Legal threat over South Yorkshire restaurant review

Chris Hobson, TripAdvisor's top UK contributor in 2013.
Chris Hobson, TripAdvisor's top UK contributor in 2013.
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A South Yorkshire restaurateur has accused a globe-trotting food-lover of blackmail.

Sarah Bird, director of the Double Barrel Real Steakhouse and Grill in Thurcroft, near Rotherham, has reported Chris Hobson’s TripAdvisor review to a solicitor claiming it contains comments bordering on libel.

Double Barrel Steakhouse,Woodhouse Green,Thurcroft.......

Double Barrel Steakhouse,Woodhouse Green,Thurcroft.......

She claims Mr Hobson - who was named TripAdvisor’s top UK contributor for 2013 after notching up 512 reviews in 12 months - is among a growing number of people who come into the restaurant threatening to give a bad review if they are not given a free meal.

And she has also reported his review to the travel website.

Ms Bird posted a lengthy response to the review - about which Mr Hobson has also notified TripAdvisor.

Ms Bird said: “As a business we have got to protect ourselves.

“We have had numerous issues with TripAdvisor reviewers and have reported Chris Hobson for blackmail.

“It’s the way that this industry is going. There are people out there that want to get a free meal.”

She encouraged customers to let them know in person straight away if they are not happy, or email or phone at a later date so they can look into the issue.

But Mr Hobson, aged 46, and from Barnsley, insisted: “I had a horrendous experience so left a review explaining exactly why I thought that.

“She has gone on to threaten legal action and has made allegations of blackmail and also has criticised me personally.”

Chris, a national account manager for a finance company, said he did complain in person during his visit and was given a 30 per cent discount for his steak not being cooked correctly.

He added: “I would suggest that 70 per cent of my reviews are good or very good.

“I use TripAdvisor to point out good places. If I do have a bad experience then I also tell people.”

TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said the matter was being investigated.

He added: “Customers have the right to give an honest review which is something we consider extremely important and we work hard to protect that.

“We do allow owners to have their right of reply and that is subject to similar guidelines that our general reviews are subject to.”