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The restaurant owner who asked for 1-star Yelp reviews

By Patrick follow Patrick   2019 Jun 9, 3:29pm 863 views   19 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


https://thehustle.co/botto-bistro-1-star-yelp/

In 2014, chef Davide Cerretini advertised a special that would forever change his fate: Anyone who left his restaurant a 1-star review on Yelp would get 25% off a pizza.

See, his Bay Area-based Italian joint, Botto Bistro, was at a crossroads. Like many small businesses, it was enslaved to the whims of online reviewers, whose public dispatches could make or break its reputation.

He’d had enough: It was time to pry the stars from the “cold, grubby hands of Yelpers” and take control of his own destiny.

But the move would set Cerretini at the center of a long-standing battle between Yelp and disgruntled business owners — a battle including cries of “extortion,” review manipulation, and predatory advertising tactics. ...

In the months after Botto Bistro’s grand opening, Cerretini began receiving dozens of calls from Yelp salespeople, who implored him to buy ads.

According to Cerretini, when he rebuffed these offers, he’d often notice that freshly posted 5-star reviews would be removed from his page — often no less than 24 hours after getting off the phone with a Yelp rep.

“I came from Italy, and know exactly what mafia extortion looks like,” he says. “Yelp was manipulating reviews and hoping I would pay a protection fee. I didn’t come to America and work for 25 years to be extorted by some idiot in Silicon Valley.” ...

Eventually, Cerretini relented, plunking down $270 per month to advertise his business on Yelp. But after 6 months, he found the service “useless” and cancelled it. Once again, his star rating plummeted.

In the spring of 2014, after turning down another Yelp salesperson, Cerretini claims that four 5-star reviews were filtered from his page, and three 1-star reviews were suddenly catapulted to the top of the page. For the chef, this was the final straw.

“Those 1-star reviews were from people who never even set foot in my restaurant,” says Cerretini. “One complained about our waiters… we didn’t even have waiters!”

Cerretini began to realize that Yelp was “completely controlling [his] reputation.” And after mulling things over, he decided it was time for more extreme measures. ...

Soon, he came to a realization: “What if I don’t give a shit about reputation? What if I take away their power by actually making it worse?”

One morning in September of 2014, he placed a simple sign in front of Botto Bistro: Give us a one star review on Yelp and get 25% off any pizza! Hate us on Yelp. (The discount was later increased to 50%.) ...

“I knew the people at Yelp were going to hate me, but that’s exactly what I wanted,” says Cerretini. “I didn’t want them in there anyway.”

His protest came at a perfect time. Days earlier, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Yelp had the right to manipulate reviews, and its advertising tactics were a form of “hard bargaining” — not extortion.

Small business owners were furious, and they were looking for a vigilante hero. ...

The next morning, Cerretini pulled into his parking lot and was greeted by an “avalanche” of journalists, fellow restaurant owners, and supporters. They all wanted to know the same thing: How did it feel to just… not care about reviews?

That Friday, Cerretini did more business than he typically did in an entire month.

“I had to ask the restaurant community for help, extra pizza dough,” he laughs. “It was an absolute madhouse. I’d never seen anything like it.”

Most supporters refused to take the discount, but were thrilled to write a review and partake in what they deemed to be a grassroots, anti-Yelp uprising.

In a few days’ time, Botto Bistro’s Yelp page attracted more than 2,300 1-star ratings (95% of its total reviews) extolling the good food, proper service, and rustic ambiance. “Botto Bistro sucks,” wrote one reviewer. “Delicious food priced fairly. One star.”

This earned the restaurant the distinction of being the worst-rated restaurant on Yelp. ...

Today, Cerretini has forged a career out of his 1-star publicity: He does private cooking classes and events that run up to $3,000 a pop.

In the aftermath of his press, he’s become a celebrity in the restaurant scene — a Davide who went up against a tech Goliath and emerged self-empowered.

“I’m the only person who beat them at their own game,” he says. “I left a black mark on that company. I trolled them. I humiliated them. And now, they avoid me like the plague.”


I love this guy!

I wish there were a way to play Google and Facebook against themselves like that.

1   mell   ignore (3)   2019 Jun 9, 3:56pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

AF is close with his ideas of blasting fake info into the digital ether to completely distort any profile milking
2   Ceffer   ignore (3)   2019 Jun 9, 5:59pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

"Empowering the lowest common denominator of libel slingers backed up by corporate entity extortion" The purple and saffron haired Ninth Circuit of LibbyFuck Legislators consider this 'free speech'. Maybe because extortion is one of the prime movers of the legal profession and must be protected at all costs.

Yelp are a bunch of loathsome motherfuckers plain and simple. No stars.
3   HEYYOU   ignore (34)   2019 Jun 9, 10:04pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

anti_forum
4   BayArea   ignore (1)   2019 Jun 9, 10:11pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I absolutely love this, thanks for sharing @Patrick
5   WookieMan   ignore (4)   2019 Jun 10, 4:44am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I know some people do, but I really hope most people don't take reviews seriously from almost any of these sites (food specifically). People that leave reviews, at least from my experience, are fucked up people looking for attention. Positive or negative. Eat the food and move on with your day. If it's bad (service or food), people will just stop going naturally. And if you have a problem, grow a pair and discuss it like an adult with the manager or owner instead of running and typing up a shit review that maybe they could have remedied.
6   Booger   ignore (5)   2019 Jun 10, 5:26am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Fuck Yelp!

