The Porthminister Beach Cafe, located in St Ives, was recently presented with an opportunity to purchase a number of sham TripAdvisor reviews.
Mike Smith, the chef and co-owner alerted the press, saying he was offered to buy 840 “good” and positive reviews about his restaurant at the cost of £1 for each phoney critique in an email. He recounted that he had received similar scam packages offered by other organizations in the past.
Mr. Smith is using this situation and an opportunity to call out TripAdvisor to step up and handle the ongoing issue, by making it mandatory for customers to present their legitimate bills, as a source of proof of their visit.
Prior to his appearance on Fake Britain on BBC, his organization addressed the issue saying, “Whilst we welcome real feedback from real customers, we are speaking out against fraudulent paid-for reviews on the site after being offered the chance to purchase some ourselves.”
TripAdvisor defends itself, insisting that it frequently combats against false paid reviews companies that plague its forum. In their statement, they say, “We are strongly against the buying or selling of fake reviews – known as paid review fraud. It is not only dishonest but also illegal in many countries. We are absolutely in support of this chef’s complaints. We feel really passionately about the fight against paid review companies.”
A travel and restaurant website focusing on reviews, TripAdvisor claims to have significantly invested in battling against this scam, having ended over 60 paid review companies in the last couple of years.