Posts Tagged ‘TripAdvisor’

Broadway Hotel ‘fines’ guest for bad review

November 18, 2014
Broadway Hotel

Broadway Hotel

Blackpool is not a location I would wish to visit, even less stay at Broadway Hotel if I did.

Bad hotels do not seem to learn. If your hotel is bad, improve it, do not threaten or intimidate guests who post bad reviews.

In the past, if a hotel was bad, guests would tell their friends and family, the girl at the checkout, the girl behind the bar, now by means of social media and review sites like TripAdvisor, they tell the world.

And with social media, if they try to intimidate guests, do they really think they will get away with it?

Union Street Guest House, a hotel in New York tried, and they were hammered on social media.

Now it is the turn of Broadway Hotel in Blackpool. They decided to ‘fine’ a hotel guest for writing a bad review. The first the guest knew about it, was when they found £100 had been deducted from their account.

Unauthorised withdrawal from an account is fraud. I trust there will be a criminal prosecution.

Broadway Hotel claim it was part of their terms and conditions, a no bad review policy. Laughable really. Trading Standards are now investigating for unfair terms and conditions.

Tony Jenkinson who stayed at the hotel and had £100 fraudulently deducted from his account, was on The World Tonight, BBC Radio 4 late night news. He said the wallpaper was hanging off the wall, the carpet was stcky, but he could handle that. He said there was no running hot water, he told reception, they said they knew. He said he pulled out a drawer, and it fell to bits, he told reception, they said they knew. He described the hotel as “a dirty rotten stinking hovel”.

But his is not the only bad review. Check out TripAdvisor. I have never seen a hotel with as many bad reviews as this hotel. It is amazing it is still in businesses.

TripAdvisor take intimidation of reviewers very seriously, or so they claim. Will they be taking action?

Did they really think they would get away with it? This evening, they were trending on BBC News, trending on the Telegraph.

Fake reviews on TripAdvisor

September 2, 2012
Nicolas Tavern

Nicolas Tavern

TripAdvisor has its use, but its utility and credibility will be as nought if it fails to root out fake reviews.

The founder of TripAdvisor claims they have a top secret algorithm to eliminate fake reviews. This is nonsense as it is clearly not working, and it is doubtful such an algorithm could exist.

I have become quite adapt at spotting fake reviews because they stick out like a sore thumb.

There are three types of fake reviews

  • trolls spewing their venom
  • rival dishing the competition
  • proprietors generating glowing reviews

You can always tell a good place, they love what they are doing, they take a pride in what they are doing.

Nicolas Tavern, for several years, No 1 on TripAdvisor, then a few fake reviews, one so over the top that it was laughable, dropped to No 10. I am pleased to say a few good reviews and now up at No 4.

The food at Nicolas Tavern is excellent, sometimes the service a little slow when busy, but what is the hurry?

Until this summer I had not eaten at The Keystone since last year. Reviews were bad. Had it changed hands? I asked the question when I ate there this summer. No it had not changed hands, and yes they were aware of the bad reviews, which they put down to either trolls or rivals dishing them out of jealousy.

My lunch was excellent, as I expected it to be. I have eaten there several times this year and each time the food has been excellent. Yes, the service is at times iffy, and yes The Keystone are aware of this.

Last week I found a lovely coffee shop in Godalming. The people running Café Mila were knowledgeable about where they sourced from, loved what they were doing. Two negative reviews stuck out like sore thumbs as they bore no resemblance to reality. What was even more interesting is that both reviewers were located in Godalming and for each reviewer it was their only review. These bad reviews were not only negative, they were hate-filled vitriolic attacks. Rivals dishing?

At the weekend I was in Alton and popped my head in O’Connor’s Secret Garden. A charming restaurant, a lovely garden out the back, regulars greeted as old family friends, Peter O’Connor an excellent chef. O’Connor’s Secret Garden one of the best places to eat in Alton, and yet, two extremely negative and vicious reviews, even the lovely little garden attacked.

Chef Heston Blumenthal is the latest to fall victim to trolls. He has been accused of giving diners food poisoning. It happens, things go wrong, and diners do get food poisoning. Not being there and fallen ill I cannot comment on the validity of the claim. I would though add the account of food poisoning does have a ring of truth and does not stand out as a troll.

Glowing reviews, all singing from the same song sheet, then I smell a rat.

Steens, a restaurant where the sign outside was dirty, the entrance was dirty, and the menu outside was typical white van chiller food to be found in every bad pub in England, and yet for a while it was No 1 on TripAdvisor. Knowing that there were far far better restaurants, it was seen as a sick joke by surrounding businesses who told me it was a place to avoid and that proprietor wrote his own reviews. I do not think he did, but the glowing reviews gave every appearance they were being orchestrated. I posted a review noting my observations. It was deleted a few days later.

