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Industry rallies to support restaurant’s lawsuit against TripAdvisor

11 commentsBy Lorraine Heller , 01-Jul-2011
Last updated the 04-Jul-2011 at 10:42 GMT

Related topics: Business, Restaurants, Hotels, Pubs & Bars

The Scottish restaurant Cock & Bull is considering filing a lawsuit against TripAdvisor for failing to remove a potentially defamatory review, and has already gathered support from hotels and restaurants around the country.

Cock & Bull: frustrated with TripAdvisor

Cock & Bull: frustrated with TripAdvisor

The reviewer claimed to have seen the restaurant’s manager refilling designer bottles with tap water, a claim that Cock & Bull says it “completely untrue”.

“Untold damage is done from this review and so many others that are just not true. The whole industry is held over a barrel because of TripAdvisor, and it’s about time we did something about that,” said Mandy Davidson, the director of Balmedie-based Cock & Bull.

Reputation management

Following press reports of the potential lawsuit yesterday, Davidson said she has spent the whole morning fielding calls from restaurants and hotels around the country offering their support.

“We’ve had so many calls from others in the industry who are in the same position, and they are offering whatever help it would take to file a lawsuit, including financial,” she told BigHospitality.

“We think the whole system of TripAdvisor is flawed, the guidelines that are supposed to control what is posted simply don’t work and it means that any number of totally unsubstantiated comments can be posted and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“We don’t even have a tap in view of our restaurant and bar, so how the reviewer saw what he claims is just beyond me. We know it’s not true, but as far as TripAdvisor are concerned, someone’s seen it so it must be true.”

Cock & Bull said it tried to follow TripAdvisor’s process to have the comment removed, but has had no success over the past six months. It then also enlisted the help of KwikChex, an online reputation management company, but was still unsuccessful.

“We want to take this further now, because we’ve just not received any response. We’re still balancing everything out to decide whether to proceed with a lawsuit,” she said.

Zero tolerance

TripAdvisor said it could not comment on either threatened or pending litigation, but added that "we have a zero tolerance policy on fraudulent reviews and have numerous methods in place to verify the legitimacy of the content on TripAdvisor.

"If a hotel or restaurant feels they have been unfairly represented they have two options – they can contact the TripAdvisor Owners Centre and one of our content integrity specialists will investigate this for them. If a review is found to not meet our guidelines it will be removed from the site," said TripAdvisor's Emma O’Boyle.

"All restaurants, hotels and attractions on TripAdvisor also have the right to draft a management response and publicly reply to all reviews – positive or negative. This means that owners can publicly respond to all reviews made about their property and it is something we actively encourage all owners to take advantage of – thanking the positive reviews and explaining the negative. This effectively gives business owners the last word.

11 comments (Comments are now closed)

Time for the Industry to hit back at Trip Advisor

We have recently been hit by a pack of lies in a TA review (Not for the first time). We tried to post a response - TA rejected it on the grounds that it breached the confidentiality of the Reviewer because we used the identity tag he had put against his review!! Their on site provision for contacts on this is clearly and obviously deliberately obscure - I suspect because they cannot cope with the work load. I still have reviews on TA and associated sites which accuse me falsely of giving someone food poisoning (I have a letter from the local health department discounting this) and of deliberately overcharging a guest and 'hoping they wouldn't notice'. I made a mistake which was corrected as the bill was paid!
I have an idea for a project which would hit TA where it hurts and I am talking to the Cock and Bull (and anyone else who is interested) about this. I don't think a law suit is the answer because TA has too much money including the fees for 'business listing' that hotels really cannot afford to boycott because of the competitive advantage they give!
A second line of attack could be mass complaints to the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards about their failure to meet their own set standards and their abuse of their dominant position in the market.

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Posted by Malcolm Hutchinson
15 July 2011 | 12h39

I fully understand..

I have been searching myself as to the "legal right" of TA and sites similar, to allow slanderous, unfounded information to be posted for patrons to pre-judge our industry. Privately owned and operated businesses are having enough trouble struggling through this tough economy. We all work hard for years with our blood, sweat and tears to establish what we love to do. It is wrong for TA and sites like them to allow patrons to post things like "the meat was rotten"...or that the "red paint on the walls made them feels like they were in a bordello"...or my favorite "the waitstafff looked sleezy (our attire is white shirt with tie and black pants what bordello have they been to?) Just simply ridiculous, ludicrous and unlawful slander. Our industry needs to stand up! I support you and your endeavor to right this wrong. Cheers!

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Posted by Karen Midland
12 July 2011 | 02h31

The public aren't taken in by over-the-top TA reviews

If you don't mind me intruding because I'm not a hard working restaurant/hotel owner like yourselves I'd like you to take comfort that those of us who read TA reviews treat them as just one individual's opinion about a particular occasion. When I read about a restaurant, say, I look at the balance of the reviews. If a review is over the top and not balanced I tend to disregard it. And I also go elsewhere, like your own sites, to help me make a decision about visiting a particular place. I have written many positive reviews on TA and where I could I named particularly good staff. My advice to you is to embrace TA, reply to reviews (good and bad) and have a decent website with your own (authentic) reviews. Even if you have any success with TA ( and I doubt you will) some other site will replace it.

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Posted by Paul McHale
09 July 2011 | 09h45

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