A man who told the owners of the Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento, Calif., that he'd write a "scathing" review on Yelp unless they gave him a $100 gift card had his extortion scheme blown to bits when the store owners called his bluff.
This sort of thing is a lot more common than you'd think.* And it makes sense. Considering the fact that more and more people are are basing their purchasing and dining selections on online reviews, a particularly bad review could be the death knell for any establishment.
So is there any way for a business to defend itself from bogus online reviews? Not really.
Maybe that’s why some people are starting to realize that they can threaten business owners with bad reviews in hopes of scoring a payout.
Watch the CBS Sacramento news brief:
Earlier this month, the Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar received a complaint from a customer who said the restaurant gave him food poisoning. The customer demanded a refund.
“We don’t do refunds but we’d be happy to refund your money in the form of a gift card from any restaurant in town,” Bar co-owner Sonny Mayugba said he told the customer.
However, the bar’s co-owner says the customer took it a step further.
“I’ll be doing a scathing review on you on Yelp,” he said the customer told him, “and I’ll report you to the health department. But if you give me a $100 gift card, then I won’t do it.”
“That’s flat-out extortion,” Sonny responded.
Again, is there any way for business owners to avoid this type of thing?
"Yelp says it allows users and business owners to flag reviews that violate their terms of service. And business owners are able to respond to any reviews that are posted about their company on the Yelp website, " CBS Sacramento's Ben Sosenko writes.
But while business owners are ultimately unable to do anything about what is said online, Sonny said owners still have to push back when they know they're being taken for a ride.
He refused to give the alleged food poisoning victim anything.
“I hope this inspires other retail establishments and restaurants to push back on extortion,” he said.
(H/T: The Consumerist)
*When we waited tables, we saw this sort of thing happen all the time. Considering that sites like "Yelp" have only increased in popularity since we left the industry, we can't imagine things have gotten any better.