Barred for writing a bad review – Can reviews be trusted?

By Chris Dawson October 17, 2014 - 2:12 pm

Raj-ReviewsDo you leave reviews online? If so beware, Steve Buckwell of Canterbury has just been banned from his local Indian restaurant after leaving a bad review on TripAdvisor.

It might be understandable if he’d purposefully left a vindictive review, but this wasn’t Steve’s first visit to the restaurant and in the past he’d left them glowing reviews. After a visit in September 2012 he said “Nearly excellent” noting “the sauce was magnificent and went down a treat with the plain raita“.

Another review in 2013 had Steve raving with a 5 star review saying “I died and went to heaven… Ok this is the last time I write a review of this restaurant. I wouldn’t have bothered, but last night the chef must have had stardust glittered over him or something“.

Sadly a recent visit in Spetember this year didn’t go quite as well with a one star review “Nooooo. Its gone right down the pan!! Ok so if you look at my previous reviews of this restuarant you will see that I have raved about it in the past. Then the last couple of times Ive been, its been, you know, ok ish. Put that down to a blip. Last night we went and bloody nora, it was the worst meal I have had for a long long time“. Things weren’t helped by “a table of drunken middle aged louts who were having a burping contest”.

Steve isn’t the only person who hasn’t had the best experience at the restaurant, whilst many of their reviews are (as Steve’s first reviews were) excellent, around the time of Steve’s last review another patron also left a 1 star rating saying “Chef Required Urgently” and noting a disappointing meal.

Of course all restaurants have off days and Steve was more than willing to give them another chance but they barred him. Steve fumes “One poor review and when I tried to book tonight, quite prepared to give them another chance, I was told I was no longer allowed in!

Admittedly Steve’s last review wasn’t great, but it was his opinion and in fairness he noted in the review that he’d left great reviews in the past. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of customer’s being banned for leaving bad reviews, as far back as 2010 we wrote about a couple thrown out of a hotel 2 days into a 3 night stay for simply being suspected of leaving a poor review.

We’ve heard many times of course of online sellers banning buyers from whom they’ve received negative feedback, but in this case they’re only barred from buying from one seller, not from the entire marketplace. Does this transfer to more traditional businesses though? What do you think of a business that bans anyone that has the temerity to complain in public?

This also brings into the spotlight the value of review sites such as TripAdvisor – if customers only leave positive reviews it’s hardly helpful or honest but do you want to be barred for leaving your honest opinion?

We’ve asked TripAdvisor for a comment and they told us: “TripAdvisor was built to give customers a platform to share their honest opinions, good or bad. We strongly believe in their right to do so. Consumers know they can rely on TripAdvisor to help them make informed decisions, which is why millions of travellers keep coming back to the site each month. It is completely against the spirit and policies of our site for any business owner to attempt to bully or intimidate reviewers who have had a negative experience. And when we are made aware of an issue, we address the issue with the business or individual“.

  • Karen Isaac
    7 years ago

    I also had a similar problem with the Secret garden at Mersham,posted on TripAdvisor and was honest and truthful,also said the last time I had gone was great,but they were so rude and condescending to us regarding whether I had told them one of our party was a child or not….which I had but they denied it so my word against theirs.
    They replied to my post saying I was a liar and was not wanting to pay!!! So cross.My daughter whos birthday it was was so angry she put up her iwn post defending me ,even though had never used TripAdvisor and they them made a reply pitching me off against my daughter… so childish,ruined her day will NEVER go there again.Was told TripAdvisor couldnt let me reply again,so had to stay there …and still is but I got two helpful votes so obviously people read between the lines…still cross about it now and that was back in August!

  • northumbrian
    7 years ago

    if we were so annoyed into leaving a bad or negative review we would not want to go back anyhow though were in business and would not try and do another business down , we would simply just boycott the place

  • john
    7 years ago

    “We’ve heard many times of course of online sellers banning buyers from whom they’ve received negative feedback, but in this case they’re only barred from buying from one seller, not from the entire marketplace. ”

    But amazon does ban buyers…..Ebay does not..

    If you do a guff review chances are you will not go back for food / restaurant.

    Tripadvisor is a very good example of a review system. if you actually go on there and read a high rated pubs/B&B’s you will see that some people expect far too much, Sometimes excellent reviews make certain peoples expectations unreal.

