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Chefs fight cooked up online reviews

Michelin-starred chef launches petition calling for an end to unmoderated internet reviews

TOP CHEFS and restaurateurs in France are fighting back against “dishonest” and “fraudulent” reviews posted on internet sites.

Following one negative review, Michelin-starred chef Pascal Favre d’Anne has launched a petition, calling for an end to damaging and defamatory reviews.

It demands that user-review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp or Cityvox should be moderated and calls for evidence reviewers to supply proof that they have visited the establishments they have written about.

Some of the biggest names in French cuisine, including the Pourcel brothers, are among the 1,745 signatories listed on the petition this morning.

It calls for “the prohibition of posting defamatory comments and subjective observations on members of staff in our restaurants.

“We ask reviewing sites to moderate their users and to ask for proof of their visits to our establishments,” it adds.

The American-based TripAdvisor has become an important worldwide reference site for travellers. It has 260million unique visitors every month, and more than 80 new contributions are published every minute.

In France alone, nine out of 10 travellers consult such sites before making a trip, and 89% of users rate them as “useful” or “very useful”.

But the absence of moderation of posts on its site has led to accusations of dishonesty and casts doubt in the minds of restaurant owners and hoteliers as to the veracity of some reviews.

A study conducted by theGeneral Directorate of Competition, Consumption and Repression of Frauds (DGCCRF) found that nearly 45% of online reviews were biased or inaccurate.

“TripAdvisor is a rogue site,” a receptionist at a hotel in Nice told Le Figaro.

“Unlike Booking.com, you don’t need to have made a reservation to be able to post a review. Anyone in the world could comment.”

Meanwhile the owner of a pub in Strasbourg told the paper that he was aware that a number of negative reviews of his establishment were written by students on the instructions of a rival.

Photo: Viaggio Routard

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