Customers extorting restaurants with negative reviews

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restaurantIt's commonplace for customers to ask for some kind of freebie if a meal is screwed up or if the service is poor at a restaurant and most places will happily oblige. It's another story entirely when consumers threaten to leave a bad review of the restaurant on an online review site. This has been happening in San Fransisco at several restaurants where customers have threatened to "Yelp" the restaurant if their meal is not on the house.

Yelp is a site whose trademark is "Real People, Real Reviews" but unfortunately since the reviewers are real people it doesn't always mean the stories are real. While the site tells its users that they shouldn't accept free food in exchange for a good review, and that they should disclose any special services or comps they get, the reality is that the users can do and say whatever they want. While these amateur reviewers definitely fill a gap in bringing real life opinions about restaurants to the masses, many seem to lack the ethics of professional food critics.

I think this abuse of the restaurants is despicable, it's cases like these that ruin the current system of comping items when something really is wrong. Have you ever wondered why every store is moving to a return policy with as many rules as the FAA issues for air travel? It's because people abused the system and took advantage of lax return policies ruining the experience for the rest of us. Not to mention degrading the value of user driven review sites as well. I wonder how long it will be until we hear about the first case of extortion on Angie's List from a customer who wanted her walls painted for free!
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