Its really frustrating to be targeted by a campaign of abuse by anonymous sources. This is exactly what the restaurant has been subjected to recently in a deliberate attempt to damage our business via the Tripadvisor website. Should I just ignore it and rise above it ? Maybe.
I like the idea of independant review sites but I genuinely have serious doubts as to how they can be valid, it is just far too easy to manipulate and fake reviews. I think they cannot be entirely ananymous without any review being suspect ... and I say this as a restaurant with many more positive than negative reviews.
Why the campaign ? I'm not sure, perhaps a member of staff that I have sacked or perhaps a competitor or someone I have upset ... I don't really know. I have only sacked staff go for reasons of incompetence, non-attendance (or both) so I guess there might be some resentment there. My local competition in town I have a good working relationship with and we share after work drinks so I certainly don't cast any aspersions their way ! We have had a few customers who take extreme umbrage, out of all proportion, to how we cook and/or serve food at the restaurant and to be honest I'm fine with them posting a negative review as we have a very defined style that will not suit everyone. We do go to a lot of effort to be clear about the style of the restaurant via website, sample menus and photos.
How do I know its a campaign not actual issues ?
- The dishes that are referenced we don't serve (Rump steak)
- The layout of the restaurant has been made up ('the cutlery was spilled outside the toilets' ... the loos are on another floor altogether)
- Conversation that didn't happen ('Matt laughed at a fly in my salad')
Don't get me wrong, there are negative reviews on Tripadvisor that are certainly fair and I'd love to be able to respond. We did have a vegetarian waitress who sneered at meat eaters ... for about two days until we parted company, some dishes have stayed on our menu for a long time, Fillet steak, bearnaise and smoked mash is a keeper but the goat's cheese salad has finally been replaced with a lovely goat's cheese pannacotta with beetroot crisps, poached and powdered rhubarb for the winter. There has been the occasional booking issue, some our fault, and some, I suspect a result of there being more than one restaurant called The Wild Garlic, at last count there are three in the UK I'm aware of.
I'm not going to respond to Tripadvisor, I find the anonymity of the site an invitation for some very unfounded reviews. I know approx 10% are fake for the reasons above. I know a number have been put up by a couple of single parties who have very strong ties to a competitor, I would like to think the competitor hasn't asked them too and they are acting out of a sense of loyalty. I know a number have been written as a result of me not acceding to blackmail and giving a free meal 'or we'll put negative reviews about you'.
If you are happy or unhappy with the restaurant in some way please post a comment to this blog entry, like all of my blog comments I will publish as long as you don't hide behind anonymity.