monitoring device through my insurance company. Prick my finger, drop the blood on the stick and log it into the monitoring company’s website. So much easier than taking an hour off work to drive to the doctor’s office for a 5 minute test. Best of luck and keep on ticking!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine was only once a month (I had to take it for a year after a DVT). I wish I could have done this, rather than get stuck all the time. I had track marks from all the blood draws. :P

    3. Just J.*

      +1 to the comments here. I have a close family member that has been on Coumadin for almost 20 years. Before the home test methods were available, and when she had to go weekly or bi-weekly for the finger prick, she hunted around to find a clinic within 10 minutes of her home to go to. The clinic is not at all associated with her cardiologist’s or electrophysiologist’s office but does take her insurance and does or course forward on her results. As others have pointed out, a good employer would not think twice about having you leave an hour early or start an hour later once a week, but if it is stressing you out, why not see if there is a clinic closer to your home / office.

  24. JamieS*

    I don’t think OPp #2’s company would appreciate the review I’d leave if I were a customer.

    1. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

      Same here. How has this not blown up in their face?

      1. GWillikers*

        OP here – the way they have us do it is very slick, we just casually drop it into the conversation and then while we are filling out information on the computer (super charming and bubbly of course!) “hey, im going to send a link to your phone while Im typing, could you do me a favor and just rate ME real quick while you wait?” (“do me a favor” is important because it makes people think oh sure Im just helping this fellow person out, and ME is important because you are on a personal level now, and it isnt you against this giant, faceless corporation). They spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy researching the best way to approach the request/wording/inflections/etc

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          That is pretty slick and I an sure some folks hesitate to say what they really feel for fear of it landing on the sales rep.

        2. No regular name*

          Your link would be wasted on my landline phone as I typically do not make business calls from my cell phone. And as others have said, any review I might be forced to give would be totally negative.

        3. JamieS*

          Honestly that’s not that slick. It just sounds like run of the mill standard customer service phrases to me (do me a favor, do this real quick, etc.) and certainly wouldn’t inspire me to act. I’m more interested in what you’re supposed to do/say if someone gives a hard pass.

          Also are these face to face interactions or over the phone?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think it depends on how many times you’ve heard it. The first time it will land as “helping out the nice clerk.” Once it’s happened 20 times, people’s hackles go up.

        4. Lora*

          I would probably say “mmm I’ll get to it later, I have to do a thing” and promptly forget about it. If you’re typing, I’m already doing something else. And if you were insistent I’d suddenly make it extremely awkward for you, then get up and leave.

        5. TG*

          I would find it very weird for a company to try to send me a link to use on my phone while I was in the middle of a face-to-face transaction with them and I wouldn’t do it.

        6. LizB*

          So if I say “No thanks,” and you’ve already had five people refuse in the month… what do you do? Do you have to tell me that you can’t finish my transaction until I leave a review?

          I agree with everyone saying to report this to the review sites. Even with the slick wording, your company is not in compliance with their ToS, and they’re not going to be happy about this policy.

        7. bkanon*

          You’d never get a review out of me! I still have my old cell phone. The most advanced thing it does is text. I can’t click on links, no web access.

  25. Blurgle*

    I disagree with Alison’s suggestion that #5 tell her eventual employer that she can schedule her appointments to fall near the beginning or end of the work day. That would be misleading.

    There are only so many appointment slots at any medical clinic, and most people will want appointments near the beginning or end of the day. It is unlikely that OP can snag the early morning or late afternoon slots unless she doesn’t already have them, and it’s simply unrealistic to tell an employer she can. (At the clinic I go to it can take upwards of *five years* to move into a coveted late-afternoon spot.)

    1. Witness Me*

      Alison said to do that IF the OP has the flexibility to do so, not to just promise it regardless.

      1. Blurgle*

        OP should never promise this. Like, never. You never know when your appointment will change.

        In fact, I’d make it a hard and fast rule never to make promises like this. The clinic gets you in when THEY can take you: your schedule doesn’t matter to them.

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, this is a good point. The OP will probably know better than we do what scheduling is like at the particular clinic she goes to, and will have a better idea what’s realistic.

          You’re right about not making promises she can’t keep, but she should also not make it sound worse than it is. It might be better to say, “The clinic I go to is usually pretty good about scheduling, and I’ll try to get morning or late afternoon slots as often as I can.” if that’s true than to outright promise to *always* get the last slot of the day.

        2. Fictional Butt*

          I think we can trust that OP knows her own situation. I had a relative who had an appointment at the exact same time every week for years. Presumably if OP goes to the same clinic every week, they will be able to create a set schedule for her and won’t just squeeze her in at random times. And even if she ends up needing to change her appointment time at some point in her employment, her employer will likely be able to accommodate her.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Would it be problematic for OP to say that—assuming their clinic offers the flexibility to do so—they will do their best to try to schedule appointments so that they do not conflict with work hours? Or is that too close to a promise, also?

          (I’m asking this out of genuine curiosity/musing, not as a critique or challenge to what you’ve written.)

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      It would be great if the out-patient medical field could stop operating as a 9-5 and if second shift was the default instead (3-11). It would be so much easier for working people to go to the doctor.

      1. LabTech*

        Rather than inconvenience an entire sector of workers, I’d rather our society didn’t have cultures that were so absolute about not accommodating necessities like going to the doctor – or even things that your life doesn’t depend on, like needing to stop by the bank.

