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NEWS


Restaurateurs hit back at negative reviewers


are hitting the headlines of the national papers, even winning support from the general public. Review sites have, themselves, always received mixed reviews. Some say they create a platform for constructive feedback, offering a chance for operators to rectify anything that was less than edifying about the customer’s experience. Others claim they provide a platform for sham reviews by competitors or vindictive comments by anonymous posters. And on the occasions when a diner demands discount in return for not writing a bad review, they even offer an opportunity for blackmail.


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estaurateurs are starting to hit back against negative online reviewers in a surprisingly forthright manner. And their responses, in turn,


transplant”. “Cheaper still, a brown paper bag for over your head will also do the trick,” he added helpfully. Recalcitrant reviewers have been addressed as “Dear frivolous and vexatious complainer” or “Dear faceless, newly created TripAdvisor account user.” One who complained about the high handed treatment of her child (who, according to Mr Ahmed, was “rolling up the menu like a cone”), was advised by the restaurateur to teach the child manners, also pointing out that by the end of the meal when, allegedly, being coerced out of the restaurant, her partner was “actually lying on the chair as if he was sitting by the pool.” To another who whinges that they did not receive eye contact from a server, Mr Ahmed


Now, restaurateurs and managers are on the counter attack. One who has featured in several national newspapers recently is Waseem Ahmed, the owner of Shimla Cottage restaurant in Coatsbridge, Lanarkshire. Mr Ahmed serves a lunch for £3.50 which has proved popular with customers, so popular in fact that he only allows them 45 minutes to eat it before he turns the table round. Even with these competitive prices, some diners still find it in their hearts to complain. However, Mr Ahmed is not one to beat about the bush. His responses to customers whose online reviews he believes less than genuine, are positively acerbic. In the past, he has described one customer’s comments about “inedible chicken” as “written excrement”, going on to suggest the reviewer should put the money taken off the bill towards a “personality


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riposted: “Apologies if the waiter didn’t give you a bow or a salute.” Responding to a claim from one diner that the chicken was less than tender, Mr Ahmed’s, reply was worthy of Basil Fawlty himself: “We are disappointed to read that your first review of our restaurant following your numerous lunch, dinner and takeaway visits made since our opening by yourself and partner, you could only define your review heading ‘Rubber Chicken’ and that our ‘food is crap’. Well it’s the same crap food that you’ve been eating for the last few years!” Many restaurateurs and indeed, members of the general public have some sympathy with Mr Ahmed’s sentiments. With a growing fan base, he has developed a reputation as an Indian Basil Fawlty. One leading publication has even dared readers to post


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