TripAdvisor is feared by many business owners. However, a woman has made a public apology in the Times newspaper’s announcement page to the Good Life, a vegetarian restaurant in Shrewsbury, after admitting to writing and posting fake online reviews on TripAdvisor and other websites.
The apology came after the police contacted Helen Griffiths, who had tracked her IP address down to her work place in Warrington. Griffiths was issued with a caution after it was discovered that she made false complaints that there was hair in her food and the staff were cold and not attentive.
She made the comments and reviews because of a personal grudge, after a legal dispute with the restaurant’s owner, Joanna Langfield, a previous partner of Griffiths’ husband.
Griffiths, who is a marketing manager from Salford, admitted in the Time’s announcement page, “misrepresenting the quality of the food and service of the restaurant which, from other reviews and nominations, does indicate an exemplary track record.”
Langfield, claimed that profits at the Good Life fell by 25% because of the negative reviews, which is a significant amount with the economic downturn and the cost of supplies, staff and other expenses like restaurant insurance is high. Langfield said to The Times, “It started off quite extreme. Someone posted a review calling me ‘arrogant’ and making other nasty references. TripAdvisor actually took one down.
“One of her last reviews was on a local site, and the chap who ran that was really helpful. The IP (internet protocol) was linked by police to Warrington, which is where Ms Griffiths worked.”
The bad reviews have now been taken off the websites, including the ones on TripAdvisor, however Langfield said she had difficulty to get some of the reviews removed. TripAdvisor said in a statement,
“We’re obviously appalled to hear about this incident last year and urge any business who feels they may be a victim of bullying to contact us immediately. We have a zero tolerance approach to this and will investigate every issues fully.
“Since this issue we have made significant steps forward in how businesses can contact us. Previously they haven’t always been able to pick up the phone and speak directly to someone on our team. We agreed we could do better, so we have now expanded our customer care team and in November 2011 set up a dedicated toll-free UK phone line with a UK-based customer service team so that businesses can reach us quickly and easily. This is a major update to TripAdvisor’s customer support program following the appointment our Director of Customer Care in March of last year (2011) and part of a broader effort to make our service more responsive.”