Service combinations with unforeseen results – Review Trolling

There are Internet services which when viewed alone seem to be beneficial to all parties. The deep discounting sites such as Groupon and Living Social are examples. The customer gets a great deal and probably visits establishments which they otherwise wouldn't have tried. If managed effectively these sites can be very beneficial to the restaurant / pub as well. Another example are the various reviewing site, Trip Advisor for example. Great for a first time visitor to get a feel for the options available in a location and great for the establishments who provide the best possible service. Or so you might hope… However there are a minority of Internet users who have combined these services to create a rather insidious and damaging hobby. You might call it “Discount Code Review Trolling” Or for short let’s call them Discotrolls….. The pattern of behaviours goes something like this. Trawl through the deep discounting sites and harvest your vouchers. Contact a bunch of like minded friends and prompt them to do the same. Visit the victims establishment and hoover up your meals, spending the absolute minimum on additional items or services. Return home and post damaging and vindictive reviews under a pseudonym using a throw away email account. The really sad part is that they do this week in, week out.

Here’s an example. Obviously fictional, but it will have an all too true feel about it to many in the industry…..

It is Thursday morning and there is a hard frost outdoors. You have a business group in for a lunch meeting in the conservatory and the restaurant and dining areas are just about booked up for lunch. The Chef and his crew are going to deserve a few free pints at the end of this shift. You move from area to area placing menus and specials cards on the tables and making sure that all the place setting are correct and lighting the gas fires as you go. Passing the log burning stove you stop to throw a couple of large logs in and open the vent allowing the stove to crackle into a full blaze. Nothing looks more inviting. 

As you pass the main door you note a couple of cars parked off centre in the parking bays and very close to each other. The occupants have all four windows down and appear to be passing a steaming flask back and forth. You make a note to open as soon as possible and let them in, they must be freezing out there… Having got the float in both tills and stuck your head into the kitchen to be welcomed by the usual banter you replace a blown wall light bulb and gathering up your keys head to the main door to let your guests in. It is about fifteen minutes to twelve, but they have been sat outdoors in the cold for over half an hour as far as you know, maybe longer. Oddly enough your guests don’t make an immediate move, but some of the business group do and soon Helen your head waitress is ushering them through into the conservatory in a friendly and efficient manner. You think to yourself that you really are fortunately with your present staff.

By twenty five past twelve most tables are occupied, there is a busy hustle and bustle at the bar and checks and food orders are passing back and forth to and from the kitchen. At exactly twelve thirty, six very cold looking guests appear through the front door. Helen greets them and shows them to the last remaining large table, which appropriately enough is in the raised area by the bar where the log burner is now belting out heat. You gesture to Helen who deftly slides the vent to the half way position causing the almost incandescent stove to moderate its heat output.

Within moments Sarah as summonsed to the table and takes the order. On her way back from the kitchen she adds ice and a slice of lemon to a large glass pitcher of water and delivers it to their table. Glancing across you note with some puzzlement that three of the party are still wearing the heavy jackets. In a moment between serving drinks you pop over to ask if you could take their jackets. The reply is that they are very cold. Possibly as a result of sitting in their cars with the windows down you think.

Their food is delivered to the table after about ten minutes. Six Grill Platters. Which they consume with gusto. Shortly after finishing their meals one of the party appears at the bar to pay, brandishing six vouchers entitling them to 50% off the bill. He pays the bill and confirms that they thoroughly enjoyed their meals and they depart. All is good. Or so you think.

The afternoon passes into early evening and the business meeting guests begin to leave. You have a couple of pints with the kitchen crew and at eleven forty five you finish your shift and pass the bar over to Ian who as on lates and early mornings until Tuesday.

Having almost forgotten the rather odd group a week earlier the Trip Advisor App on your mobile pings. Checking through the bookings for the previous week you realise that the disparaging review is by none other than Mr. Embitteredshaw, of the self same party of six. They are critical of your foreign staff, your badly laid out parking facilities, the dangerous tree overhanging the front door, the quality of their food, the cold dark and damp feel to the place and the surely landlord. Actually they are critical of everything, which is strange because you’d not had a review with less than a four star rating since the last time you offered Groupon / Living Social vouchers!

Trip Advisor refuse to remove their review which festers there impacting on your ranking for the following six months but thankfully you never see Mr. Enbitteredshaw or any of his fellows again……..


Wine & Dine Yorkshire

Wine & Dine Yorkshire is delivered to 48,482 homes and businesses throughout the Yorkshire regionWine & Dine Yorkshire is delivered to 48,482 homes and businesses throughout the Yorkshire region. An idea promotional publication for pubs, restaurants and hospitality related businesses.

Designed and distributed by CreateTVT who are a small family run business based in Selby, North Yorkshire aiming to provide you with creative designs, quality prints and efficient cost effective distribution services. We make a conscious effort to understand our clients business, products and services in order to produce effective marketing material and outstanding communication tools for you and your business, saving you time and maximising your response.

