[adning id=”12070″]

[adning id=”12070″]

How SMEs should manage customer complaints about COVID-19 requirements

Some small business owners may feel concerned that they will receive customer complaints when they implement COVID requirements, such as requiring proof of vaccination for their venue or asking patrons to wear a mask.

We’ve put together some scenarios to help you plan ahead and handle potential situations as smoothly as possible.

Situation 1: Your customer refuses to wear a mask

Masks are currently mandatory in all public indoor settings in the Perth, Peel and South West, Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions. There are exclusions for situations such as while eating and drinking and doing vigorous exercise. A suitable mask is a disposable surgical mask or fitted cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth.

The mask-wearing requirement excludes primary school aged students, younger children and people who are exempt. People who have a mask exemption due to a physical, developmental or mental illness, injury, condition or disability that makes wearing a face covering unsuitable are required to produce a medical certificate that certifies this.

Actions you can take

We recommend businesses proactively communicate the need to wear masks at your business premises before customers visit or enter. Consider:

  • adding notifications about the requirement to your website and social media
  • letting customers know when they make a booking
  • placing a poster or notice of the requirement next to your Safe WA/Service WA QR check in posters. Free posters on the need to wear masks and other public health requirements are available to download via the WA.gov.au website.

If a customer debates the need to wear a mask, you can explain that they must comply or leave the premises. You may find it handy to have copies of the following documents in your business about the requirement, and explain that both your patron and your business is at risk of a fine if they are found to not comply with the health directions.

Should a patron become aggressive or refuse to leave your premises, you should remove yourself and your staff from danger and contact the WA Police for assistance on 131 444 (call 000 in an emergency or life-threatening situation).

Situation 2: A patron refuses to provide proof of vaccination

From 31 January 2022, proof of vaccination is required at a number of businesses across Western Australia. You are required to take reasonable steps to check a patron’s vaccination status and request that they do not enter or leave your premises if they are unable to provide satisfactory proof of vaccination.

Actions you can take

Similar to the mask requirements, we recommend proactively communicating the need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before customers enter your premises. We also suggest reviewing and keeping a copy of the proof of vaccination directions so you can refer to your requirements as a business owner.

Communicating the financial risk to your business of not complying with the health Direction could also help the customer see the situation from your point of view. You can also remind the customer that people who threaten, intimidate or are offensive towards businesses asking for proof of vaccination can face fines of up to $50,000 and 12 months imprisonment.

Situation 3: People leaving negative reviews

It is upsetting to deal with negative reviews, particularly when they are come from people who aren’t customers and are leaving a poor review because they disagree with health Directions.

Actions you can take

Planning and preparing responses ahead of time can help you manage negative reviews. It’s always important to respond publicly to any negative review, so that potential customers don’t jump to the conclusion that you are unwilling to help customers.

An example you can use to help you get started is:

Hello <name> ,

As a small business, we are required to follow the COVID-19 requirements outlined by the State Government – including mask wearing and providing proof of vaccination.

It’s disappointing that you felt the need to leave a negative review for us, as these requirements are out of our control. We take a lot of pride in the product and services we provide.

We value our customers and hope they will continue to support us as we navigate these challenging times.

<Your name>

Some review platforms including Google have made changes to their algorithm in response to an increase in fake reviews and have made it easier to report suspected fake reviews. This has made it easier to remove fake reviews and track the removal process, and Google will also automatically remove reviews their system has flagged as spam. Follow the process to flag a review on Google and TripAdvisor.

Situation 4: People placing orders and not paying/collecting

There have been scenarios of patrons placing large orders over the phone (using a blocked caller ID) and then not collecting or paying for the goods in order to damage a business.

Actions you can take

To avoid being caught out by a situation like this, review your payment terms. A simple way to mitigate this situation is to require payment over the phone at the time of ordering and require a phone number to be provided. You may also wish to take the added step of calling that number back to confirm the order.

Another option is to consider accepting online orders, rather than phone orders, where a successful payment is required before an order is fulfilled.


This article is republished from the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) website. The SBDC is a WA State Government agency that supports small business. Please read the disclaimer before relying on this information, which has been developed primarily with Western Australian businesses in mind.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get breaking news delivered
Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?