- a blog about food and value

Cheapeats in the Huffington Post: TripAdvisor’s fake review problem

Listen up, somebody. Today, I’m blogging on the Huffington Post about the problem of fake online reviews.

My article follows Conor Pope’s excellent article in The Irish Times on the Carlton Group, who were caught red-handed asking their employees to post fake reviews on TripAdvisor.

We’ve some experience of dealing with this problem on this site:

Fake reviews are easy enough to spot on We once had a new commenter recommend a restaurant. They used a fake name but put in their real email address; when we Googled the email, it turned out to be from the head chef of the restaurant in question.

Get over to the Huffington Post and see what we,, and other sites do about this – and how you can avoid getting stung. And no: I won’t be naming any names.


  1. TBH I don’t trust your reviews here as being unbiased as you seem to get free meals at places you review- I take what you write with a pinch of salt, as I do on trip advisor (although I always post my own honest reviews there and dont trust any reviewer that hasnt reviewed many diverse businesses in different locations).

  2. Hi Christopher, I think it’s sensible to take ALL reviews with a pinch of salt. They’re all one person’s opinion, experience, and so on. If you read through our reviews – not that I’m asking or expecting you to, who has the time? – you will see that we very, very clearly state when we have received a free meal or free food (as in the case of the occasional product review). It’s a very clear policy on the site. But it’s incredibly rare that we do get a free meal: I’d say it’s probably happened, at a liberal guess, no more than eight times out of over 200 reviews. Of the last ten, zero meals were free – unless you count a Peploe’s voucher given to me by a friend as a birthday present.

  3. Also, Christopher, I think your approach to TripAdvisor is sensible too: “don’t trust any reviewer that hasnt reviewed many diverse businesses in different locations.”

  4. We’ve just come back from the Carlton in Limerick, not the most fabulous location as it’s outside the city a bit but that made it quiet at night for us and our little kids. It was one of the best we’ve stayed in in Ireland – maybe they were caught red-handed but we thought it was great too – got it on one of those Lidl Breaks things so it was great value and the food, staff and atmosphere was great. I don’t eat salt 🙂

  5. Just like everything else (especially on the interenet) you need to apply a little bit of common sense and savvy when reading reviews.

    Tripadvisor is not perfect (what is) but provides a very useful service – especially once you get a ‘feel’ for how it works.

    Some Irish hoteliers (including a few who tweet regularly) are vehemently anti-tripadvisor. However, if it didn’t exist, all we would have to rely on would be the owners own website. While their own sites may not lie – they are there for marketing purposes – and don’t always reveal the full story from a customer’s POV.

  6. “An internet troll’s opinion should carry no more weight than graffiti:
    The web is full of opinions, but without knowing the authors’ motives for posting them why should we pay them any attention?”

  7. Thanks for the reply Peter and the clarification. A great policy and I do like your reviews and agree with them in the main- that’s why I come back to read.