"Terrible" review despite saving customer's life

TripAdvisor's advice a "joke" after life-saving staff branded "terrible"

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

TripAdvisor's advice a "joke" after life-saving staff branded "terrible"

Related tags Tripadvisor Review Appeal

A frustrated licensee has vented his anger about TripAdvisor's appeal system after a receiving a “terrible” review despite a barman saving a wedding guest’s life.

Peter Dodman, general manager at the Carrington Arms in Moulsoe, Milton Keynes, is not happy with TripAdvisor's advice - that managers should leave responses to unfair reviews.

He said the online review website "hides behind pearly gates”, and is not accessible enough when business owners have a complaint.

“They think leaving a management response is enough to deal with an unfair review,” he said. “It can look like you just have a bad attitude towards complaints.”

Life saver

His experience came after a customer suffered a heart attack at a wedding reception at The Carrington Arms, only to be saved by an employee.

But one party member booked an overnight stay at the pub for £60, and was outraged when breakfast was not included in the booking.

The room was charged £76 including two breakfasts, leading to the customer’s rating, despite the barman’s heroics the night before.

Licensees have also reported to the PMA incidents of competitors and former members of staff posting negative reviews on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor takes 'no responsibilty'

Dodman said he’s tried to report reviews which breach the site’s rules, but he receives a standard email response.

“I have even been able to prove a competitor wrote a review and still got the same response. It is just a joke really. They take no responsibility for what is on their site saying it is the opinions of individuals and not that of Trip Advisor,” he said.

Dodman believes TripAdvisor owes it to the businesses to deal with them personally.

“Without us as businesses they would not have a business themselves,” he said.

“Just a human being explaining their stance would be enough or some sort of dialogue that isn’t just an online tool. We don’t have the option whether to be part of TripAdvisor and not be trapped by them, as we cannot be removed unless we close our business.

“Our industry has had enough of their arrogant and patronising attitude towards the businesses they feature and they need to be stopped before another business suffers the same fate as many before.”

 TripAdvisor advice

TripAdvisor advised licensees that the “owner response” tool on the website is the best way to deal with unfair reviews.

“From our research the consumers do read them and they can often turn around their view,” a spokesman said.

TripAdvisor encourages licensees to report reviews they believe to be fraudulent on its online complaint tool, which lead to comments being removed.

Reviews aren’t automatically added and TripAdvisor’s system has a method of identifying “vandalism”, and “unusual review patterns”, such as one review warriors who are out to damage a venue.

Manipulate ranking system

This type of fraud is far less common than positive fraud, in which a venue posts positive reviews on its own site to manipulate the ranking system, the spokesman explained.

TripAdvisor defended instances where it does not remove reviews by explaining it aims to provide honest opinion.

“It’s hard to decide what’s unfair when you’re dealing with opinions – that’s the nature of opinions,” the spokesman said. “We can’t have the situation that if an owner disagrees we take it down.”

Research indicates that customers read between 6-12 reviews of each business.

“If you get lots of positive reviews the bad one will get drowned out,” the spokesman said.

TripAdvisor said the sheer volume of appeals makes it impossible to speak to each complainant on the phone, but all are analysed.

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