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Lisa Shock

TripAdvisor Makes a Garden Shed the Number 1 Restaurant in London

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Wow.  I mean I knew some reviews were fake....but not to this extent.

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I'd humbly suggest that these are 100% genuine and earnest reviews. Of a fake restaurant. Important distinction!

 

Also I feel that TripAdvisor's sketchiness is more than compensated for by the author's brilliance. I'd make a special journey to dine at the Shed.

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There is a long and glorious history of this kind of thing. Fake reviews of fake books, movies, music albums, concerts  etc. Followed by people claiming to have championed the artists in questions long before they were "popular". Nothing new.

TripAdvisor is, however, full of nonsense. The entries for my city bear scant resemblance to reality.

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An innkeeper of my acquaintance had a traumatic six-month interaction with TripAdvisor shortly after she bought the inn in question from the original family. One of her customers apparently used the hotel's own wi-fi (gasp!) to post a positive review of the place. TripAdvisor immediately suspended the inn's listing (this, in the midst of her first tourism season after buying the place) because *obviously* this was a fake review posted by the inn itself. 

 

Because, you know, anybody receiving excellent service would automatically tell himself, "Geez, two days from now when I'm someplace else, I really should log onto TripAdvisor and says something nice about these folks."

 

It took a great deal of back-and-forth before TripAdvisor finally backed down, and by then she'd been invisible on the site for most of her first season. They're flourishing now, due to some canny marketing decisions, but it was a stress she really didn't need as an introduction to the business. 

 

I know others in the hospitality industry (innkeepers and restaurateurs) who've had guests try to shake them down for freebies and/or discounts, lest they be hit with a negative TA or Yelp review. In a couple of cases the guest has made good on that threat, to the detriment of the operator. Yelp itself famously shakes down hospitality operators, surfacing positive reviews for those who spend to advertise with the site and negative reviews for those who refuse. That's not hearsay or an urban legend, that's been tried in court and Yelp has won. The courts essentially ruled that they could continue with their 21st-century take on the classic "protection racket" ("Nice reputation you've got there...it'd be a shame if it burnt down..."). 

 

I recognize that those sites, and similar operators such as Foursquare, provide a valuable service. Unfortunately they also exercise power that's disproportionate to their accountability. 

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