    Always love reading the worst rated reviews, worth a laugh lol

  • northumbrian
    7 years ago

    its the mercedes syndrome
    a minor fault on a mercedes is a big deal ,
    on a budget asian car you expect it
    and a lot of people mix up spite with feedback

    • 7 years ago

      Years ago a friend told me that he was about to buy a New Car. It was a Rover 75. I suggested that before he did he visited a Scrapyard and had a look around. The youngest cars in the scrapyard (excluding accident victims) were always Rover Group Cars and the oldest were always Volvo and Mercedes(although you hardly got any Mercedes in the scrapyard that I suggested that he visit). The other makes were spaced out in between.

      Anyway he did not take my advice and he bought the Rover 75 and it was almost continuous trouble from the day he bought it until the day he got rid of it. I tried very hard not to remind him of my advice. I certainly never said ‘I told you so’ not even when he was having to have a new gearbox or engine etc.

  • mw
    7 years ago

    These are private business’ and they operate on private property. They get to choose who they allow in or not.

    • john
      7 years ago

      Some people don’t get that shop don’t have to serve you lol not many shops will take the carp we take on ebay from buyers.

  • 7 years ago

    A year or so ago the Parish Council that I am an Elected Member of asked me to observe the Local Car Boot Sale and do a report. There has been a lot of problems with this Car Boot Sale with vehicles queuing up on nearby roads and in fact main roads and causing traffic chaos.

    I did the report a copy of which was supplied to the organiser of the Car Boot and while everybody who received a copy agreed that it was fair and accurate he BANNED me from the Car Boot Sale(Oh what a terrible disaster…except for the fact that in all the years I have lived here I do not think that I have ever visited it or bought anything there)

    In fact for the rest of the season he operated as per my suggestions and there was no further problems. Yet I was still banned and in fact I am still banned. Yet I have had no intention of going to the Car Boot Sale although it might be that I might see something that I would like to buy. But I have not even thought about going. But I am still Banned,

  • Gary
    7 years ago

    I was once banned from entering an amusement arcade because I had worked out the systems of certain machines and always left with significantly more money than I had entered with. I had not been breaking any law just shifting money from the owners pocket to my pocket. Apparently I had been under observation for a few weeks as the the sound of falling money had become a concern to the management.. Had to start making money somewhere and it was more rewarding than pulling donkeys along the beach!

    Then they invented computers….

  • roger browne
    7 years ago

    This is a really difficult one. I booked a holiday through Easyjet at a hotel at Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt about 18 months ago.I had a look at Tripadvisor and found quite a few very negative reviews. Worried, I tried to change the hotel with Easyjet – no luck. We went and had one of the best holidays I have had in my life – the hotel was wonderful, as was the food and the staff. Impressed I went again about 9 months later – same experience. What does it mean? Well, one thing I have noticed is that when people leave bad reviews they often mention factors that are outside the control of whoever they are reviewing. I noticed that the reviewer who has been banned from the Indian restaurant talked about the other customers in the restaurant that upset him. Can the restaurant realistically be blamed for this? I have worked in mental health for 30 years as a Community Psychiatric Nurse and I have come to realise that what people think is the actual cause of their ‘angst’ very often isn’t…

    • Noel
      7 years ago

      This is the worst article I have read on Tamebay and won’t be back to read any more – one star

    • 7 years ago

      That is the other aspect of feedback…Which side of the bed you got out of that day. Obviously Noel got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning. While I on the other hand got out of the right side this morning. I liked the article and had a laugh over it I give it 5 stars.

    • 7 years ago

      I wrote it and I agree with Noel 😀 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

    • john
      7 years ago

      @roger browne

      rowdy customer – can and sometimes are booted out of various businesses I have been to many places as an example were it states no hen or stag parties. All depends on the establishments standards.

      And to be honest on that alone I would not have gone back to that place lol

    • Mark
      7 years ago

      Restaurants, hotels etc. can change in quality over time (especially with staff and ownership changes).

      Tripadvisor should have a graph showing how the ratings change over time so customers can see if it is getting better or worse (seasonal changes may also be useful, a hotel with poor heating may be good in summer, but bad in winter).

  • northumbrian
    7 years ago

    we can honestly say 99.9% of our ebay negatives are unjustified
    and just about 99.9% of our positives are also just as unjustified
    they really dont give much insight into how things are other than delivery and non delivery

    • Martin
      7 years ago

      In a sense I agree with you Northumbrian, particularly on the negs. The question is what is a Positive. The customer is happy so it is a positive experience for them, although as a seller all I have done is a standard job. That is I have met my advertised levels of performance, which is what I expect of myself as normal. So really we haven’t done anything special, but the Buyer is happy and that is what counts.

