Online review sites offer what appears to be helpful information. But it’s not always reliable.
Just a few days ago, Italian authorities fined TripAdvisor $600,000 for failing to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site’s content as “authentic and genuine.”
Alina Novak’s complaint had a familiar ring to it. While she was searching for an inexpensive round-trip ticket from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on TripAdvisor.com, she stumbled upon a $177 airfare.
Online reviews are great sources for information about a hotel or restaurant — except when they’re not. Here’s how to spot a fake.
Don’t believe everything you read online, especially on user-generated review websites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp, which claim to help you find the best hotels and restaurants.
At least that’s the standard warning issued repeatedly by travel experts for the last decade. The ratings are rigged by hotel or restaurant operatives, or by unhappy patrons trying to shame a business, they say. Since the sites make no meaningful efforts to stop these bogus posts, all the so-called user-generated sites should be ignored when you’re planning your next trip.
TripAdvisor is a regrettable by-product of the information revolution whose user-generated ratings too often hurt travelers and travel companies more than they help.
As I’ve noted in the past, the company cynically monetizes the labor of its unpaid contributors while making virtually no effort to verify its reviews.
TripAdvisor doesn’t promise its readers much, but the least it can do is to live up to the few guarantees it makes.
Even so, when I heard from Ellen Garland, who charged the company with allowing a hotel in Anguilla to brazenly game its ratings, I didn’t want to go there.