A South Yorkshire restaurateur has claimed he is being blackmailed by diners threatening to leave a bad review on TripAdvisor if they are not given their meals free of charge.
Jason Mace, who owns the Real Steakhouse brand of restaurants in Rotherham, is urging TripAdvisor to crack down on malicious reviewers and force them to reveal their identities.
Mr Mace, who owns outlets in Thurcroft and Swinton, said: “It’s quite laughable that some customers come into restaurants these days and the first thing they do is to advise the staff that they are a senior TripAdvisor reviewer.
“What we have started to do is to ask our customers to let us know straight away if they are not happy.
“This gives us a chance to address it, rather than making threats via TripAdvisor.”
Barnsley man Chris Hobson, who is TripAdvisor’s top UK contributor, said he personally tends to ignore reviews left by people who have made only one or two contributions to the site.
He said it is more likely they are a friend of the business, or a malicious customer or competitor.
He added: “You have to read between the lines.”
TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said the site has measures in place so that owners can report threats before a corresponding review is submitted.
He added: “Not only is it strictly against our guidelines, but it may also be illegal in many jurisdictions.”
He urged restaurateurs to contact TripAdvisor’s management centre immediately with issues, so the site can implement its investigation procedures.