Chef Damian Wawrzyniak has accused TripAdvisor of demoting its local ranking by 122 places after complaining about the platform’s failure to prevent fake reviews.
Wawrzyniak last week launched a petition calling on TripAdvisor to demand proof of payment after his restaurant House of Feasts was bombarded with fake reviews.
The chef, who said his Peterborough restaurant was targeted after being listed as the number one restaurant in the city on the platform, has suggested a system using QR codes or digital receipts could end the practice of rival businesses trying to inflate their own ratings or damage others.
TripAdvisor removed fraudulent reviews left for the website but this weekend the chef reported his restaurant had fallen from the top spot to 122nd place. Of the restaurant’s 134 TripAdvisor reviews, 118 award it five stars rating it “excellent”, another 10 rate it very good, four stars.
Wawrzyniak tweeted: “This is what you get when you start to fight with TripAdvisor. Our listing dropped from 1st position to 122nd position. Reviews are still the same five stars. No explanation from TripAdvisor.”
TripAdvisor has said the restaurant was demoted as “problematic positive reviews” were uncovered as part of the investigation into the fake negative postings.
The chef’s petition, which suggested TripAdvisor adopt a QR code to prove reviewers had visited establishments, received more than 100 signatures in less than 24-hours and has now garnered more than 500.
Among those to give their support was restaurant critic Jay Rayner who tweeted: "I've long argued that TripAdvisor ought, as a minimum qualifying standard, demand proof that reviewers had actually visited the restaurant. So obviously I support this petition. They're stubborn and it doesn't play to their business model, but it's still worth signing."
A spokesperson for TripAdvisor said requiring reviews to provide proof of payment was not a model it plans to adopt as it would prevent genuine customers from sharing their reviews if they did not foot the bill, and it "would not prevent the vast majority of fake review attempts".
They said: "In most cases, fake positive reviews come from someone associated with or paid by the business itself, and it would be easy for them to falsify a receipt in order to circumvent a proof-of-payment review system.
"There are much better and more effective ways to catch fake reviews – and it is those methods that we use. Our combination of human moderators and fraud detection technology ensures we can identify fake reviews through the sophisticated analysis of online data. Last year, we prevented more than one million fake reviews from reaching TripAdvisor by taking this approach. We are the industry leaders when it comes to fake review detection, and we are confident our model works.”
View the petition here