HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


A company is selling "reviewer" cards to people who want preferential treatment.

The world is getting more insane by the second!



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. I wish I could unread that article . . .that business owner is just wrong on so many levels.

      1 Reply
      1. The whole point of NOT identifying yourself as a reviewer is so you recieve the same treatment that everyone else does so your readers know what to expect. Pathetic.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PotatoHouse

          I agree.

          Though I use OpenTable often, and enjoy their processes, I worry about my "status." If I plan on doing a review, I want to be treated, like everyone else - walk-in to returning patron. Sometimes, I do wonder.

          That need for doing a 100% objective review, is one reason that I hesitate with restaurants, that I have reviewed before, and those, where I am known.

          Often, a tough call.


        2. Yes...in fact, that should be an indicator to the restaurant owner: anyone waving a "business card" and claiming to be a reviewer....isn't.

          1. I would LOVE to see how "special" the service is for the d-bags who whip out this card.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LeoLioness

              <<I would LOVE to see how "special" the service is for the d-bags who whip out this card.>>

              Obviously, you are referring to "doggie bags... ?"


            2. I applaud anyone who comes up with a dumb idea that makes them money and roll my eyes at anyone stupid enough to buy one.

              3 Replies
              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                So, you made a mint on "Pet Rocks?"


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Before my time, unfortunately, but maybe I'll try bringing them back.

                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                    The modern iteration is exorbitantly priced stone cubes to freeze, for those who want their drink literally "on the rocks."

              2. Extortion.

                This is prima facie extortion, in my opinion.

                Sadly, I'm neither a judge nor a lawyer.

                DISCLAIMER: I own a restaurant. If some as***le approached me or one of my staff with one of these, they'd wait in line -- in the order they arrived. Unless I was feeling particularly vindictive that evening. I might make some "fun" at the "cardholder"'s expense.

                17 Replies
                1. re: shaogo

                  I am a CT lawyer (as I posted before). This issuing of the cards is not extortion. However, they may be used by the holder in an attempt to extort. Such as the example of getting the 400 Euro room for 200 Euros based on a review.

                  That said, if the cardholder merely promises a review in exchange for a discount, then no extortion takes place, it is merely a tool used to negotiate a price. If the card bearer says that if you don't give me 'better service or price' because I will post a bad review, then it is extortion.

                  The bigger question to be answered is whether or not the card identifying the holder as a 'reviewer' is fraudulent. The issuer says he screens those requesting the cards to see the frequency of their reviews, etc. That's fine, BUT the issuer also gives cards to those who travel and the issuer thinks might benefit from the cards and maybe review. If the holder has no intent of reviewing theestablishment but uses the card to gain faster access, better service and freebies, then the use is fraudulent.

                  In any case, I agree with treating the holder of one of these cards with general disdain and would afford no special treatment.

                  The issuer sounds like the kid in high school who made a business in 'black market' hall and elevator passes.

                  1. re: bagelman01

                    Thanks so much for the legal nuts and bolts. That's why you're an attorney and I'm a restaurateur.

                    I understand clearly that the actual issuer has committed no crime; he finds sellers who're qualified somehow (he aggregates their reviews and somehow confirms that they were the actual makers of the reviews). It's up to the card-purchaser to actually commit the extortion. However, in the age of Yelp, I'd hazard a guess that certain people would be delighted to carry their on-line mayhem into the "real world". I hope that some of the card-bearers are prosected (but I know that won't happen until a lot of businesspeople are hurt).

                    Kindly give me your telephone number or the number of a good criminal-law attorney 'cause I'm gonna need some representation if one of these idiots presents one of these cards at my place. I will not only ask he or she to leave, but I may commit a crime upon their person (is that legalese for giving them a pop in the eye?)

                    Thanks for the clarification!

                    1. re: shaogo

                      While I may not condone violence and/or breaking the law, I was in both the retail and restaurant/catering business. Any idiot presenting such a card would be invited to shop/dine elsewhere and refused service. That discrimination is not based on any banned/protected group (race, sex, religion, national origin, etc.) Assholes have no constitutional protection and should be shown the door post haste.

                      1. re: bagelman01

                        Thanks for that recommendation. I second it. Also, you're the lawyer but perhaps you don't know that if one has a Connecticut Liquor Permit, you can ask *any* person to leave and be exempt from any claim of racism, sexism, etc. Did you know that? It has to do with the "conduct of a permitted premises..." Thanks again, bageldude!