      2. ancolie*

        Seriously. I love that my doc does what he can (in a 2 doctor practice) to expand hours. Two days a week, they start appointments at 7am and another two, they make appointments up til 8pm.

  26. Thomas E*

    #5: Ask your doctor if you can use a home INR machine. They are reasonably cheap, easy to use, and allow you to monitor INR more frequently and so safer.

    1. Rx-er for life*

      +1. I have several long haul truckers and patients that live in remote locations that use a home kit. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, you could use a flexible spending accounts to purchase one. Good Luck!

      1. Home INR monitors*

        Medicare covers them so most of the other insurance companies have followed suit. Or can be convinced with a well worded appeal (which the major INR monitor supply companies will help with).

  27. Noobtastic*

    #2 stopped me cold. I didn’t even finish reading the article, let alone any of the comments.

    OK, if I were a customer of this company, and I went through all the ordering process, only to be told that I HAD to leave an online review in order to complete the transaction, I gosh darned well would leave a review!

    “The sales person was great, and I was eagerly anticipating getting my XYZ. Then they refused to complete the transaction until I gave them an online rating for a thing I don’t even HAVE, yet. One star! And that’s just because the sales person was great, and I can’t give zero stars. Also, I’m cancelling my order, and telling all my friends never to buy from this company because of this. I’m going to take my money over to Carob Teapots, instead.”

  28. Wrench Turner*

    I can’t leave a comment until you reply to what I’m going to say.
    The only way this makes sense is if you work for psychics or time travelers.
    I would leave, unless you work for the Doctor.

  29. GWillikers*

    Question #2 OP here – to clarify some things:

    “Who are your clients, and why do they find this acceptable?” – Most of the clients we get are in a hurry, and really just want to be done with everything so they can get on with their day. I think the way they have us ask just gets us a “yeah, yeah, OK whatever just lets be done” attitude from them.

    “Anyway, you and your coworkers could try pushing back” – I have spoken at length with my manager, and her direct report, about how I think this is terrible and the reasons why. They just shrug and basically say “well, not much we can do”. The young people we have working are the worst though, they dont know any better and have completely been brainwashed into thinking this is just how companies do business and it is so great. I also think a majority of people just go along with it because job security.

    “How detailed or nuanced a review could someone write in that situation? You must be getting a lot of one-sentence reviews.” – Yes, I personally tell people (like on Google) – please just put in a star rating without writing anything. I want to make that the smallest part of the sales process as I can. I just hate it so, so much.

    1. MuseumChick*

      I would do what someone up thread suggested, get a throwaway email account and report your company to Yelp and Google for forcing people to write reviews.

      How long has your company been doing this? I would imagine that there must be one star reviews piling up.

      1. GWilikers*

        You’d be very surprised, most people give fives I guess because we are standing right there when they do it, and I guess they don’t want to be see as “that guy” who would be “oh there’s Mr. SoAndSo who gave us the bad review the other day!!!”

    2. Justanotherthought*

      WOW, OP, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It’s so frustrating when there are people like you (as in, people with common sense!!) who are trying to HELP your company and they won’t listen. I can’t believe they are so shortsighted to see what a bad idea this is.

      Clearly you don’t want to out your company, but I like others’ suggestions of tipping off Google and Yelp from an anonymous email address.

    3. LQ*

      This sucks so much. And I get based on what you’ve said why people are doing it. I know a lot of people here said they’d get pissed off and 1 star, but when you have someone pleasant and kind in front of you asking for a favor it’s different and most people don’t respond that way because of human nature.

      That said, if anyone does complain about this policy do you feel comfortable asking them to push it up. “I’m sorry, I’m required to do this, I completely understand your frustration, here’s the information for HQ.” (I don’t know if you’d get in trouble for doing that.)

      I do think that bringing up that it is against TOS and can create a lot of problems on Yelp and Google is a good thing to bring up. (And you know, email Yelp with this.)

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, the face to face thing also means people hauled themselves into the OP’s workplace, so there’s a big sunk cost that keeps them from wanting to just walk away. Ugh.

    4. This Daydreamer*

      Ah, yes, frontline retail. I used to joke that my store was going to institute a policy of whacking people in the head with membership brochures until they signed up for the reward card. Corporate would come up with a *fantastic* idea for some new way to harass customers and it would be our fault that the effort failed and people complained. Our raises and even employment hinged on this crap. I still have nightmares. Memberships! Credit cards! Gift cards! Emails! You’re spending too much time per transaction! You forgot to offer gift wrapping! AAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

      1. Zombii*

        Seriously. Back when I worked in retail hell while going to school, I almost got written up once because my weekly new sign-up rate was zero (corporate had a huge boner for this stat and was demanding we make sure 25% of our customers sign up for the card per week)—by an odd series of events, 100% of the people I’d checked out already had the card. I asked my manager how to pitch the card to people who already had it, he agreed corporate was being stupid and didn’t write me up.

  30. Home INR monitors*

    OP #5 – When I was taking Coumadin, my INR was very unstable & I had to go to the Anticoagulation clinic every week – until I got a home INR monitor. It made my life so much easier & improved my quality of life. It was similar to a blood glucose monitor for diabetics except it checked my INR levels. They had a nurse come to my home to train me originally & then I just checked it once a week (or more frequently if needed). What used to take an hour or two (counting travel & waiting room time), literally took less than 5 minutes & could be taken anywhere (vacation out of state). (I then called in the result.)

