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    Letters to the editor of the Boston Globe Magazine

    Readers share their thoughts on scathing online reviews, the plight of the North Atlantic right whale, and Shalane Flanagan. Plus, a magazine staffer is honored.

    Complaints and Plaudits

    I enjoyed Neil Swidey’s article (“Attack of the One-Star Whiners,” April 8) very much. It was right on the money! You should have mentioned the group of people I call “professional freeloaders.” They eat out or stay in hotels with the intention of not paying. My daughter rented her vacation home for three nights to such a couple. They arrived and claimed falsely it was dirty and full of spiders. They wanted their money back but needed to stay because they allegedly couldn’t find other accommodations. She sent her caretaker to refund their money. He insisted they pack and leave and gave them a ride to a nearby hotel. The hotel was much more expensive than the house. They later tried to sue her for the price of their hotel share.

    Eileen Padua Dorchester

    Swidey’s article is instructive to consumers and vendors in equal doses. As a lawyer, I regularly see the problems you describe in many guises. Your central message — dealing with the problem in a timely and sensitive manner — is crucial. I also appreciate the subtext of the larger societal problem, namely, the tendency to retreat from timely real human interaction by using various means of electronic communication after the fact.

    Robert L. Holloway Jr.Topsfield

    I don’t know if I’m an outlier, but I have stopped writing rave reviews for local restaurants on TripAdvisor or Yelp. My logic: If people pay attention to my positive reviews, the place will be even more crowded next time I go there. My exceptions to this are if the place I like is not crowded and I want to help it stay in business, or if it was in a location where I am not likely to revisit. I am in the 90 percent of travelers who scan reviews before I go to the airport. Thus, I give more weight to reviews posted by tourists than by “locals.”

    Dennis Noonan Wellesley


    I am a regular reader of online reviews and have posted some myself, mainly including pros and cons of the experience or purchase. I think you left out a reason that people don’t tell the business about their dissatisfaction. I think fear of confrontation and how one will be perceived by others can prevent someone from speaking up for themselves. It takes a belief in oneself, that one is worthwhile and worth fighting for, to confront a business owner. On the other hand, people who are overly self-entitled may also be the ones who write the worst reviews and give businesses the worst time. I took a business course a few years back in grad school and one of the questions discussed was, “Is the American consumer too demanding?” I tended to think yes, having worked in retail. One nasty customer could ruin a whole day or even a whole attitude. To quote one ironic retail manager, “If it weren’t for the customers, this would be a great job!” He had burned out on bad customers.

    Debora Diggins Beverly

    On the Ropes

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    It’s sickening to think that the right whale may become extinct (“End of the Line,” April 15). Luckily, I took my grandson to see them off Gloucester a few years ago. I can imagine a world without polar bears, right whales, rhinos, etc. That is where the world is going.

    Norton Halber Marblehead

    Thank you so very much for this informative article about saving the North Atlantic right whale. Thank you to the lobstermen who took on the responsibility to investigate new ropes for their traps. What you are doing for these animals is part of your legacy as stewards of the planet.


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    Sharing Shalane’s Success

    Shira Springer really touched the high points in her article about Shalane Flanagan, a marvelous, disciplined runner (Perspective, April 15). She even mentioned her parents’ achievements, including her mom’s world record (the first woman to run under 2:50). We have been hosting several early female marathoners in our Cambridge home, including her mom Cheryl (Bridges) Treworgy, Nina Kuscsik, Jacqueline Hansen, and Eleonora Mendonca, and we all agreed (as we all grabbed for the Globe Magazine), what a complete story Springer had written about Shalane. It really got us excited.

    Sara Mae Berman, BAA women’s winner 1969, 1970, and 1971 Cambridge

    The Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Globe Magazine staff writer Neil Swidey with a Sigma Delta Chi Award for a piece he wrote for the magazine last year. Swidey received the Public Service in Magazine Journalism Award (regional/local circulation) for “Trump’s Wall and Prescott Hall” (February 5, 2017), an illuminating narrative about a nativist crusade against “undesirable” foreigners led by Boston’s Prescott Hall a century ago. This is Swidey’s third public service award, and seventh award overall, from the journalism society.

    CONTACT US Write to or The Globe Magazine/Comments, 1 Exchange Place, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109-2132. Comments are subject to editing.