Warning over online plaudits for restaurants
Thursday 5th April 2012, 8:00AM BST.
JERSEY businesses are being approached by a UK firm that is offering to post ‘professional’ positive reviews on TripAdvisor and minimise the impact of any negative comments left by customers.
A restaurateur approached the Jersey Evening Post after he received what he described as a dubious offer from the Birmingham-based company Bigoo last week.
The firm promised to post positive – but essentially faked – reviews on TripAdvisor in order to promote his business, in return for a fee.
The fax from Bigoo read: ‘We now have a practical solution to mitigating the impact of such malicious and negative reviews, while at the same time building your online reputation with a constant stream of professional reviews.’
The offer was followed by a second fax, which said that in addition to setting up a Facebook page, Bigoo could help to boost the social media profile of his business.
‘We can provide 1,000 fans for your Facebook site at a fixed cost. These people will promote and recommend your business, website and Facebook site and create a wonderful online testimonial for your venue,’ the fax read.
Andrew Hosegood, who owns El Tico and the Mange Tout chain, said: ‘TripAdvisor is a fantastic opportunity to find out what’s going on in an area you propose to visit, but what concerns me is its anonymity, which leaves it open to abuse. And these faxes are proof of that.’
According to Bigoo’s website, the service costs £59.99 a month and can ‘manage’ the online reputation of a business on sites including TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter.
Gerry Carter, of Bigoo, declined to reveal how many people worked for the company as reviewers, where they were based and whether they visited each hotel, bar and restaurant about which they posted online comments.
And he could not disclose whether the Facebook fans he offered up to businesses had any direct contact in daily life with the services they were endorsing.
However, he claimed that Bigoo was ‘totally ethical’ and that reviews were ‘conducted in accordance with the editorial guidelines and policies related to each individual review website’.