    While weekly appointments should be something that the employer can accommodate, I highly recommend looking into home INR monitors online & talking to your health care provider.

  31. Not Today Satan*

    #3 I’ve been in a bunch of panel interviews (as an interviewer lately) and none of the candidates have come to the other side of the table to shake my hand. I have always gone to them to shake their hand, but most of the other panelists don’t. I don’t get hung up on it because the set up is somewhat awkward.

    Something that annoys me though is that often the candidate will sort of fixate on the oldest/most senior person in the room. It might just be a coincidence but it annoys me that they seem to pick the “decision maker” (which isn’t even accurate) and decide they’re the only person they need to give attention to or impress.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve been in a bunch of panel interviews lately, too, and the interviewers kind of reach over the table before everyone is seated to shake my hand. I guess small conference rooms are very typical in a public university setting. I’ve been interviewing for several different positions, and the handshaking always seems to be in a small, crowded conference room with everyone leaning in to shake hands over the table.

      1. Howdy Do*

        I am very confused by this (but maybe that’s why I went on lots of interviews and never got a job!) Every interview I go on is a panel interview and I shake the hand of the person I meet who takes me into the conference room where all the other interviewers are seated. They usually go around and introduce all of the people (it’s usually 5-7 people.) Am I supposed to have been going around and shaking their hands? If I can’t reach over the conference table, do I get up while they’re being introduced. Or as soon as I walk in? I never found it awkward to nod and make eye contact with each person as they are introduced but am I just crazy and they’re really all thinking “you should be shaking my hand, dummy!???”

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes, that’s true! I think the safest/easiest way to proceed is to shake the hand of the person nearest to you (or farthest away), and then go down the line in order. But definitely shake everyone’s hand!

      I’ve been a panelist and interviewed with panels, and nothing irritated me more than when someone would go way out of their way to first shake the hand of an older white guy when that person was not the decisionmaker and was also not close to anyone.

  32. Emi.*

    Your doorbell plays music? That can be heard throughout half the floor? For long enough for a song to be recognizable? My word. That sounds terrible.

    1. Alton*

      Yeah, doorbells are pretty annoying on their own even though they’re often necessary. This sounds especially obnoxious.

  33. The Wall of Creativity*

    So. Anybody know where I can get a copy of Disney’s Song Of The South on DVD? Maybe OP1 can ask his HR department.

    1. Zinnia*


      My mom used to sing Zip-a-dee-doo-da to me as a kid. It’s such a fun upbeat kid’s song.

      The first time I saw the original in context I was horrified. Talk about loss of innocence.

    2. fposte*

      You can get it on Amazon. (Obviously not an authorized version, but it’s there.) Same with doorbells that include “Dixie” among their chimes.

      1. The Wall of Creativity*

        Almost worth buying it just to see what pops up as recommendations afterwards.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          As someone who’s been doing a lot of reading & research about Asatru lately….. it’s interesting for a little while, then you start wanting to jump on the “don’t use for recommendations” button real quick.

    3. Candi*

      Last person I knew who got it ordered it from England. That was at least five years ago, though.

      (Rants about Disneyfication of Brer Rabbit stories.)

      Really, read the original Uncle Remus stories if you can get your hands on them. They’ve got the subtle subversive thing going on.

  34. Lady By The Lake*

    #2 — As a lawyer, this practice strikes me as extremely problematic. As I recall, reviews required by the company would qualify as advertising, subject to all of the Federal Trade Commission’s advertising rules. Is there a way to bring this up to Legal or Compliance? You say that you are at a mega huge company, is there a whistleblower mailbox? My guess is that this is something that someone in Sales came up with without having it properly vetted.

    1. GWilikers*

      We do have a legal department but there is no way to contact them anonymously. And even if there was I would be highly suspect. We had an employee survey a few months back that claimed to be anonymous but you had to sign in to the computer with your unique sign on before you could do it? Nah, not buying that!

  35. Employment Lawyer*

    1. My office doorbell plays “Dixieland”
    I am quite familiar with it and I would never play it in my office, but nonetheless it’s important to remember that anti-Dixieland stuff represents something approaching the far edge of social justice. The song itself is obviously harmless (it’s a song) but it is considered problematic by some folks, based on historical associations. (The fact that some college campuses have banned it is not really relevant; college campuses are probably the most left-wing areas of the country.)

    Opposing the use of Dixieland rests on a fair number of somewhat polarizing social justice issues, including the idea that folks need to protect people from being offended by a musical piece. Unless you’re confident that your office manager is sufficiently woke to take on the discussion; and unless you’re willing to bear the fallout; then I would let it go. Even if you bring it up I would argue it only from a business standpoint (“this may drive away POC, liberals, etc., which will hurt our business”) and I would avoid any moral arguments.

    2. My company forces clients to write online reviews before they can complete a transaction
    This is quite probably a violation of the rating service rules, so if you can drop a line to the rating company (NOT from work, NOT on employer email, NOT in a manner which identifies you!) then the issue might stop.

    Otherwise: this is not the sort of thing which is so unethical or problematic as to be completely out of line. You raised a protest; you lost. In the end you should either do what they ask or you’ll need to find somewhere else.

    5. Job-searching when I have long-life weekly doctor’s appointments
    Technically this would be an “accommodation” and it’s probably a reasonable one in the majority of cases. That said not all employers are large enough to be bound by the ADA, and as you can imagine there are some employers who are unusually resistant.