      What is strange about that is that I treat all my buyers exactly the same. Shipment is always identical. Every buyer is always refunded or sent a replacement if there is a problem. Almost all buyers are happy with this, and know that if there is a problem they will be treated fairly and at a minimum as proscribed by the law.

      The negs (3 in a year) come from people who are determined to be unhappy, who can’t be bothered to help themselves, or who have unrealistic expectations.

      Neg restaurant feedback is sometimes the same. You can see the customer was determined to be unhappy, or had unrealistic expectations.

      What gives me confidence is when the business responds, and says they are sorry, try to do the best and if there was a problem it isn’t normal.

      Vindictive replies from restaurants just set off alarm bells.

      And frankly there are some customers who need to be told. Went to a food pub a month ago, and one previous customer had complained on Tripadvisor about the East European staff, as if that in itself was a problem. In reality they were helpful, friendly, and served us very well, irrespective of their nationality. Quite rightly, in my view, the pub responded to the aggrieved customer along these lines, and made clear they recruited and treated all equally, customers, staff and job applicants alike, and would continue to do so.

    • john
      7 years ago

      on ebay its more a review of the service as a whole including sometimes ebay themselves or RM. The product is often a peripheral unless it substandard.

      maybe when paypal/ebay split paypal will adopt the defect/dsr system ebay have then we can neg the carp out off ebay lol or dispute there guff service lol

  • Andre
    7 years ago
  • 7 years ago

    To answer the headline question – can online reviews be trusted?

    I think that they shouldn’t be taken as ‘gospel’ but used to provide a guide. Often I spot an establishment with generally good feedback which obtains a low (2 or 3 star) review which is then swiftly followed by an OTT glowing submission which is probably written by a staff member or friend of the owners. This causes me to think that some of the other reviews may not be on the level.

    As with all businesses/sellers if the feedback is generally good taken in the round then I take no notice of the occasional neg/bad review.

  • Steve
    7 years ago

    Our standard practice on eBay is block anyone who causes stupid and unnecessary trouble. Genuine customer issues, questions, etc, OK.

    But assholes who nitpick and cause any “stupid type question or trouble because they are just home from a tough day at work (we always look at the time of message/feedback and 6.30 pm is oftom the most hostile) or back from the pub” types, block the lot – we don’t need their business but funny how later many come grovelling back asking why they could not purchase! Now you know.

    I have heard that there are some companies in similar business area’s who share their blocked list and I support this approach. Idiots make so much work for small sellers, so it maybe worth considering before taking a rant at a supplier you may later need.

    The lesson is think carefully before you cause trouble – you may need that supplier again!

    • northumbrian
      7 years ago

      we block odd, strange ,awkward , irrational buyers for fun on ebay
      though we blame ebay for giving these people the ability to unfairly influence your standing and trading ability and their lack of support with the obvious

    • Steve
      7 years ago

      If you want to make eBay really simple, block all US and Italian buyers. If they arn’t asking for tracking (after paying cheapest economy post) then they are asking “where is my item”, or raising some stupid issue with quality, timing, etc…, all of which was explained in the listing. Proper time wasting “mama-mia” idiots.

      In my experience, the USA and Italy account for about 10% of annual sales yet generate about 70% of time consuming stupid questions and issues.

      Funny thing is Canada is never a problem. Now how is that?

      USA and Italy is a pain. IMO block them all – many sellers already have! 🙂

    • northumbrian
      7 years ago

      It must depend on the product your selling.

      we would much rather sell to the USA we find the Americans much easier to deal with ,generally well educated and polite, the mail service is efficient and reliable,
      we have often considered and blocking the UK

  • Paul
    7 years ago

    I have been banned from Halfords.
    The local branch had a young manager on the till, who in the early days of carrier bag fever a few years ago, added 1p for the bag. I queried the policy. Got a high-handed lecture on the matter and left the shop as cross as the previous buyer that he’d done the same to.
    Exercising my consumer rights, I went back half an hour later, gave him the receipt and asked for a refund of 1p for the returned bag. It was in perfect condition but I felt I no longer required it.
    He was unable to refuse – but was so angry that he banned me from ever entering the store again.
    I later got an official apology and a £25 voucher from them. Had free wiper blades for ages.

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