Nearly sixty percent of restaurant owners have had an unfortunate encounter with customers who threaten a bad review on Yelp. It's not the old-style protection racket, but it's a racket just the same: the goon comes to the restaurateur and says, essentially, you give me what I want and nobody gets hurt.
Over the weekend, the Sacramento Bee reported one such incident. And this morning, a hospitality industry newsletter asked its readers whether they'd ever been threatened with a bad review. Fifty-eight percent (as of this writing) said they had.
I've spoken with Yelp sales reps. "If there's a review on Yelp that says 'I ate at (name of restaurant) and got food poisoning from the meatloaf,' and I could prove to you that the reviewer never ate at (name of restaurant), and, besides, that (name of restaurant) doesn't even serve meatloaf, what would you do?" And the rep answered, with a straight face, "We don't get involved in disputes over facts."
Bad enough people make insensitive, "All Italians are mafia" jokes. Next target: all Yelpers will be called thugs. And with good reason, apparently.