    As a rule, if you know you’ll need an accommodation it is often worthwhile to try and focus on positions where it will be easier to accommodate you. For example those which include some sort of flexibility, and/or those where it appears that you will be part of a larger team. It’s much easier to be one of five middle managers (surely they can spare you for a couple of hours) and it’s much harder to be a store supervisor if you’re the only one and they need to have a supervisor on site.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Opposing the use of Dixieland rests on a fair number of somewhat polarizing social justice issues, including the idea that folks need to protect people from being offended by a musical piece.

      I’m not sure that that’s really a good framing for “should we inflict a potentially offensive doorbell ringtone on our clients?” Okay, so there are people who won’t be offended by it, but is there anyone who would be offended by a doorbell that doesn’t play Dixieland? I can’t really imagine that would be any significant number of people. The risk-reward calculation here comes down pretty heavily on the side of not having a doorbell that does anything other than make a normal doorbell noise. And that is laying aside the moral/social justice issue entirely.

    2. JamieS*

      Agreed on your first point about focusing on the business aspect and not the moral aspect when pushing back. I wouldn’t mention specific groups though because that politicizes the issue.

      It’s also not a wholly accurate statement. I’m white and lean mostly conservative (NOT a supporter of You Know Who) and I wouldn’t approve of a company using a song I knew was considered racist. Putting aside the moral implications (which there are plenty) it shows very poor judgement.

    3. Natalie*

      University marching bands stopped playing “Dixie” 50 years ago. That’s hardly the bleeding edge of social justice.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        Right? If thinking Dixieland is racist is the “far edge of social justice,” then I guess I’m somewhere past the asteroid belt in terms of wokeness.

      2. blackcat*

        Yeah, and, if I’m not mistaken, the universities involved were public universities in the south–not exactly bubbles of liberalism, though perhaps more liberal than the states overall. (Old Miss & LSU are so very, very far from a UC or UMass.)

        There are some things on the edge of social justice stuff. But not playing a song that *glorifies the brutal enslavement of people* isn’t on that edge. My southern grandmother is uncomfortable with Dixie, and has been as long as any of her kids can remember (so the 1960s).

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “something approaching the far edge of social justice”

      I wholeheartedly disagree that objecting to a song that celebrates slavery is the far edge of social justice. And I do not think addressing that “yay slavery!” aspect would be a problem in many businesses.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      It’s worth remembering that Dixieland has been controversial since the 1960s. It’s hardly a new bleeding-edge thing.

    6. neverjaunty*

      “Considered problematic by some folks, based on historical associations” is a pretty euphemistic way of saying the song explicitly, in its lyrics, celebrates slavery.

      What next – telling the OP not to complain lest she come across as one of those libbers?

    7. EmilyAnn*

      I guess any attempt to grow the United States beyond 1865 is the far edge of social justice.

    8. BWooster*

      “but nonetheless it’s important to remember that anti-Dixieland stuff represents something approaching the far edge of social justice. ”
      “Opposing the use of Dixieland rests on a fair number of somewhat polarizing social justice issues”

      Racism and slavery isn’t what I’d call a polarising issue. It clearly was in 1860, but I don’t think it is now.

    9. Lora*

      Righty-o then, I’m gonna get a doorbell that plays Public Enemy. I’m sure everyone will be totally cool with it!

      Holy crap this is a real thing in the world:
      Plays any 24 MP3 files you care to upload.
      Maybe I’ll set it to play La Bamba, Macarena, Friday, Mmmbop, It’s a small world after all, Barbie Girl, My Humps, the Barney I Love You song, Who Let The Dogs Out, the Numa Numa song, Nickelback and Justin Bieber. I’m sure people will be delighted to hear those.

      1. LCL*

        I had the chorus of Nickelback Rock Star as my personal phone ring tone for awhile. Google it-that one song is so freakin’ awesome it makes up for anything bad they have done or ever will do.

    10. Amber Rose*

      “… including the idea that folks need to protect people from being offended by a musical piece.”

      It’s not protecting people from offense to make a small, insignificant adjustment to your behavior so you aren’t being awful. I don’t know you, but I would caution you that the overwhelming number of people who make this argument that you have made, are people who want the freedom to just not give a shit about anyone, and those people are not well received in general. Because the rest of us actually kind of like not hurting everyone around us. We try to get along with each other. We’re tired of assholes.

      It’s the same as how “I’m not racist but…” is a huge red flag for “this person is a huge racist.”

      It’s your call if that’s how you want to be perceived, but I’ll tell you right now, this is not an admirable or desirable personality trait and will not serve you well.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        Plus, this is not a “questionable” or “controversial” piece of music. It’s not like deciding not to play the latest pop hit because some people object to the lyrics. This song has been universally recognized as racist for half a century.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        And it’s a doorbell! I can understand where there are judgement calls to me made if you have a context where needing to decide how to present the antibellum South is relevant, or you’re doing a concert of music from that period or something like that, but if there is any chance that your *doorbell chime* could be controversial, why wouldn’t you change it? Maybe to “ding” instead?

    11. Kyrielle*

      Satiricist Tom Lehrer sent this one up in “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie” in _1953_ (actually, possibly before that – that’s when the album it was first on was released).

      I don’t think it’s bleeding edge when it’s been mocked for more than half a century. Maybe it was in 1953, maybe it wasn’t. But not by now.

