If you’ve ever used Opentable to make a restaurant reservation, you’ve probably received an email a few days later asking you to review your meal. However, according to Opentable, if you complain about anything having to do with sanitation and cleanliness, or use a keyword such as “fly”, your review will be discarded.
The review that brought this to light was this: “My husband and I had dinner at Restaurant X before ACT and although the food was very good and the service was adequate, the sanitation and cleanliness of the place left much to be desired. Fruit flies hovered over our plates, dead flies were in the window and the walls and ceiling definitely could use a coat of paint. Although this restaurant is a “legend” and has a long San Francisco historic significance, there is no reason not to keep it looking clean. We enjoyed the food very much, but the lack of ambience certainly took away our desire to eat the great food.”
Inside Scoop SF did some investigating, and received this letter from OpenTable:
In response to your reader’s question, we don’t edit diner reviews, but we do use some screens to filter reviews that may be inappropriate.
The review in question was flagged by our automated system because it contained words that might suggest possible safety issues or health code violations. Given the damage such a claim can cause to a restaurant’s reputation and our inability to verify the facts, our system identifies comments regarding sanitation and cleanliness and keys off words like “fly.”
While comments of this nature are not supported within the review’s text field, in this situation, the diner could give the restaurant a low star rating for “ambience” as well as send a private note, via the field provided, to the restaurant with feedback about her experience.
Not one bit surprised (in fact I suspect it probably goes considerably deeper). Open Table is a for profit business whose clients are the restaurants who buy their reservations systems (and included online marketing presence), not the restaurant patrons who reserve through them.. They’re no more likely to publish negative (particularly gross negative) information about their clients than any other hospitality supplier would be.
One hand shakes the other…unwashed……and so it goes.