the places I visit on the island paradise where I live

Sep 12, 2011

TripAdvisor Exposed

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, 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.


  1. I'm with you, Luh. This has been very disappointing and upsetting. Danube certainly did not deserve such treatment, and on wonders who else's business has been irreparably harmed by these types of behavior from TripAdvisor.

  2. Kandy, you are so right. It really is scary. The obviously fake post has been removed. I did report it to TripAdvisor and they have removed it but not the score it got, which was a 0. To add to that, 60 good reviews were removed and only the same 7 reviews show up. All be can do is get the word out and boycott TripAdvisor. Too bad I booked and paid for a room on Expedia last week as it was $250 usd less than the hotel's website, but I will not book with them again. According to the UK site, that is exactly why they have the class action suit - irreparable damage to their businesses that never gets resolved. I mean that fake bad review was so obviously fake it was scary. Yet Carey and I got attacked that we were definitely up to no good when we tried to set the record straight. I can send you the link for the thread where they went after us. Horrible.