To download the media pack either click here or on the picture to the right



Innovation in commercial food manufacturing materials.

Ulrick & Short LimitedIt is good to see research and investment going into a more natural, sustainable and probably healthier approach to commercial food production ingredients. Although much of the public perception about E Numbers is based on misinformation a natural alternative is always more palatable to the purchasing public. Also there are some notable oddities loitering in the E number list of EEC approved food ingredients. I personally would avoid anything with the additive E236 Formic acid  shown on the label. Formic acid, the active ingredients in some insect venom has no place at the dinner table, as far as I'm concerned!

So the list of milled ingredients supplied by Ulrick & Short Ltd near Pontefract makes refreshing reading.

“At Ulrick & Short we design, develop and supply food ingredients in the form of starches, proteins, fibres and flours derived from wheat, tapioca, maize, rice and sweet potato. Using one or blending a mix of ingredients from our range can help deliver a variety of functions including:

  • Texture and stability control
  • Fat replacement
  • Phosphate removal
  • Glazing and coating,
  • Removal of egg
  • Binding and emulsifying

Our raw materials are processed by approved partners worldwide, who hold world-class accreditations such as BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, IFS and FSSC22000. The quality of our food ingredients is assured by our accredited HACCP and QM Systems. These rigorous systems are audited annually against the NSF Due Diligence Standard in which we have always achieved the highest Gold level. Our attention to detail doesn’t stop there; we offer full technical support for all our ingredients, guiding you from kitchen development to factory trials to ensure you get the best from our ingredients.“

Maybe these ingredients are not available to the general public, but included in commercial products they have to be a better alternative than some of the commercially available additives presently used.

Ulrick & Short Limited, Walton Wood Farm, Thorpe Audlin, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF8 3HQ

Local Selby businesses man Simon Easthill sponsors BTCC team Tom Ingram from Speed Works

Northern Living - Local Selby businesses man Simon Easthill sponsors BTCC team Tom Ingram from Speed Works“I am delighted to announce Advantage Printer Consumables will be sponsoring Tom Ingram from Speed Works Motorsport for the forthcoming 2015 BTCC season. This is a lifetime ambition come true for me and I wish Tom & the team the best of luck for 2015”

Mr. Easthill owner of Advantage Printer Consumables and Eashill Computer Services said. “I am sponsoring a car in the UK's 2nd biggest car motor sport, The British Touring Car Championship - BTCC.  It's something I have followed for years so have quite an interest in.  I have joined up with a mid table team called Speed Works and sponsoring their driver Tom Ingram. This is a massive privilege for me.”

Speedworks Motorsport is heading into the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship confident about its chances of springing a surprise, after re-signing last year’s leading rookie Tom Ingram for a second consecutive campaign behind the wheel of its heavily revised Toyota Avensis.

Speedworks enters its fifth season in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised, all-action BTCC – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series – determined to finally claim its long-awaited breakthrough podium finish, after edging consistently closer to the front of the field. -

Don't follow the Trolls – There's nothing good under that bridge.

Don't follow the Trolls – There's nothing good under that bridge.There is a fashion which has grown up as a result of web-based rating and review systems and it's not a pretty or pleasing fashion at all. Obviously the keyboard warrior is certainly older than the Internet, it's always been easier for a certain type of professional moaner to send a caustic letter rather than face their victim. But review bombing is a relatively new phenomenon. The concept seems relatively simple. A bunch of Internet trolls decide to target an individual business and using a host of bogus accounts set about writing derogatory and damaging reviews on every service which is appropriate for that business. Yell, Yahoo, Facebook, Trip Advisor etc. Whilst a number of these services have recently tightened up their systems and have made a commitment to remove obviously bogus or intentionally malicious reviews it is often too late in that the damage has already been done. It is also very difficult to implement if the trolls are reasonably intelligent and determined.

Some safeguards exist. Comment aggregation is one that the reading public should pay attention to before taking a very negative review at face value. If the author of the review has several entries on the same site it will always be useful to read a selection. If all reviews are extremely negative then it's safe to say this individual is embittered and probably not the most reliable reference. Slightly more concerning is if you find a host of negative reviews in a given geographic area and one shining recommendation. It's safe to assume on this occasion that the author has a vested interest and is far from unbiased....

A very unpleasant development of this trend are email to businesses demanding regular payments to prevent negative review being posted. There is an implied threat that if payment is not received, usually through Western Union, which is extremely difficult to trace, that these reviews will be placed and there is little the business can do to have them removed. Although illegal and very worrying these threats can usually be taken with a pinch of salt. Our unpleasant troll is looking for quick cash and is actually unlikely to follow their threat through. In doing so they would have to invest time and effort into a venture which would guarantee to net them nothing. Which is generally opposite to the characteristics of such individuals.

If you do happen across a flood of negative reviews about a business which has previously had a good reputation on-line, don't take these at face value. Try the place or product out. If you are satisfied with the product or service write a review or indeed, several reviews to that effect. 

We can reverse the trend, if we take the time to give positive feedback.


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