A pub in Winchester. I would not say it was the worst food I had eaten, but it was not good. I checked later on TripAdvisor. Glowing reviews that bore no resemblance to what I had experienced. All singing from the same song sheet, all saying more or less the same thing, most knew the name of the chef!

Real TripAdvisor Reviews offer to post glowing reviews for $20!

To some extent TripAdvisor is self-policing, fake reviews can be reported, but how often do people report (and there is not sufficient space to explain why), what action is being taken?

But even where the review is genuine, there is the problem of competence. Would someone who eats at KFC or McDonald’s be comment to review restaurants?

We should also recognise that bad hoteliers, bad restaurateurs deserve bad reviews (that is what reviews are for), and they will be the first to complain. If they do not like it, the answer is simple, improve your service.

If I visit a bad place, I will not hesitate to say so, but it will be a factual account of why it is bad, not an exercise in hate.

Wikipedia lacks any credibility because no knowledge of the subject is required to edit a page.

If TripAdvisor fails to get its act together, it will be like Wikipedia, lacking in any credibility.

I know restaurants who are thinking of pulling out of TripAdvisor (if that is possible) due to the negative impact of fake reviews.

Top Story in Vacation Nation (Monday 3 September 2012).

Lauren Weinstein’s Guide to Trolls

September 2, 2012

1) Trolls virtually always appear very suddenly, like a big, painful, pus-filled pimple. Typically they emerge (like a daemon from Hell) as a provocative comment on your thread, and it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of this individual. They are not to be confused with spammers, who represent a related (but largely orthogonal) class of social networking vermin.

2) Your first impressions regarding whether or not a comment has been generated by a troll will almost always be accurate. That is, if your gut reaction to a comment is that you’re being trolled, you will likely be very accurate in that appraisal. Outrageous and/or highly provocative statements designed to trigger emotional responses are their hallmark. Occasionally you’ll come up against a troll who takes a slower approach and attempts to draw you into a what appears to be a reasonable argument, but this is quite rare since most trolls aim to do maximal damage to as many threads as they can, as quickly as possible.

3) “Professional” trolls (“pro-trolls”) usually prowl public G+ postings explicitly looking to spread disinformation and propaganda — or even “simply” to disrupt threads — in furtherance of specific goals, often politically or racially oriented. Some of these trolls work in organized packs, sometimes with serious funding behind them as systematic social networking disruption agents. Despite the tone of their postings, professional trolls are usually not actually nuts or idiots, and are very goal-oriented.

4) Freelance (“opportunistic”) trolls usually work alone, and unlike “professional” trolls, they often *are* nuts and/or idiots. Their comments will be at least as provocative as those of pro-trolls, but may tend toward higher levels of wackiness that expose their lack of true goal orientation.

5) Both in the case of freelance and pro-trolls, a quick examination of their G+ profiles and postings is usually extremely useful to verify their status prior to blocking. Dead giveaways of their “trollness” include either a stream of nearly identical postings, a variety of postings that tend to all be concentrated within the “troll zone” of inanities, or very few (even zero) postings of their own at all, the latter suggesting that they rapidly create new accounts as their previous ones become heavily blocked.

6) Without exception, trolls should be *immediately* blocked when detected. Unless threats or the like are involved, it is usually not necessary nor appropriate to also report their profiles. I recommend blocking troll profiles quickly and mercilessly, and not even bothering to flag the individual comments, again unless threats or other illicit behavior are involved. In cases of threats, etc., you may want to flag the individual comments, then block and report the troll’s account.

7) It is usually good practice to delete a troll’s comments from your thread, to avoid later legitimate commenters being drawn into the maelstrom. You may also wish to strongly consider deleting any responses to the troll that fed the beast, especially since leaving those other comments in place after deleting the troll’s comments tends to leave a disjoint comment flow that can be difficult for later readers to understand.

8) Whenever you block/report a troll, and/or delete their own comments and possibly other related comments, consider adding *your own* comment on the thread explaining what you have done. A note as simple as “Troll blocked and associated comments deleted” will usually be adequate.

9) Most importantly, show trolls absolutely no mercy. Block them immediately. Your threads are your responsibility, and you are under no obligation to host comments designed as weapons of destruction. Individual trolls rarely return — they usually move on quickly to greener pastures. Their entire purpose is disruption through asymmetric attacks. You should feel absolutely no hesitation at blocking them, and no compunction for having done so. The saying *Do Not Feed The Trolls* (DNFTT) holds true. Do not engage them in conversation. Do not argue with them — you might as well be arguing with a roll of toilet paper. Block them now. Report them if necessary. Clean up any damage they’ve done to your threads by removing their comments and related comments that could waste the time of other readers.