      And no, the business doesn’t have to protect people from being offended. But if I walk in a store and an employee says “slavery rocked, we should go back to it!” or uses rude words toward me, I’m likely to leave and not go back. Same thing with hearing Dixieland – if I recognize it, because I have the worst ear. It’s about _not being a jerk_ and it’s about _not wanting to lose customers_.

      Because if I have a choice between shopping at a place that uses a racist tune as their doorbell (even sometimes, if I’m aware that it rotates) and shopping at one that don’t, well, the latter is the way I’ll go.

      1. Kyrielle*

        (As an aside, reading/hearing Dixieland usually summons Lehrer’s song to my head, which means _if_ I recognize the tune, I’m going to end up with the line “whuppin’ slaves and sellin’ cotton” running through my mind. Really, *really* not the line you probably want your doorbell to evoke, even though it’s not in the original song that way.)

    12. Katelyn*

      “The song itself is obviously harmless (it’s a song)…”
      If it’s harmless, then why do racists use it to declare their racism (see Jesse Helms whistling it at Carole Mosely Braun in 1993 in relation to votes on the display of the confederate flag)?

      Pepe the frog is just a picture, but it’s used to signal in-group status within the alt-right. Dixie has been used to signal the same in-group status for racists for decades.

      1. neverjaunty*

        And if it’s just a song, then it’s no big deal to swap it out for another one.

    13. Annabelle*

      To your first point, Dixieland is far from innocuous. There’s a difference between “maybe don’t play that potentially offensive pop song” and “hey, I don’t think we should play a song about how wonderful slavery.”

      Moreover, it’s hardly the edge of social justice to think that the US’s legacy of slavery is shameful and not okay. I realize there’s a vocal subset of the Right that disagrees, but in general I don’t think “slavery is bad” is a particularly partisan stance.

    14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Could you provide the basis for your conclusions regarding #1? There’s a lot of literature and historical data that contradicts most of what you have written regarding the song (including the idea that songs are somehow innately harmless or that this is a social justice “microaggression” and thus not worthy of resolving). I’m curious if there’s other information out there to support your interpretation.

    15. Fisherman2*

      “Opposing the use of Dixieland rests on a fair number of somewhat polarizing social justice issues, including the idea that folks need to protect people from being offended by a musical piece.”

      There are definitely some questions regarding what we should do with pieces of music which aren’t inherently racist but were written by racists or co-opted by racists (see: Wagner, Orff, etc.) – but “Dixie” is pretty open lyrically in terms of what it is saying.

    16. Jaguar*

      It’s probably still a stupid idea for a business to be playing a racist song, but I’m also really worried by the reaction to anything representative of America’s racist past to just excise it. Music like Dixe’s Land is an important and powerful representation of one of the problems in America’s past. It’s not sufficient to just teach people about the history of slavery. Experiencing the remnants of the culture makes it real. Countries that have destroyed their history for political purposes have done so at their peril. The “this is racist and get rid of it” sledgehammer that gets taken to America’s history is really problematic in its own right.

      1. fposte*

        I know what you mean in a larger sense–I hope, for instance, that Hopper College will have plenty of information on plaques, etc., about how it used to be Calhoun College and this is why it changed. You don’t want to pretend that nobody there ever thought Calhoun was cool and ignored Grace Hopper.

      2. calonkat*

        I don’t believe anyone is calling for removal of every mention of such things (such as in history books, collections of historical songs, wikipedia/encyclopedia entries), but rather not using them as if they have no context built in.

        There are many historical songs that have been important to people at various times that have major issues with lyrics. Some can be used because they are NOT associated with “really bad things” (I hope Home on the Range falls into that category because we only use the first two verses, but for an exercise in embarrassment, look up the later verses). Some cannot be used because the songs are tied too closely to “really bad things”. Dixie (Dixie’s Land, Dixieland) was widely viewed as the anthem of the confederacy and as such, cannot be viewed outside that context except in scholarly discussions. A doorbell is not such a discussion.

        1. Jaguar*

          I’m just really uncomfortable with this sort of censorship of art, culture, and history, because at its core is the premise that people are unable put things in their proper context. It’s the same logic that people use to ban something like Huckleberry Finn. There aren’t appropriate and inappropriate places for American history – it’s inseparable from reality of day to day life. I think it’s profoundly dangerous to hide the ugly parts of a culture’s past away and the only way to properly deal with it is to trust the members of a society to be able to grapple with it. I agree that a business shouldn’t be playing that song, but the tenor of a lot of comments here is that the song is racist and should be turfed outright. That strikes me as a pretty scary proposition.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Enh. I think this is a slippery-slope all-or-nothing argument, and not really what’s being said here.

            “We should never sing or talk about Dixie” is one thing, and I would oppose it. “Using Dixie for your doorbell ringtone, part time or full time, is really tacky and tasteless and should be avoided” however? I’m good with that.

            “Your grade school choir should not perform Dixie.” – generally agree. They’re not going to understand the context.

            “Your high school choir, performing as part of an event about the Civil War era, should not perform Dixie” – bull. Assuming you’re doing it in context and with awareness.

            “Your museum / web site / whatever about the Civil War and songs of that era should not include Dixie” – *complete* bull, total erasure, no go.

            “Dixie should not be available to play online, on CD, or anywhere else” – still bull.

            “Having Dixie as your ringtone or singing it out loud on the street may make people view you as either racist or clueless” – that’s just life.

          2. fposte*

            There’s a difference between banning and not including in situations where the context doesn’t merit it. It’s not banning The Story of O not to have it in elementary school libraries. And history is *always* reinscribing layers on other layers–it’s not like we’re not history now too.

