A restaurateur has threatened legal action against online reviews website TripAdvisor after a restaurant he left two years ago appeared still to be open on the site.
Richard Bradford, owner of Porters English Restaurant, relocated the business from Covent Garden in London to Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire in 2014.
However, Bradford complained that the website had not updated to reflect the fact that the restaurant had relocated, leaving customers confused.
In one instance in late December 2016, he highlighted the case of a group of eight who were booked in for lunch who rang up from outside 17 Henrietta Street in London, the site of the old restaurant, asking where Porters was.
"This cost us a lot of money and they [the customers] complained that our website gave out the wrong information, which it doesn't. We explained that we have no control over what TripAdvisor puts out", Bradford complained.
Eventually, in January 2017, the status of the former restaurant in the capital was updated on the TripAdvisor restaurant to read "moved".
However, after Bradford went into TripAdvisor's management centre to request the listing's complete removal, he checked again and noticed that the note saying the restaurant had moved had itself been removed and instead stated that it was open again.
Branding the situation "ludicrous", Bradford warned TripAdvisor that he would be forced to take legal action unless the listing was removed completly within the next 10 days, complaining that the situation was bad for Porters' credibility, as it was for TripAdvisor's own.
The restaurant is now marked as "moved" again, although the listing has not been removed completely.
Responding to the situation, a spokesman for TripAdvisor said: "If a restaurant has moved to another town or city, it is our policy to list its old location as ‘moved' on our site and to provide a link to a new listing page on TripAdvisor that marks the new location of the restaurant. This policy was introduced following feedback from both diners and the restaurant industry, and we feel it provides diners with a useful distinction between those restaurants that have simply moved to a new location and those that have closed their doors for good. In this particular case, the policy came into effect after Porters Restaurant in London had closed, which is one of the reasons that the status of the restaurant's listing page has changed over time.
"Porters Restaurant was correctly marked as ‘moved' on our site until further updates to its status were submitted by the restaurant's verified owner account using the management centre on TripAdvisor. As we now understand that these updates were given in error, we have fixed the page to ensure it once again accurately displays the restaurant as ‘moved'.
"Whenever the status of a restaurant has changed, we absolutely encourage owners to report that to us via the management centre so that the changes can then be reflected on their business' listing page. We always want to provide consumers with accurate, up-to-date information, and whenever we update our listing policies it is with that specific goal in mind.
"Business owners can go to the TripAdvisor help centre for more information and guidance on using our management centre tool: https://www.tripadvisorsupport.com/hc/en-gb."
Last month, TripAdvisor announced plans to tempt restaurants and hotels to pay new premium subscription services, offering a range of new features to manage their presence on the site.
Firstly, TripAdvisor is enhancing its subscription product for hoteliers through the launch of Business Advantage, allowing hotels to label a review the hotel's favourite at the top of the accommodation's property page, as well as the ability to highlight the best photos.
In addition, the review site is also launching TripAdvisor Premium for Restaurants. Initially costing £64.99 a month (based on a 12-month subscription, or £69.99 per month if taken month to month), features available for subscribers include: a favourite review feature; access to analytics; phone support from customer support staff; and storyboard, enabling restaurants to turn photos and reviews into a dynamic visual presentation showcasing their best features.