– – –

The wonders of social networking can only stay wonderful if we take individual responsibility to moderate, manage, and curate our threads, on Google+ or anywhere else.

This means taking our roles as thread creators very seriously, and not enduring the presence of trolls on our threads at any time — not for any reason. No excuses. No exceptions.

Together we can help make Google+ as troll-free as possible. Human nature being what it is, we will never be entirely successful at this effort. But we can certainly give it the ol’ college try.

— Lauren Weinstein

– – –

Although written specifically for Google+ Lauren Weinstein’s Guide to Trolls is equally applicable to all social media.

Trolls are the bane of the internet, nasty pathetic creatures who crawl out from under stones and delight in making other people’s lives a misery.

One troll, for reasons unknown, targets people linked to Paulo Coelho, he would send hate tweets on twitter, post nasty messages on facebook.

On TripAdvisor trolls post nasty reviews, though there is also a problem with rivals dishing the competition and glowing reviews by mates of the venue being reviewed.

There is a very simple rule for trolls: Do not engage, report and block.

Do not feed the trolls! If you engage, you encourage them and inflate their self importance.

On TripAdvisor report fake reviews.

Trolls never seem to learn. Periodically I have trolls, I block and report.

Trolls post messages on this blog (or try to). They get blocked. Any negative or abusive post gets blocked.

I have no problem with anyone posting a differing view. Occasionally they highlight I have made a mistake or got something incorrect or overlooked something.

Fake (best money can buy) reviews

August 26, 2012

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted – that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

Todd Rutherford placed fake book reviews

Todd Rutherford placed fake book reviews

Does anyone read a book based on a review?

I do not as book reviews are meaningless.

Often they are pretentious crap. Try listening to the pretentious crap on BBC Radio 4 Front Row (especially when presented by Mark Lawson) and you get the idea. A programme that should have been scrapped years ago, as too often scraping the bottom of the barrel to pad out the programme.

A deposit in the Favour Bank. You write a good review of my book and I will return the favour.

A hatchet job, too often a hack who cannot write, and writes a bad review out of sheer spite.

Too often the reviewer has not read the book, or if they have they have completely failed to comprehend what the writer has had to say, but they are on a deadline, they are paid to churn out so many words.

The blurb on the back often bears no resemblance to the book. Did the person who wrote the blurb actually read the book? Probably not.

Books are hyped, could be baked beans, a commodity to be flogged, pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap (as Waterstone’s does).

An excellent example of a hyped book is 50 Shades of Crap.

There is now a new category, the paid for book review. A bit like you have an essay to write, you are not up to it, well why not pay someone to write it for you? It is called cheating.

Step forward Todd Rutherford, he offers the best book reviews money can buy. He even set up a website offering his service. He does not only write the reviews, he will place them for you.

He used to try and get books which his company published reviewed. Hard work. Why not do the reviews yourself, cut out the middleman? Why not go one step better and offer a positive review service?

At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Todd Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

Before he knew it he was raking in $28,000 a month!

According to  Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago, the wheels of online commerce run on positive reviews

The New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell wrote in 1964:

If there was anything the human race had a sufficiency of, a sufficiency and a surfeit, it was books … the cataracts of books, the Niagaras of books, the rushing rivers of books, the oceans of books, the tons and truckloads and trainloads of books that were pouring off the presses of the world at that moment … [so few would be] worth picking up and looking at, let alone reading.

Most of these books went to be pulped.

What Joseph Mitchell saw as a torrent, was a mere trickle to what we have today, a flood of books of Biblical proportions, thanks to self-publishing, now hyper-charged with e-publishing. And I am not counting blogs and tweets.

In 2006, before Amazon supercharged electronic publishing with the Kindle, 51,237 self-published titles appeared as physical books, according to the data company Bowker. Last year, Bowker estimates that more than 300,000 self-published titles were issued in either print or digital form.

It seems lost on those churning out this rubbish, that a) you have to be able to write and b) you have to have something interesting to say.

In theory a good review sorts out the wheat from the chaff. The job of a good editor in the days of gentleman publishers, when publishing was owned by people who understand and appreciated good literature, now we have the Murdoch family and other spivs and philistines out to make a fast buck with the latest best-seller, me-too copycat novel, and the pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap mentality of chains like Waterstone’s.