            1. Jaguar*

              Yeah. I guess I’m uncomfortable with the ever-narrowing window of where it’s acceptable for Things Deemed Bad to exist because I don’t think the strategy of censorship works to deal with cultural problems. When I hear people talking about a tune on a doorbell causing great offense and it needs to be eliminated, I have to question what’s really going on here.

              It’s the difference between hearing an offensive song and going, “boy, I wonder if the person responsible for that knows what the song is about” instead of, “boy, that’s offensive and needs to come down right now.” The former addresses the problem head on. The latter is avoiding the issue by boiling it down to good and bad and trying to wipe away the bad parts.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I am *so glad* I swallowed my tea just before scrolling down and reading this.

          +1 Internet for you.

          And I don’t even have to replace my keyboard. Yay!

          1. De Minimis*

            Saving throw vs. sleep, otherwise the door drones on and on as your character loses consciousness..

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        As someone said – “Berlin doesn’t have any Nazi monuments, but it has a Holocaust memorial.” The point isn’t obliterating history, but being mindful of what you celebrate and how.

        1. calonkat*

          Countess, your final sentence is such a good statement of what I believe we are all trying to say.

      4. Mephyle*

        It seems to me you’re conflating two different things here. Choosing not to confront clients with a song that celebrates their oppression isn’t the same thing as wiping the symbols of that oppression out of history. People are still free to study those symbols and the history they represent even if they aren’t being used as doorbells and ringtones.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I hear you, and I broadly agree in the way that fposte and Countess Boochie Flagrante have described. But I also think a bigger conversation on how to confront and teach our history, and the ongoing legacy of racism, is beyond the scope of the original letter.

      6. Lora*

        That’s why we have museums. All the more reason to support the Smithsonian. Plenty of music schools do free concerts of historical music. There’s plenty of living history museums where people demonstrate what life was like in Ye Olden Dayes. Auschwitz is still standing and has been made into a museum for this exact purpose.

        I’m not seeing where doorbells fit into a profound understanding of Southern mores through the centuries though. Is it like those lawn things that are plywood cutouts of people’s rear ends bent over and showing their drawers? Or the creepy shadow smoking cowboy? An unfortunate aesthetic signal to hapless passers-by? (My grandmother had the Lawn Sheep and when that got mildew, the Lawn Goose with outfits. It was indeed indicative of a lifestyle and belief system.)

    17. Candi*

      Wow to both Jaguar and Employment Lawyer.

      Dixieland is inherently racist. Using it cluelessly can happen, but once you know, use should stop. This specific issue is not complicated.

      We can remember history without sticking racist crap in our doorbells. That’s what museums, libraries, historical societies, et al, are for. (I’m not including textbooks because most textbooks tend to be awful at complex teaching of history.)

      Here’s the thing: I’m a history nut. I love my history. I’ll read all I can from any era. And it’s amazing how doing so increases all-around understanding.

      I have a couple of impressions of United States Southern slavery. 1) It was weird when held against the larger history of slavery around the world and through time. 2) It was also incredibly vicious, mentally and physically. Few other institutionalized slavery systems through history compare.

      We need to remember it. But excusing racism from our daily lives is a good thing.

  36. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    #1 – This baffles me. First off, a doorbell that plays any kind of music sounds unprofessional and incredibly annoying, regardless if the tune is the most innocent and unobjectionable thing ever. Second, the notion of taking a risk or a stand by including a song that’s even slightly controversial seems… honestly, pretty dumb. What is the reward/payoff/benefit of having that? I only see risks involved. Third, duh, it’s racist and gross. Is this 2017 or 1917?Sheesh.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I tend to associate a musical doorbell with something you’d have at home, not at the office. Especially if it’s loud enough to disrupt all your employees every time it goes off.

  37. Fictional Butt*

    #5–I don’t have much specific advice, but I’d encourage you to spend some time looking through the AAM archives, because it feels like Alison answers a question similar to this about once a week. You are definitely not alone in needing frequent doctor’s appointments, and you are definitely not unemployable!

  38. Debating whether to go anon*

    Oh good GOD #2 is just…ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m laugh/crying bc I can probably picture my company doing this on a smaller scale–they are super big on customer reviews, and as soon as there’s a bad one, they pounce on it and have us (the workers who are NOT social media monitors and have a million other core duties) deal with this nonsense.

    1. CU*

      I can see this happening. Bad reviews will be seen as because the employees are not doing a good job, not because the policy is asinine.

  39. Cleopatra Jones*

    If it’s the same ‘Dixieland’ song that I was forced to sing in elementary school, I’m not sure how they don’t know it’s racist. As a person of color in a southern leaning state, where it’s not uncommon to see people proudly displaying the confederate flag on clothing and trucks/cars, I am still traumatized about being made to sing that in music class.

    As kid, I didn’t understand the words but definitely as an adult I would be oh so pissed if I walked into any business and that’s what I heard as ‘welcome music’!

    I specifically remember these words:
    ‘In the land of cotton, where old times are not forgotten. Look away, look away Dixieland. ‘
    ‘ I’ll take my stand to live and die in Dixie.’

  40. noitisn't*

    “Recently, the company has made this a mandatory part of the sales process — as in, clients have to go on to one of the two websites and rate us before I can finish their transaction.”

