An annoyed Menulog courier tried to ruin the reputation of a small Sydney restaurant by orchestrating more than 70 fake Google reviews.
The mail began the assault online after storming North Narrabeen Rimini Gregorio’s trattoria on Friday night following an incident with owner Gregorio Rimini’s wife Anna.
Menulog has since said he asked the courier to remove the notices and that his network access “has been suspended while the incident is further investigated.”
Ms Rimini told the Daily Telegraph that the dispute arose after she asked the courier for an order number, but he did not respond. Instead, he showed her his cell phone. Ms Rimini told the Telegraph that she couldn’t see what was on the screen because she didn’t have her reading glasses.
According to Ms. Rimini, the courier left abruptly.
Mr Rimini said shortly after, the courier called the restaurant, calling his wife a foul name.
“He told me over the phone that he was going to ruin our store,” Mr. Rimini said. “At the end of the night there was the first exam.”
On Monday there had been more scores – all one in five.
“Harshwirq Harshwirq”, who hadn’t posted a review on anything before, posted: “Worst food ever … and staff don’t speak English (sic).”
Another first-time reviewer incorrectly stated that the restaurant was “totally unsanitary” and that a member of staff had been seen “sticking her fingers in their noses”.
A third claimed Mr Rimini had ties to motorcycle gangs.
The net result was that the restaurant’s Google rating halved to 2.2.
The Telegraph approached Google Australia and the bogus reviews were removed for “policy violations” shortly thereafter.
Google’s procedure for reporting and correcting reviews is available at bit.ly/35BWB2K.
Stacks Champion attorney Geoff Baldwin said small businesses should not take action against false negative reviews.
“Ignoring it is not a solution,” said Mr Baldwin.
Start by responding to reviews on the same platform, he advised, saying the reviews are seen as “deliberately bogus and damaging our reputation.”
Mr Baldwin then asked a lawyer to send a letter to the platform, stating “what you have told individuals, adding that you are warning the platform that posting these opinions could make them responsible.
“And ask that the messages be deleted.”
Mr Baldwin said such a letter “should not cost too much”.
The Rimini’s reported the Menulog mail to NSW Police, but they take no formal action.
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Originally published as Why this restaurant has faced a barrage of fake reviews