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Why one small business actually WANTS bad Yelp reviews

Why one small business actually WANTS bad Yelp reviews
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

If you run a business, you know that good online reviews can keep you in the black - bad ones can be a death sentence. You won't believe how far some business owners will go to protect their online reputations. Some people have even been sued for leaving negative reviews on the Internet!

There's a right way and a wrong way to handle a bad review on your business' website or Yelp page. And then there's this way:

Botto Bistro is encouraging all of its customers to leave one-star Yelp reviews; it is even offering deals for anyone who pens a crummy review: 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class.

That's right, this San Francisco restaurant is trying to become the worst-reviewed restaurant on Yelp. The owners of Botto Bistro kept receiving 15-20 solicitations each week to advertise on Yelp. So they tried it out for six months before canceling. That's when they noticed that their generally positive reviews started to vanish and their overall rating began tumbling.

Businesses like Botto Bistro can't control what people say about them online. They can't even control whether they appear on Yelp or not. That's when they thought of a clever way to protest Yelp's mafia tactics. Owner Davide Cerretini told SF Gate:

“I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious,” says Cerretini. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants.”

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