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Brutal Yelp Reviews of Your Restaurant are Now a Civic Matter

In previous posts, we’ve talked about the many ways that astroturfing – particularly, faking online reviews – can hurt your business. It isn’t cool to rate yourself five stars, and there are very real, very serious consequences that you’ll have to face when you do get caught gaming the system.

Some business owners and managers take astroturfing a step further – and that’s by writing and posting fake reviews that are meant to blemish the brand reputation of a competitor.

False complaints on TripAdvisor

Recently, Chris Gamack, a chef in Barnard Castle, UK was exposed on Facebook as the author of a number of TripAdvisor reviews posted under the name Chris Darlington. Gamack posted one-star reviews of rival restaurants – including the Bengal Merchant, Valentine’s Restaurant, the Old Well Inn, and Penny’s Tea Shop – on the travel review site.

According to reports, he wrote a fake review describing one competitor as being so dirty that he wished he’d brought a vacuum cleaner; in another one-star review, he described a frustrating 40-minute wait for food.

The chef has since been dismissed from his job at the Amen Continental Café, and the fake reviews he posted on TripAdvisor have also been deleted.

“We can confirm that the reviews related to this incident were in breach of our guidelines and were removed from TripAdvisor, following an investigation by our content specialists,” said a TripAdvisor spokesman. “We fight fraud aggressively and have sophisticated systems and teams in place to detect fraudsters.”

(Check out: “TripAdvisor Combats Fake Reviews by Implementing New Anti-Fraud Techniques”)

Mufti Choudhury, manager of the Bengal Merchant, expressed shock at what Gamack had done. “If he had eaten in my restaurant and posted a genuine review, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that. He has a right to do so. However, he has admitted he never stepped foot in my restaurant. Businesses support one another in the town which is why we are so shocked.”

Choudhury also posted a response to the fake review on the restaurant’s Facebook page:

brand reputation

ALSO read: You Wouldn’t Believe How This Hotel Manager Responded to Negative TripAdvisor Reviews

Equally shocked was Paul Smith, owner of the Amen Continental Café. “We knew nothing about it and feel disgusted and upset,” he said. “It’s not the way we operate. The member of staff has been dismissed for gross misconduct and I’ve apologized in person to the people involved.”

Looking for a better way to manage online reviews and brand reputation? Check out ReviewTrackers, a software platform providing top technology and data to help businesses and marketers track, analyze, and collect reviews on TripAdvisor and all other major review sites. Sign up for a demo today and discover why tens of thousands business locations love ReviewTrackers!

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.


  1. Don

    Why do restaurant owners always have an arch rival at another local restaurant? Has anyone else noticed this? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a doctor hating another doctor or a grocer hating another grocer but it seems like every local restaurant has another least favorite restaurant. And if you mention their name in front of the owner he’ll act like you’re in danger of catching Ebola every time you eat there.

    • moolahmachine

      Also, tattoo parlors. I used to know a guy who ran one and literally half of everything he said was about how unclean this other shop was.

  2. PattyT12

    This is just a way of trying to eliminate the competition. It should be illegal, as if you can’t compete with quality and service, then you should change the way of business and not to fake reviews. Some healthy competition is good for growing business.

  3. Susan Armand

    He just tried to become no.1 in the town over night. It is not the best way, but sometimes it is worthy. He gave it a go and failed, but as I can see, there were no follow up and he was not sued. If what he tried have actually worked, he would be no.1, this way, he remained on the place where he was at the beginning. He lost nothing.

    • Hollaback Will

      Seriously? He lost nothing?! How about his reputation and future customers?! He proved himself to be a total jerk! I can’t believe you see nothing wrong with that!

  4. Samantha

    This is terrible and extremely petty. You should pride your business on being the best it can be and beating out competitors solely by being a better company. Now that this has come out the restaurant owner has shown his true colors and has hurt his business considerably because nobody wants to frequent a business where the owner is a jerk.