                        1. re: shaogo

                          Problem is CT liqour authority regulations do not trump federal discrimination clauses for protected classes. So you have to make sure that you (meaning any permittee, not Paul) doesn't show a pattern of asking many XXX to leave, as opposed to everyone who misbehaves.

                          Whe in doubt, throw em out, and videotape the episode.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Wow. I gotta talk to my atty. The people at the Liquor Division at CT Consumer Protection led me to believe, several times, that indeed the right to operate a safe/sane permitted premises *does* trump protected classes, so long as when I ask a person to leave, I don't say "get out you (insert racial/homophobic/etc. epithet)" and only say "I'm very sorry but I can't serve you. You can have a glass of ice-water or you can leave." or something like that...

                            1. re: shaogo

                              The problem isn't about any ONE individual that you ask to leave based on safe/sane premises standard, BUT if over a period of time you ask a number of people to leave and a large percentage of those are fom a protected class you are looking at a disciminaton charge/suit.
                              The people at the Liqour division may both mean well and understand how the State may view discrimination claims brought in state court, BUT they are clueless to claims brought in Federal Court.

                              Just an example to ponder. If you ask 40 people to leave in a year and 30 are females, there would be a state claim that might be viable as Connecticut passed an Equal Rights Amendment to the State Constitution decades ago. BUT here would be NO Federal claim that could be brought as the Federal Equal Rights mendment failed and females are not a protected class.

                              The best thing to do when asking patrons to leave based on behavior is to log the incident and the offending behavior.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                Thanks so much for the details, bagel-dude!

                                I understand what you're saying. The way we do things, it'd only be a freak of coincidence if any one protected class were to become significant. We thought that given the demographic of the neighborhood it might appear that, in keeping tabs on the safety and comfort of our customers, we'd ejected an inordinate number of a certain class (race basically) but when examining incidents on a whole it turns out that there are disruptive idiots in *every* protected class (yeah, we even had to ask a gay 4-top to leave 'cause they were over-served and they threatened to give the Hartford Courant a discrimination story -- that was a tough one 'cause I'm a big proponent of gay rights).

                                I'm also surprised to find out that women aren't a protected class in CT. How times change, eh?

                                1. re: shaogo

                                  Women ARE a protected class in CT state courts, NOT in Federal courts.

                                  BTW, it's good to see you back and active on CH again. I look forward to a drive upstate to visit you at your new restaurant

                                2. re: bagelman01

                                  Who has the burden of proof here, BM? How can a claimant prove that you kicked out x number of people for the same reason? IS the barkeep supposed to keep a log?

                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    A good plaintiff's attorney both use the discovery process (depositions, etc) and send in mystery shoppers/diners and see if there is a pattern to the refusal of service.

                                    If the government is making the complaint, the accused almost has to prove their innocence. That's because the charge will be brought through an adminstrative law process and not the court system. Example: moving to revoke your liquor license by the issuing authority with an administrative hearing. Different rules than the courts and one cannot appeal to the court system until ALL administrative processes have been exhausted.
                                    That's why I suggested that the establishment lof refusals of service and video them if possible.

                                    Things have come a long way from when you and I were young in Connecticut and it was illegal for a female to stand (or sit) within 3 feet of a bar in a restaurant or other licensed establishment. Nevr mind when females could only eat lunch in the dining room at the Colonial House on Saturdays (mon-Friday males only).
                                    And when I was 12 I could throw adult females off the tennis courts weekdays before 3PM at Oak Lane. This continued for a long time, as Woodbridge was a dry town and the liqour authorities at no sway over private country clubs that used a 19th hole system to sell members their own liquor.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      Have the liquor laws changes that much? My family owned a package store in Meriden. Back then (40's-50's), we couldn't sell anything other than soda, beer, wine and liquor. No snacks or convenience items. Is that still the same?

                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                        substantial changes this past year to include snack foods AND Sundau sales. Now only one state left in the USA banning Sunday alcohol sales by the bottle

                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                          I'm surprised that the change is so recent. I thought places like 7-11 have been selling everything there for years.

