Tripadvisor Troll ordered to pay restaurant owner £ 7,500 for posting false negative reviews
An online troll recently posted a number of fake negative restaurant reviews on Tripadvisor, not realizing the owner had a Cambridge law degree. Whoops.
Martin Stewart Potts was brought to justice for his “hate campaign” and has since been ordered to pay Â£ 7,455 ($ 9,881) to Steve Hoddy, the knowledgeable owner of Bispham Kitchen in Blackpool.
Potts posted a total of ten bitter reviews of the restaurant, which included claims the food made him, his wife and children sick. He also stated that the haddock was in fact “catfish” and their fries were “fried in burnt oil” which was found to be false.
His actions then backfired horribly after Hoddy, a trained lawyer with a first-class degree from the prestigious university, decided to go back.
At a hearing in July, Judge Sephton ruled that Potts was guilty of malicious lying and ordered him to pay the compensation sum to the owner.
Speaking after the verdict, Hoddy commented on how “prevalent” trolling has become, adding: “It is becoming a pandemic in itself. It is destroying businesses.
âI have owned Bispham Kitchen for 44 years now and my business is strong enough to withstand this kind of nonsense.
“But especially for hotels, it’s a real problem because people really take notice of hotel reviews because they spend more money. It’s the bane of modern society.”
He went on to discuss Potts who “used eight different usernames”, explaining, “He put the review first, and he said,” The owner looks at you weird when you try to eat your fish and chips, not a great experience “.”
After responding to the advisory, Hoddy – who is the general manager of six restaurants and one take-out restaurant – said it only seemed to provoke Potts in a series of criticisms over the next two weeks.
Luckily, the business owner knew what to watch out for and noticed the same spelling mistakes in several editorials.
After realizing that Potts had written a hundred reviews of other places using four different usernames, he decided to face the troll.
He said: “I handed him a letter warning him that unless he apologizes for the criticism, I will sue him for malicious lies.”
At first, Potts denied any involvement.
“But when I presented him with compelling evidence, he dribbled the confession, but still resisted the case,” Hoddy added. . “
Hoddy said the case shows how easy it is for malicious trolls to hide their identities on websites like Tripadvisor.
He said: âYou can’t go anywhere with Tripadvisor to get them to reveal the identities of reviewers.
“One of their terms and conditions is that any dispute with Tripadvisor must be resolved in court in Massachusetts, where they are based, so you will need to travel to the United States.”
At the time, the businessman contacted Tripadvisor to report that the reviews could not be correct and the website subsequently deleted the comments.
He explained that most companies wouldn’t be able to mount a successful malicious lie because they are “complicated and expensive.”
Fortunately, in this case, he was able to use the knowledge and skills he had learned in college, adding, âI enjoyed doing it, it was what I was trained for.
“But I didn’t do it for the money, it was for the principle – to send a message to those who think they can harm a business or a personal reputation at will.”
A UK spokesperson for Tripadvisor, based in Needham, Mass., Said: âTripadvisor takes the issue of fraud very seriously and we use the best human moderation technologies and practices to combat it.
âOur advice to business owners and consumers is simple: If you see a review that raises suspicion or violates any of our guidelines, please report it to us.
“Our team will then investigate and act accordingly.”