    How the heck are you supposed to review something when you haven’t actually received the item or service? Usually you’re supposed to receive what you ordered, then review it. Demanding reviews up front smacks of sheer incompetence – it’s like holding a gun to someone’s head; you better review us well or else!

  41. MCMonkeyBean*

    #2 – They had me do this once at Taco Bell. It wasn’t mandatory but I ordered a dessert and he was like hey, if we ring you up and then you do this survey right now then we can give you that dessert for free.

    It felt very weird and a little unethical from the consumer’s side as well. Especially since some of the survey questions were asking about how my food looked, and I hadn’t gotten it yet. I did understand why they wanted to do it–there have been a lot of times I got a survey at the bottom of the receipt and thought “they were nice, I will do this” and of course I never do.

  42. CU*

    #5, be prepared to walk away if they won’t accommodate you. My job does not allow that unless you are on FMLA, and then you have to take vacation until it’s gone and then take time unpaid. I had to cancel my son’s weekly therapy appointments (he has serious physical developmental delays) because my job would not allow me to flex — and I don’t have a job that should require me to be in my seat for a certain timeframe.

    1. fposte*

      Just for the record, the requirement to use PTO concurrently is pretty common with FMLA, as is the unpaid time. The refusal to flex sucks, though, and I’m sorry.

  43. Hiring Mgr*

    #4, Don’t worry, that’s just how they do things in show business. When I auditioned for Lafeyette in Hamilton, I didn’t even get the courtesy of a canned rejection email!

      1. LBK*

        Hiring Mgr is known for tongue-in-cheek comments but I would love if that were actually true.

  44. OP #4*

    Alison, I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this but this site is suffering a bit from the ads. It makes the scrolling and typing comments really slow. I’m using Chrome on windows. Other sites work fine.

      1. Steve*

        I used firefox and it was faster, but then a fake “virus warning” message took over the whole screen. Not better!

        1. Kriss*

          I have the same issue. the ads don’t bother me but the fake virus warnings really irritate me & nothing seems to block them.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            If you haven’t already, please fill out the ad report form and include your email address so I can contact you for troubleshooting.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please use the ad report form (linked above the commenting box) to send me details — but Chrome seems to be a problem for people the last couple of weeks. Honestly, you can install an ad blocker with my blessing if it’s giving you trouble.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I meant to add — several people said the problem stopped after they cleared their cache and their cookies (at least for AAM). Would you try that?

        1. OP #4*

          Just cleared my cookies and cache from the beginning of time and restarted my browser. Maybe a little better? But still some jerking and freezing when trying to type or scroll. I’ll just deal with it for now or maybe get adblocker at some point.

    2. Allison*

      I finally installed an adblocker on my work browser, because the page was freezing up. I didn’t want to do it, because I worried it would look bad having non-work-related extensions on my browser, and I know AAM wants the ad revenue, but it was that or hold off on visiting the site until it was fixed, and I can’t stay away!

  45. Gov Worker*

    Regarding the Dixieland doorbell, I’m Black, and I have no words. We are not in a post-racial society at all. Please follow AAM’s advice and take a stand against this racial microagression. Good for you to notice and care. It does make me wonder what other racist stuff may be hidden in this company.

    My home doorbell plays multiple songs but it is so easy to select one. Of Dixieland can’t be taken off the rotation, the doorbell should be set to play one jingle only.

  46. Nervous Accountant*

    Re #2–

    This is what worries me–if a customer leaves a bad review, does it reflect badly on the employee?

    My co doesn’t do this but we are really into reviews; we use NPS scores and we send out surveys all the time and if a customer gives us a low rating, it affects our personal NPS score, which is one of the metrics used to measure how well we’re performing. There have been instances where a customer gives a glowing review but a low number, or a complaint about completely separate from us, and both kill our scores, which makes us look bad.

    What drives me even crazier is how it’s calculated–if I get 10 10s (9, 10 are high, 8 is neutral, 7 or below is bad) = 100. I get 1 8 or 7, and my score drops to 60. Another 10 10s and it’ll go back up to 62 at a snails pace. Obv there’s a lot more to the calculation that I’m not too strong on but that’s the jist fo it.

    Now if I’m ever in a position to leave a survey, I will make sure to ask how it works, bc I may be very happy with the person but overall unhappy with the company.

    This is such a horrendous idea, idk what customers are OK wtih this!

  47. Amber Rose*

    OP#5: Many of us have indefinite weekly or bi-weekly doctors appointments. It’s more common than it isn’t, really.

    So while you’re interviewing, try and get a good idea of how the company feels about butt-in-chair time vs work being completed on time. A lot of places are OK with a little less chair time as long as work gets done. But as we’ve seen on AAM, some companies are really intense about butt being in chair from exactly 9-5.

  48. OperaArt*

    For #4, I agree with the other commenters. I occasionally get professional acting jobs, although that’s not my “day job.” Almost the only time I hear back after an audition or series of auditions is if they’re doing a “check avail”* or offering me the job.

    * A check avail means that the actor has made the short list, and they want to see if the actor is still available for the scheduled shooting dates.

  49. 2 Cents*

    #2 — It’s only taken me 4 years of reading this site before a question was asked in my wheelhouse! This is SO against the terms of service for Google and Yelp (, I can’t even.

