A word fight between a disgruntled diner and a righteous owner provides humor for those who despise TripAdvisor and Yelp. It also shows a potential method to halt the bitching on these platforms.
After a benign experience in which diner Peter W. was “turned away” from popular Manchester, England Neapolitan pizza restaurant Rudy’s, he took to TripAdvisor to air his grievance. The review gave Rudy’s one star (or whatever TripAdvisor calls their circle rating system) and stated that Peter “won’t try this place again.” Although tame—even mentioning that he was “politely told” there was no guarantee he would be served—Peter’s comments caused a swift response from Rudy’s owner, Tim M. The post speaks for everyone who despises TripAdvisor and Yelp, laying out step-by-step why Peter’s bitching was unfounded.
“You’ve just crucified us for being too busy. We can do absolutely nothing about the amount of time people wish to wait for a table here…there must be a cutoff for taking in more customers or we’d potentially be here until the early morning cooking…”
“Does this really warrant you labeling our restaurant as terrible?? Trip advisor should be about eating the food and enjoying the atmosphere and service… But even though your only encounter with us was considered polite, you’ve used it to vent your anger at us for council parking, your geographical location prior to visiting us, and us being too busy to seat you???”
“Here’s the scenario you would of liked. ‘Hi Peter, oh, yeah let’s just forget about these 200 people who were here in the queue before you… I feel [you’re] likely to one star us so step this way and I’ll seat you straight away.’”
“We’re very sorry for not having space to seat you…. But come on… try to support indys by accepting the scenario or even congratulating us on being so busy (like other customers who’ve been turned away have done) rather than trying to damage us using this stress inducing points based system website.”
While definitely putting Peter (and all reviewers who echo a similar tone) in his place, the effectiveness of such comments bemoans a faulty system. We’ve covered some of the pitfalls of restaurant ratings before, but it bears repeating. Yes, Yelp and TripAdvisor give power to the consumer but they also place restaurants and employees in a moral bind: cater to the Yelp reviewer and succeed or play it loose like Tim M. and hope that your restaurant survives.
Since opening in September 2015, Rudy’s arguably owes some of it’s success to user ratings. It has 4.5 stars (or circles? WTF, TripAdvisor) on TripAdvisor and is ranked the 15th best restaurant out of 1,729 in Manchester. On Yelp, Rudy’s received similar fanfare. So while they’re free to rant against snooty patrons, they also owe their longevity to the same whiny people.
Sixty percent of restaurants fail within the first year and eighty percent don’t make it to five years. As Yelp and TripAdvisor become more powerful, the odds of a restaurant crumbling within this crucial five year zone will continue to depend on user reviews. This sucks for people who work in the industry. As some note, owners and managers give credence to reviews. Workers who forget to refill water at the end of a double shift are also subject to their wrath. “Yelp is a platform for people to try to negatively impact businesses when they don’t get what they want,” writes former waiter Darron Cardosa.
As companies like ReviewerCard have popped up, the fact that Yelp and TripAdvisor represent borderline extortion falls upon deaf ears. Providing perks or “better service” out of fear for a bad review is not a good model, especially in an already-volatile industry.
The best method to combat this unfair system may be to individually respond to each naysayer. In the case of Tim M. and Rudy’s, crushing a pouty diner will not only put reviewers in their place and reduce the impact of a low rating, but will also embarrass the likes of Peter W. across the web. Users may hesitate to whine after a few have been publicly shredded.