They bury bad reviews, presumably for a price, and can't be trusted.
7   mell   ignore (3)   2019 Jun 10, 8:33am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

WookieMan says
I know some people do, but I really hope most people don't take reviews seriously from almost any of these sites (food specifically). People that leave reviews, at least from my experience, are fucked up people looking for attention. Positive or negative. Eat the food and move on with your day. If it's bad (service or food), people will just stop going naturally. And if you have a problem, grow a pair and discuss it like an adult with the manager or owner instead of running and typing up a shit review that maybe they could have remedied.

Nailed it
8   NuttBoxer   ignore (2)   2019 Jun 10, 11:47am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I use Yelp, but just like any review site, you have to look through more than one review, judge if they're legit, and usually want to find a few bad reviews to see if they have teeth. For food though, I usually go with local new articles, Yelp reviewers will say cardboard is good, no refinement when it comes to taste at all.
9   Quigley   ignore (2)   2019 Jun 10, 3:35pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I use it mainly to find new places to try. I had no idea it was so corrupt. We tried a new Pho restaurant on Saturday I found on yelp. Was good! Biggest bowl of pho I ever had!
10   mell   ignore (3)   2019 Jun 10, 4:25pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

These days any "service" mostly used by womyn is suspect, likely corrupt and mosdef mainly about attention whoring.
11   WookieMan   ignore (4)   2019 Jun 11, 8:23am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

What are peoples thoughts on Trip Advisor reviews? That's one site where I do partially take the reviews into account and it hasn't failed me yet like yelp has. But that's a whole different animal compared to what Yelp was originally set up for, restaurant reviews, not vacations/hotels/excursions.
12   APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch   ignore (43)   2019 Jun 11, 8:40am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Trip Advisor's aggregate scores get more accurate as the number of reviews increases. It's not a scam in that way.

I posted a couple of things that they demounted as 'violating our code of blah' - so if you really want to know the crimes that a property could commit against guests, you'll not find them discussed on TA.
13   zzyzzx   ignore (1)   2019 Jun 11, 9:06am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Eventually, Cerretini relented, plunking down $270 per month to advertise his business on Yelp. But after 6 months, he found the service “useless” and cancelled it. Once again, his star rating plummeted.

Who the fuck pays $270/month to Yelp???

And the stock doesn't pay a dividend and has a really high PE ratio, so I'm not inclined to buy their stock either. That and you would have to believe that their extortion willl be allowed to continue. Also, I left a negative review that got taken down like 2 years after I wrote it with some flimsy not applicable excuse as the reason.
14   zzyzzx   ignore (1)   2019 Jun 11, 9:08am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

WookieMan says
What are peoples thoughts on Trip Advisor reviews?


I love trip advisor. Often it's the bast place to go to get pictures posted by patrons that you don't see on the attractions website, and to date, censorship is minimal.
15   WookieMan   ignore (4)   2019 Jun 11, 10:04am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

zzyzzx says
WookieMan says
What are peoples thoughts on Trip Advisor reviews?


I love trip advisor. Often it's the bast place to go to get pictures posted by patrons that you don't see on the attractions website, and to date, censorship is minimal.


The photo part is awesome. Many times guest photos are superior to the paid photography the resorts put out. I dig nice bathrooms when traveling and most resort sites neglect the fucking bathroom altogether.
16   APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch   ignore (43)   2019 Jun 11, 10:28am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I wrote that a place had kidnapped me because I objected to the chicken and was holding me ransom and they left it up.

Yelp will probably say or do anything at any time for any reason to get payments out of people. I doubt they have any coherent plan or policy outside of 20 things they throw at businesses to get money out of them.
17   NuttBoxer   ignore (2)   2019 Jun 11, 11:18am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Tripadvisor it legit for hotel bookings. But you still need to take reviews with a grain of salt, as with all review sites.
18   BigFrank   ignore (0)   2019 Jun 11, 12:51pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

WookieMan says
I know some people do, but I really hope most people don't take reviews seriously from almost any of these sites (food specifically). People that leave reviews, at least from my experience, are fucked up people looking for attention. Positive or negative. Eat the food and move on with your day. If it's bad (service or food), people will just stop going naturally. And if you have a problem, grow a pair and discuss it like an adult with the manager or owner instead of running and typing up a shit review that maybe they could have remedied.


I use Tripadvisor all the time to find info on where to go when in a new city. Usually spot on and i've had some incredible experiences at places we find from Tripadvisor, without the old school trial and error. Yelp has always sucked. They literally raped me when i opened this business with some insane costs for advertising, with literally nothing in return. I realized quickly it was easiest to take my lumps and chalk it up to education expense. Fuck Yelp, they always forced you into their app instead of the website which is a quick reason for me to run and never look back
19   rocketjoe79   ignore (1)   2019 Jun 11, 2:07pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Yelp is for kids. Trip Advisor is for adults.

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