    First, if all of these reviews are originating from the same IP address bc they’re happening in store, most of them are getting blocked anyway. The company is wasting time because Yelpers without extensive connections or with only 1 or 2 reviews are likely to be blocked. And those Yelpers who *do* have a good profile are more likely to blast the company for this kind of practice. Using an email that can’t be tracked to you, I’d contact Yelp’s Consumer Alerts program to let them know this is going on because they are going to be ticked off. On Google, the most you can do (unless you happen to know someone at the ad agency behind the company) is to flag each review for review by the Google spam team.

  50. Lizzard*

    #2 If a company forced me to write a review to complete a transaction I would either refuse to purchase anything from the company, or purposely give a bad review. I can’t imagine this being a good policy and I’m surprised you’re getting good reviews. Maybe I’m just extra spiteful, but this seems like a policy that will backfire at some point.

  51. Katie Fay*

    2. Sadly, this is why these seemingly useful review sites are now meaningless … the reviews posted are either people furious that they couldn’t complain their way into something free OR friends and family (or otherwise manipulated people) gushing, likely because there is some benefit for them. That your customers go along with this requirement suggests that your product cannot be obtained elsewhere (and your audience is thus captive) so I guess the company will get away with this for awhile (until competitors enter your space or your hold otherwise changes).
    But really, forcing a review a before allowing a transaction? More customers just need to say NO.

  52. Allison*

    #1 Ah man, I was hoping you meant Dixieland the subgenre of jazz music, not the song! Although I was wondering how a doorbell could mimic that style. That would make me super uncomfortable, and I’m not even black. Seriously, just use a plain bell sound like everyone else, no need to use songs.

    #2 I would stay far away from that website. Like others have said, I hate even being asked to review something, you gotta wait until I’ve fully experienced the service, and been able to use whatever the product is for a bit, before you can ask. I like it when websites like Unique Vintage let you earn reward points for reviewing.

    #4 Oh man, super awful of them not to get back to you. Although the process takes so long, maybe you are still being considered? Two weeks doesn’t seem that long when they have so many submissions. Or maybe they send people letters in the mail. Or maybe they are just rude, because a lot of people in showbusiness don’t really have the time or energy to address people they don’t deem to be important.

  53. Kriss*

    OP2: what happens if the customer leaves a bad review? will your bosses refuse to complete the transaction?

    seriously, is I were told that I had to complete a review of the transaction before it was complete then it would not be a good review.

    1. Noobtastic*

      I am now deeply curious as to what company this is. I want to read these reviews.

      “I didn’t actually get the thing, yet, but ummmmm, I’m sure it’s great? Five stars? Can I actually buy the thing, now, please?”

      “I have to write a review before I can complete the transaction. Are they reading these things?”

      “Icky icky ucky ucky. Fine I posted.”


      Also, I’m burning with curiosity about the person whose job it is to read, collate, and report on all these reviews. Mostly, does this person actually exist, or is the company simply relying on the fact of the reviews, rather than reviewing the contents of them? I once worked at a company that did a weird “data gathering” initiative about the popularity of their free soft drinks they provided for workers. Their system was to stop restocking the drinks for six weeks, and at the end, they said, “We have lots of X and Y left, so let’s just restock those. There are not any orange juice, bottled water or colas left, so obviously, they’re not popular, and we won’t re-order those again.” Every single person except the one running this program could see the flawed logic. In other words, I can so see it happening that the C-suite level person came up with this plan, and didn’t think it through to the need to actually check the reviews, but was just satisfied to see the number of reviews going up. And no one with the power to do anything about it has the guts to do anything about it.

  54. Magenta Sky*

    #2: I’d certainly write a review of your company. It would detail how horrible it is, and why I will never do business with them. If I were feeling particularly peckish, I’d print it out and mail a copy to each member of the board.

    #4: Welcome to Hollywood, and reality television. You’re the product, and nobody cares about the product’s feelings.

    1. Noobtastic*

      #2 – I once contacted a CEO, and copied all the other C-Suite people, and told him that 1) I could take out a full-page ad, and 2) It’s neither slander nor libel, if it is true. I got a full refund, immediately, and a personal apology from the CEO. I don’t know what happened to the branch manager who ticked me off in the first place, and I really don’t care, as I never had any more dealings with the company. However, should I be in a position to have dealings with the company again, I am not averse to it, now. I won’t deal with that particular manager, but the company is OK in my books.

      However, since OP2’s situation is a company-wide policy, I’d be burned on the whole company. I’d send it to the C-suite folk, yes, but I’d still have that lingering burn. Some mistakes are harder to come back from. They’d have to do something pretty big to come back from this disgusting policy. I’m not sure what, though.

  55. Red 5*

    I’ve worked in the entertainment industry and done some work for reality shows, and this sounds not even standard, but almost competent because she actually set up an appointment in the first place.

    Wait a few weeks or months and she’ll suddenly email you out of the blue, expect you to snap to attention and work on her schedule and suddenly rush around crazy. And if you dare say no, she’ll get huffy at how you’re disrespecting HER time.

  56. Lisa*

    #5 Have you discussed with your doctor and Coumadin clinic whether home anticoagulation testing is an option? I know many people who test their blood weekly at home and call their physician for updated medication dosing. Maybe your MD would be open to that if you explained the problem.

  57. Emi.*

    I was in the “maybe they don’t recognize the tune, I sure don’t” camp, although I realized yesterday evening that I do recognize it–not as “Dixie,” but as the tune of the Lyrical Life Science song about how “The scientific method is a way to solve a problem, a way, a way, a way, a way, a way to solve a problem.” Now I wonder what all the other tunes are. Oh dear.

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