Monday, September 22, 2014

Turning A Sow's Ear Into Creamy Risotto

re: Bay Area Restaurant takes on Yelp -It's Gone International!

 by Tammy de Leeuw

If you haven't been keeping up with the ongoing saga of the San Francisco Bay area restaurant who decided to take on the suspect business practices of review mega-site, Yelp, then you are missing a textbook lesson in how to use negative press in your favor and make the haters pay.

Botto Italian Bistro owners claim they were being harassed by Yelp salespeople up fifteen times a week, urging them to buy advertising.  The one time they did so, they noticed an upward trend in positive reviews.  As soon as they stopped advertising, however, there was an obvious decline in their rating, with positive reviews being hidden or pushed to the bottom.

This is not the first time I have heard these types of complaints from merchants, many of whom never asked to be on Yelp in the first place.

Despite the fact that courts have consistently said that the practice of skewing reviews in this manner, while it may somewhat despicable, is not illegal, Yelp continues to publicly deny that reviews are rigged relative to advertising reviews.

The reason for this denial, of course, is to maintain the illusion of legitimacy and impartiality that is required if you want merchants to buy advertising on your review site. 

Botto, after demanding that Yelp remove their listing (which Yelp refused to do) came up with a unique idea: offer patrons and would-be patrons a 25% discount for writing BAD reviews.  In fact, the owners stated that they want to be the worst-reviewed restaurant in the entire Bay Area/

This proved positively brilliant, as news outlet after news outlet, some from as far away as Europe and Australia, got in on the act and pushed Botto's review page to viral status.

 I can't wait to go there soon and talk to the owners.  In the meantime, I wrote my own "preview."
Check out the "Best of Botto" at the bottom of the page.

Best of Botto Reviews (you should definitely read all of them when you have a chance)

 Here are just a few samples of the best bad reviews any restaurant has ever gotten...on purpose.
 From Noah M. in North Carolina

Upon entry, me and my wife were greeted by a man wearing nothing but Crocs and a lacrosse jersey. After offering himself as an appetizer, our waiter led us to the broom closet where he attempted to disrobe my wife and I while singing Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money. After explaining we were just there to eat, the waiter became very cross and led us to a table where we were served a delicious seafood dinner. The waiter redoubled his efforts with a free bottle of wine, but when we declined it he poured the bottle on my head and shouted, "who comes to a brothel to eat dinner?!"

My wife divorced me. I blame Botto.