'FED-UP restaurant owners are fighting back against anonymous online reviewers, saying unfair negative ratings are dragging their names through the mud and driving away their business.
With the growth of websites such as Urbanspoon and Eatability, restaurateurs have reported customers threatening them with bad reviews to extort free food and alcohol, and say they're copping fake complaints from competitors, disgruntled ex-employees and even local residents.
Now consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is moving to help stamp out fake reviews by drawing up a set of "best practice" guidelines in collaboration with review sites and industry groups.
An ACCC spokesperson said the use of fake online reviews as a marketing tool was a "priority issue" for the body, and false reviews designed to promote a business or harm a rival were in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
Glen Higgs, whose Bulimba restaurant Cafe Citrus was the bottom-ranked Brisbane eatery on Urbanspoon last week with an approval rating of 21 per cent, said consistent negative reviews of the Oxford St institution had left a bad taste in his mouth.'
"It's disgusting, especially the ones who want free food or the other restaurants who trash you," he said.
"I'd love to sue them. It has definitely hurt us.
"We're one of the most successful restaurants in Bulimba, we are the busiest restaurant in Bulimba, and so if our food and service was that bad we wouldn't be here."
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