Job opportunities for hacks are a rarity these days with provincial papers going under and salaries no better than flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

With the service he was offering Todd Rutherford soon realised he needed help. He advertised on Craiglist for hacks. Within 24 hours, 75 wannabe hacks had taken the bait. He was offering $15 for a favourable review, a less than favourable review got half that. No surprise then the hacks churned out glowing testimonials for the books they were paid to review.

One of the reviewers earnt herself $12,500 in a few months. It goes without saying she did not read the books. She is co-founder of a PR company!

The end came crashing down when a young Oregon woman Ashly Lorenzana wrote about life as a working girl,  Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort. She did not feel she had got what she had paid for and said she could get a better service for $5.

The website is now for sale.

But not deterred, Todd Rutherford is developing a service where, for $99, he blogs and tweets about a book.

The word fraud comes to mind.

That is where bandcamp is a big plus. You listen, you decide, and if you like, you can download, share with your friends.

TripAdvisor is plagued by fake reviews and not enough is being done to weed them out.

There are glowing reviews, all singing from the same hymn sheet, clearly put there at the behest of the owner or management of the business.

There are bad reviews, owners of rival businesses dishing the competition.

Then there are the trolls.

There is also the problem of competence. Is someone who eats at KFC or McDonald’s capable of writing restaurant reviews?

Spam tweets offer twitter followers for sale. I block and report as spam. Any suspicious followers on twitter I delete.

If you have something worthwhile to say, people will follow you, they will re-tweet what you tweet. If you do not have anything worthwhile to say, do not tweet.

Tweetlevel is a better measure than crude number of followers.

All the reviews here, opinions, are genuine, nothing has been paid for!

TripAdvisor, fake reviews and does it matter anyway

May 17, 2012
Nicolas Tavern

Nicolas Tavern

I was stopped tonight nigh on midnight as I passed by Yiamas, one of the better bars in Protaras in Cyprus.

I was stopped by George, the owner of Yiamas, he wanted to tell me Yiamas was No 1 bar on TripAdvisor. What is TripAdvisor he then asked?

He has learnt that Yiamas was No 1 bar from customers who had sought him out.

Strange that, as Trip Advisor has no category for bars! It lists hotels, restaurants, and attractions, but not bars. Yiamas is listed as an attraction!

If nothing else, it shows TripAdvisor works, of a sorts, but also that its categorization is wrong. A bar is not an attraction, not unless you are an alcoholic, a bar is a bar. An attraction would be the Dancing Waters, the boat trips, the water sports.

TripAdvisor has recently been rocked by scandal, fake reviews, reviewers paid to write favourable reviews, rivals dishing rivals.

Fake reviews are fairly easy to spot. They stand out like a sore thumb, be they good or bad.

Nicolas Tavern is a very good place to eat. You can see this from the reviews, and yet there will occasionally be a review that says it is bad.

One illiterate review was so over the top it screamed ‘fake review’.

Go to McDonalds instead!!: If ere was a way of dragging you back out of this restaurant before you stepped in then I wish someone would have do eat to me. As I waited and I waited and I waited and waited and waited to be served, my very British-ly polite boyf wanted to wait to not be rude, but my anger just expanded the longer I was left. Once we did order, and we waited and waited and waited, the surely wife of the owner threw our food at us and grunted in disgust as tho she was doing us a favour. The OLympus is far better across the road and wish that we had gone there for our last nit as that was the best restaurant all holiday! And the Greek ready-meals in tesco are better than this place! The rose was nice though!

Go to McDonalds instead .. waited and I waited and I waited and waited and waited to be served … surely wife of the owner threw our food at us … Greek ready-meals in tesco are better …

To compare McDonald’s with a real restaurant? Nicolas not in the height of the season, therefore not a long time to be served. Wife of Nicolas does not work in taverna. No staff would throw food on table, if they did they would be fired. Olympus does not have the traditional wood-fired clay oven. Ready meals at Tesco!

The same person had reviewed Vangelis Apartments and said they were dirty. They are not. They may have drunk English from the bottom end of the tourist market, there is big problem with noisy bars outside, but Vangelis Apartments is not dirty.

The same person had reviews for 16-17 May of Northampton, London, Protaras and Dubai!

When all the reviews say the same thing, sing from the same song sheet, you know something is wrong, probably told what to say by the owner.

As George had no idea what TripAdvisor was, other than he was No 1, and he only knew that because customers told him, then at least we can assume he has not told the customer what to say.

George asked me how was Nicolas, busy? Yes, I replied. George expected no less.

TripAdvisor has to get its act together and stamp out fake reviews, otherwise it will become one more worthless web resource like wikipedia.

Top Story in The Cyprus Holiday News (Sunday 20 May 2012).