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An Italian Restaurant Combats Yelp, One 1-Star Rating at a Time

I have a question for small business owners. How many times has a representative from Yelp called your business asking you to advertise on their website?

Our clients receive these calls relentlessly. In fact, we’ve had to ask Yelp to stop calling our clients on their behalf.

One restaurant in California, Botto Bistro, is attempting to fight back by becoming “the worst restaurant in the Bay area”. Why in the world would a restaurant want to be known as the absolute worst in their area? Simply to prove whether or not advertisers on Yelp receive better reviews.

According to Inside Scoop SF, Davide Cerretini, co-owner of Botto Bistro, is quoted as saying, “I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious.”

bad-yelp-review-botto-bistro

For those of you not as technologically informed, Yelp is a website that helps residents find businesses in their local area. For instance, are you looking for a pizza place in your town? If you are, you can simply type in “pizza” into the Yelp website and it will generate all the closest restaurants based on location, reviews and other criteria.

Yelp also offers businesses the opportunity to advertise on their website. There have been several accusations against Yelp stating that businesses who advertise on the website are favored over those that do not.

Even Botto Bistro noticed a distinct difference in their Yelp listing when they advertised on the website. The restaurant did use Yelp’s advertising services for approximately 6 months, at a rate of $270 per month ($1,620 total). During that time period, the restaurant noticed that more positive reviews were visible on their listing. However, once they ceased their advertising, negative reviews rose straight to the top and the positive reviews seemed to vanish.

How Botto Bistro is Fighting Back

Frustrated with the fact that Yelp is convincing businesses to rely on their advertising services for positive ratings, Botto Bistro is asking customers to provide terrible, terrible reviews for their business. They are also giving customers a 25% discount for writing a horrible review about the business on Yelp.

Yelp, however, does not allow or encourage paid-for reviews. This means that businesses should not entice customers to provide a review in exchange for a discount, product or special offer. In fact, Yelp even sent an email to Botto Bistro requesting that they stop. Of course, Botto Bistro is looking to get their listing removed from Yelp, so why would they stop?

The restaurant is doing this entire endeavor to give Yelp a taste of it’s own medicine. Customers are also standing behind Botto Bistro’s cause. Some of the customer reviews are quite hilarious:

“Botto’s was 100% the worst I’ve ever seen. Fresh peppers and finely chopped mushrooms, thinly sliced ham and pepperoni, even 9 ways you could have your marinara. I ran out in tears and it’s taken me over two weeks to build up the courage to write this review.” – 9/23/2014

“This place actually puts cheese on their pizza – CHEESE! What’s next? Meat. I pray not. The pizzas are round, the restaurant is square and the servers ask you what you would like to eat! What is wrong with these people? I asked around and it seems others have the same gripe – piping hot pizzas, friendly service and dishes to drool over. “ – 9/24/2014

If your business has been solicited once, twice or a million times by Yelp, you may be thoroughly enjoying what Botto Bistro is doing. As Davide Cerrenti says, he’s just fighting fire with fire.

The page is receiving reviews from around the world in an effort to combat Yelp. Take a look at Botto Bistro’s Yelp listing and see for yourself.

What do you think about this tactic? Are you fed up with Yelp as well?



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