Photo: Courtesy of Yelp.
We all use Yelp, and we'd be fibbing if we said we didn't choose our dinner or lunch spots based on the star ranking. But, many San Francisco restaurants claim that the website is blackmailing them with high ratings in exchange for ad deals. Botto Bistro, an Italian eatery in Richmond, is fighting back in a very surprising way — by actually encouraging people to leave a bad review.
Customers who give them a one-star rating get 20% off pizza and a chance to win a free cooking class. The endgame? To become the worst restaurant in the Bay — at least according to Yelp.
"I don't have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious," Botto Bistro co-owner Davide Cerretini explained to Inside Scoop. "I think I should be the one deciding if I'm on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I'm going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants."
While the clever campaign has only increased business for Botto Bistro, the larger implications of this are pretty depressing. According to a recent ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it would be perfectly legal for Yelp to manipulate its reviews based on the ads restaurants purchase. Even if the website hasn't done so in the past, it definitely makes you think twice about what those stars really mean, doesn't it?