The travel review megasite TripAdvisor hasn’t been very lucky in Europe. It was recently scammed for the second time in three years with postings for a restaurant that didn’t exist.
According to The Local Italy, a restaurant called La Scaletta in the northern Italian town of Moniga del Garda emerged in TripAdvisor listings as the top spot in town for a great meal. But there is no La Scaletta there.
It turned out that local restaurant owners teamed up with the newspaper Italia a Tavola to prove a point: That a restaurant doesn’t have to be real to make a splash on TripAdvisor. So they created a fake profile for the restaurant, and then posted phony reviews — including 10 “excellent” ratings, which was enough to put La Scaletta at the top of local ratings, even though another restaurant in town — a real one — had many more “excellent” ratings.
As soon as TripAdvisor learned about the plot, it pulled the restaurant from its site.
Related: TripAdvisor adds airport ratings
In 2013, the same thing happened to the review site when a restaurant said to be aboard a restored fishing trawler in Brixham, England also got good ratings and a lot of frustrated customers who showed up at the address only to find nothing there. That was a fabrication by a local businessman.
Since TripAdvisor gets so many postings — reportedly up to 60 a minute — it clearly can’t vet all of them, so the credibility of its reviews has been an ongoing problem.
Do you use TripAdvisor’s restaurant reviews when traveling abroad? How reliable have they been? Please leave your comments below.
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