GBPA winner debuts on The One Show

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Tasting success: Heath Ball, licensee of the Red Lion & Sun, in Highgate, north London, took home the Best Wine Pub and overall Pub of the Year awards at this year's GBPA
Tasting success: Heath Ball, licensee of the Red Lion & Sun, in Highgate, north London, took home the Best Wine Pub and overall Pub of the Year awards at this year's GBPA
This year’s John Smith’s Great British Pub of the Year licensee Heath Ball appeared on BBC’s The One Show last night (10 October), discussing the trials and tribulations of review site TripAdvisor.

The programme highlighted how businesses can buy fake reviews from websites and presenter Joe Crowley spoke with Ball, as well as TripAdvisor themselves and companies that post the false reviews.

Ball, who runs the Red Lion & Sun in Highgate, north London, said: “Somebody for whatever reason decided that they would write a review. They came into the pub, had a lovely meal and [he said] he was stabbed outside.

“I looked at this and I went woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, this never happened, but it took me days to get it taken down from TripAdvisor."

Daily chore

He added: “If everybody is slagging you off behind your back, you want to have a say, so I had to get involved, and now it is a daily chore to see what’s going on.”

Ball had previously told The Morning Advertiser ​operators were often “at the mercy of TripAdvisor”​ to get reviews removed.

He added: “They (TripAdvisor) have guidelines, but most of the time they will say a [negative] review is within their guidelines,” he explains.

“It’s frustrating because it takes minutes for a customer to post an untrue negative review, but it can take days for us to get it removed. The whole site is customer-facing and not really for operators, yet they (TripAdvisor) want you to promote their site and pay for advance listings too.”

Completely ridiculous

FakeSpot, a business that picks out false reviews, claimed that almost one third (30%) of all reviews on TripAdvisor were fake.

Crowley met with James Kay from TripAdvisor who said FakeSpot’s claims were “completely ridiculous”.

The BBC ​programme follows a TripAdvisor fraudster, whose Italian company PromoSalento gave fake online reviews for cash,​ being jailed for nine months in one of the first legal cases of its kind.

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