I read with interest a review for the Wild Garlic restaurant in Beaminster on Trip Advisor from georgeporgepuddingpie. George could be a woman called Georgina but as the ‘reviewer’ did not leave a real name, I’ll assume it is a male George and call him ‘he’ to ponder on the veracity of his claims.

I swear it’s true, or is it?

George claims to be a local who parked behind the restaurant and heard what can only be Mat (Follas, BBC Masterchef winner, who runs the Wild Garlic) swear and bad mouth his staff.

You can’t really park directly behind the Wild Garlic. There is a private parking area but it stands closer to the Pizza place. Was it Mat he heard? Did he really hear anybody swear?

He saw “one of the men in chefs white buying pastry from the Coop”. Did they have Wild Garlic written on their whites? Was this man in whites working for the chippie, the Pizza place or the Chinese? Was he buying a bit of pastry for his wife before the rush of evening service?

Does family man = children’s menu?

To say Mat was a family man, I was shocked not to see a childrens menu“. What did he expect? Fish and chips, sausage and chips or burger and chips?

Of course georgeporgepuddingpie is totally entitled to dislike the Wild Garlic or any other establishment. He can have a problem with Mat and his Kiwi ways -supporting the wrong rugby team and all that. After all, Mat is somewhat famous and we know that celebrity status can bring positive and negative consequences in its wake.

Give the chef a chance

The thing is, if the food was cold, why did our anonymous reviewer not send it back? If the mash was unseasoned, did he tell the chef? Why do English people often sit there, say nothing and pay the bill? Why do they not give the business a chance to make amends when there is a problem with the product or the service?

To write an anonymous review on Trip Advisor about a local restaurant is not only cowardly, it sends a very negative message to the world about the local town. If we’ve eaten there, said our bit to the owner and nothing’s changed, then yes, we should review what we thought was a problem for all to see. I bet georgeporgepuddingpie does not run a B&B or a shop.

Are you being serious?

Thankfully for the Wild Garlic, Beaminster and the area, any foodie reading georgeporgepuddingpie’s review is unlikely to take it seriously. As with many Trip Advisor’s reviews with titles like “DISGUSTING !!!” and only one entry from the ‘reviewer’, it doesn’t take much imagination to read between the lines: “I have a hidden agenda”. Whatever that may be.

User generated content websites and personal grudges

The problem is, not everybody knows how to use a ‘user-generated content website’. If there is only one review and no profile, how do you know that the reviewer likes the same things you do? All the same, these often personal grudges are there for all to see, leaving a doubt in the reader’s mind.

The consequences can be very negative for a business; which is exactly what these ‘reviewers’ are looking for. I cannot help but wonder whether the Georges of this world run a business themselves or are always Perfect. Should have called himself Peter.

Is this the way forward for English hotel rating?

There are talks at the moment that the government is thinking about getting rid of the star rating from Visit Britain. The likes of TripAdvisor could replace this costly system.

This little example should be food for thought.

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