When review sites go bad

Many businesses see review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp as both a blessing and a curse.

Such sites can be crucial in attracting new customers who see a stream of glowing reviews for a hotel or restaurant. On the other side of the coin, if your business isn’t so hot, a deluge of poor reviews with keep customers away in droves. In fact, even one bad review among hundreds of five star assessments is often enough to deter many prospective customers.

The comedian Michael McIntyre had a ten-minute stand-up routine on Trip Advisor, in which he describes how he was put off a hotel because one previous visitor complained about the quality of the towels. That’s the power of review sites – even an average review scares away bookings.

But what happens when review sites go wrong. That’s the question that one restaurant owner from Yorkshire is asking after Trip Advisor removed 280 positive reviews for his establishment which it deemed to have been suspicious.

He’s in dispute after encouraging punters to review his newly-refurbished eaterie which Trip Advisor insisted were not authentic.

And here the two sides diverge. It’s very wrong to post fake reviews to these websites – either to promote your own business, or to criticise that of a competitor – because sooner or later you’re going to be found out. The owner says he’s done nothing wrong and is prepared to go to court to prove his innocence. Trip Advisor, on the other hand, say they’ve analysed the rash of recent reviews and say that they’re fake.

So what can you do? You first port of call is a reputation management service such as Got Juice. We know exactly what to do in these cases, and the right people to talk to. If you’re in the right and have the evidence to back it up, you’ll have your reviews back in no time.

Most of the time, these episodes are “false positives” where alarms bells have been set off by automated systems and a human moderator has over-reacted. Computers and people aren’t perfect, so mistakes slip in from time to time. With the experts fighting your corner, you needn’t worry if things go wrong.