Depending on your point of view, this is either a story that gets a laugh or will cause you to distrust every review site in existence.
Current Vice writer Oobah Butler talked about getting paid by restaurant owners to write up a positive review of their restaurant, despite never going there. It’s done to pad the rating a bit and hopefully get some more business once people see their high rating.
So to kind of see how far she could take this, Butler decided to create a fake restaurant in the shed of her house. Creating a fake menu, posting pics of fake dishes, a website and owning a burner phone so she had a real number for this “restaurant,” Butler got “The Shed at Dulwich” on TripAdvisor as the newest appointment-only restaurant in London.
Utilizing fake reviews from actual people from different computers (to not raise suspicion from TripAdvisor’s end), Butler went from 18,149 to the top rated restaurant in London in just six months, only using fake reviews. In the process, Butler was getting calls from all around the world about wanting a reservation. The exclusivity of it being near impossible to get a reservation (wonder why) and the lack of an address made it sound like dining at The Shed was the ultimate dining experience.
It turned out, once the restaurant became the top restaurant, the story of the fake restaurant took a turn when Butler decided to actually have a night where people would be over to dine. Filled with a mix of friends to keep up the atmosphere and actual customers, Butler turned her fake restaurant into a real restaurant from her shed.
The entire story is a great and hilarious read. It doesn’t do as much about fake reviews on review apps and sites. It does show that sometimes people value things because of their exclusivity and when they finally get in, appreciate the experience. I mean, you could go to some normal restaurant and have a meal but you could go to The Shed at Dulwich and have a story you can share about spending a bizarre evening in the shed of someone’s residence having macaroni and cheese.
[Vice/Photo: Theo McInnes/Vice]