                            2. re: bagelman01

                              Why throw them out? Why not just tell them that you're not participating in the program and their card is not valid there and they will have to pay just like everyone else. Asshole money is just as green as yours.

                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                Why throw them out? Because if a proprietor turns them down, the cardholder starts with a chip on his/her shoulder and is apt to post a 'colored' review even if your food and service are up to the expected standard.

                                OTOH, no one would pay credence to an online review that says "I was turned away when I attempted to use my "Official" on-line reviewer's card" readers would just laugh at the blogger.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  You'd be surprised how few people actually research the Yelpers that they read. There are cranky losers Yelping restaurants (they've never been to) in their mommy's basement just 'cause life's handed them a bad deal. Their pans of a place can be very convincing, that is, until one reads their entire body of writing and discovers that they're *never* happy.

                      2. Check the thread by hyacinthgirl and her quandry on a potentially racist restaurant owner. Lots concerning discrimination also.

                        1. I used to be fairly active on Yelp about 5/6 years ago. They actually did hand out little cards to us at events that said, I believe, "You've Been Yelped."

                          I have no doubt that there were people who used them to get freebies and whatnot. Of course, the difference was that we didn't have to pay $100 for the cards. We just had to provide them a shitload of free content they then used to make millions of dollars! Whee! :-/

                          1. This axis that this so-called business revolves around owes its legitimacy to what I consider P.T. Barnum's First Law of Economics. It is essentially a handshake between two different kinds of snake oil salesmen. I consider what Shaogo says is by far the best take on what this is all about. Of course, years of reading Shaogo's posts has given me tremendous respect for his experience and opinion.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Tripeler

                              You're too kind. Wow. Opinions I have a lot of -- anyone does. Experience I have only 'cause I haven't change careers, and I haven't died.

                              1. re: shaogo

                                Obviously you have not taken the easy route in going about what you have accomplished, and to me this is recognizable. Take credit for your open and generous posts -- they are appreciated by many more than just myself.

                                1. re: Tripeler

                                  Oh, dear *blushes*.

                                  Thank you so much! I have the warm fuzzies -- and I'm gonna hold on to 'em all day long!

                            2. So, what's to stop someone from printing their own card?

                              1 Reply
                              1. I'm amused that there's such hostility to this. But what is a food blogger other than a self-appointed reviewer? Might as well carry the card - it formalises their supreme importance.

                                Of course, in the case of many of the more popular bloggers, they've already proceeded past that intermediate stage, and have no need for a card in order to extract free meals. They're so notorious and venerable that meals are received in the natural course of being perfect promotional tools.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mugen

                                  I don't think it's hostility so much as indignation at a business owner who basically has no ethics and sees nothing wrong with seeking preferential treatment in exchange for his positive reviews and then taking it a step further by selling a card to people in some attempt to legitimize them and encourage an entire horde of others to do the same... or in his words "that's one way of looking at it."

                                2. heh -- the article says he came across a French waiter who gave a rat's ass?

                                  I call baloney.

                                  1. Someone just told me about a local place that gives you a discount on your order if you show them you gave them a 5-starr Yelp review. Actually I don't think this (or the card) is any worse than the garbage Yelp seems to pull with places that refuse to buy ads from them. Lots better really.

                                    1. "It's not a threat," Newman insisted. "It's a way to get the service you deserve."


                                      It was during a trip to France last year that he had the brainstorm for ReviewerCard. As Newman tells it, he was at a restaurant ordering breakfast and was treated rudely by the waiter when he asked for green tea with his meal instead of ordinary tea.

                                      Newman expressed his displeasure. He told the waiter that he planned to post a negative review on TripAdvisor.

                                      "The next thing I knew, the waiter was back with the manager, who apologized and offered to pay for my breakfast," Newman recalled.

                                      Soooooo.....in OTHER WORDS, it was a threat. What an idiot.

                                      Interestingly, someone commented on the OP's linked article and said "Just thought I would share with you all, that as a yelp user, I have noticed that Mr. Newman's yelp account has been closed. Presumably for a violation of the ToS. And therein is the problem, anyone using this "card" is immediately suspect. Though it can't be viewed now, Mr. Newman had the rather curious rating distribution of 77 five star reviews out of 83 reviews total. With a distribution like that, I personally would not take any of those reviews as credible (maybe he was trying to prove his card works). Fortunately, we'll never know, at least not on yelp."