I read last week that TripAdvisor is being sued under a class action suit in England by a fact checking company. It was on Pauline Frommer's daily blog. You can read about it in length here
Kind of sad another resource we all use turns out to be tainted. I have to believe it is the same in the states and Mexico as well. Recently the Danube Restaurant in Cozumel has dropped from grace with TripAdvisor, as they had too many glowing reviews. TripAdvisor's reviewers (whoever they are) determined that a new restaurant could not have that many excellent reviews, so they have dropped them from #1 to #113 of #114 restaurants in Cozumel. The owner has tried to contact them but to no avail.
So Carey and I put on our thinking caps and tried to help. That is where the tale becomes very dark. First of all, unbeknownst to me until yesterday, TripAdvisor is owned by Expedia .... one of the largest wholesale sellers of airlines tickets and hotels. Isn't this a clear case of conflict of interest? Also, TripAdvisor has the right to put reviews as pending until they post them (or they never post them.) I posted a glowing review that is pending review, so have my friends Gloria and Kandy. Unless you log in to facebook on TripAdvisor's site and are friends with us, you never see these reviews. Yet my cousin wrote a few reviews on Spain restaurants over the last few days, and all of those reviews are posted on their site. They also sometimes post reviews and take them off, back and forth depending on it seems .... the highest bidder? It works like this. TripAdvisor sells membership packages to hotels for $40 a month. Once you are a member, low and behold, your rating shoots way up, or that is the claim in the class action suit.
To muddy the waters even further, in these tough economic times, it seems that some owners are posting horrible reviews on competitor's sites and fake glowing reviews on their sites. TripAdvisor says they can spot the fakes. Well when Carey and I went on to defend Danube Restaurant, their "Destination Experts" ate us for lunch. Said we had ulterior motives and were up to no good, not who we said we were, etc. The sad part is with about two minutes of investigation, they could have qualified us. She is the webmistress of http://www.cozumelmycozumel.com/, a labor of love where she takes no advertising money and only promotes those she believes in. I also have a business here in Cozumel and two blogs that could be verified. The guys beating us up about a restaurant in Cozumel were from Santa Fe, New Mexico and even Canada.
Quite disappointing as I have relied on TripAdvisor over the years when making travel plans. I always knew to take the reviews with a grain of salt as it seems that inexpensive always trumps good quality, but now I know it is much more complicated than that. Any travel site that lists one of the best restaurants in Cozumel as #113 will no longer have my loyalty.
You decide for yourself.