Chef Damian Wawrzyniak has 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.
The chef said: “Since we hit the number one spot we’ve been flooded with emails, people commenting we should not be there, leaving TripAdvisor reviews. We’re full every weekend and I never aim for stars, all I want to have is a busy restaurant, but obviously there’s some jealously. If TripAdvisor were to take on this idea I think it would be a game changer.
“We all know it’s a problem, I was hit by three one-star reviews, I know who it is, I know why he’s doing it, he’s never eaten at my place but he’s left a review. This is a worldwide problem.”
Wawrzyniak’s restaurant is reservation only, with a deposit taken on bookings and receipts sent digitally, so all diners have digital confirmation of having eaten there. He has suggested TripAdvisor adopt a QR code system that could be added to correspondence that would prove reviewers had visited establishments.
The petition has received more than 100 signatures in less than 24-hours. Among those to give their support was restaurant critic Jay Rayner who tweeted: "I've long argued that Trip Advisor 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."
The chef said TripAdvisor had launched an investigation into the reviews left for his restaurant.
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