Yelp has been a buzz-worthy topic in the news recently with the passage of the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016. Interestingly enough, it all stemmed from a defamation lawsuit right here in Northern Virginia where a contractor sued a client for posting a negative review about their business. It was declared a draw in court but opened up an impassioned debate about first amendment rights.

The Yelp Bill, as it has become commonly known, protects the consumer’s right to voice their opinions about services rendered on user-generated review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. It also prohibits the incorporation of contractual “gag clauses” which businesses use to silence  clients who might feel did not receive exceptional service.

Despite this being a huge win for consumers, I still feel somewhat disappointed that the Yelp Bill’s scope of protection does not safeguard us from the verbal diarrhea of certain Yelpers. The following are the worst offenders:

  1. Starting a review with “I really wanted to like this place” — Did you, really? You went to a restaurant with the full intention of enjoying your overall dining experience? I don’t believe you. Come on, man! Who, in their right mind, ever goes out to eat expecting a hole in the wall environment with Johnny Waiter incompetently screwing up their order then bringing out an under-salted, mediocre meal? If you answered “no one”, you would be right. You would be so unbelievably right you’d be the Tea Party Movement. So why would anyone even bother prefacing their review with an utterly nonsensical statement? I guess I just cant expect common sense to be that common in people.
  2. Using the phrase “I wanted to find something wrong but couldn’t” — Different wording. Same idiotic concept. You managed to stay away from “I really wanted to like this place”. Congratulations! But you use this instead?! Listen, I get it. You had a wonderful meal in every way imaginable. But are you telling me you actually had a premeditated motive to not have a good time? You, in reality, wanted a perfectly nice evening ruined with the discovery of hair in your food, rat poop on the floor, or a socially inept waiter?  If you’ve ever been guilty of uttering these words and then one day find yourself having a catastrophic epicurean experience, I don’t want to hear you whine about it in your review, because, you got exactly what you were asking for.
  3. Complaining about expensive prices — You do realize there’s a place called Mcdonalds. Or Burger King. Or Wendy’s. Or Chipotle. Shall I go on? I came across this little number in an actual Yelp review:
    “…the prices are not worth it!! My boyfriend ordered a swordfish steak that  was smaller          than the palm of my hand. Not worth the $28 when I can buy a 3x larger, $8.99/lb         swordfish steak at the grocery store.”
    Wow! Where do I begin? First of all, I don’t know how big or how small your palms are. Are we talking Shaquille O’Neal or Peter Dinklage? Either way, if you’re going to compare the size of your mate’s swordfish steak to the price per pound at your local supermarket then why didn’t you just stay home and fix dinner for him yourself? How dare a business mark up their prices to — gasp! — turn a profit. How dare they try to make money to pay their chef, servers, and design team to create an impeccable dining atmosphere for their guests. Shame on them for taking the burden upon themselves of creating a menu, executing a thoughtful dish, and standing on their feet all day to serve you. Those intangibles, surely, can’t cost money and couldn’t possibly be worked into the price of a swordfish steak!
  4. Complaining about food taking a long time to come out — Do you need to absolutely be somewhere — other than the bathroom — after dinner? Are you not enjoying the company of your partner? You know Europeans sometimes spend up to 4 hours in a restaurant? In a world where we’re endlessly swamped with deadlines, rushing to and from work, and hurrying annoying mini-me’s like myself off to bed, why would people even think of rushing their own enjoyment? It’s somewhat hypocritical for us as Americans, who constantly preach the ideals of slow food, to throw shade at the very movement we claim to be advocating if our food isn’t on the table in less than five minutes. Yes, the slow food movement is synonymous with fresh, healthy, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. But it’s also about taking time out to enjoy life’s simpler things, starting at the dinner table. That includes the company you keep, the conversations, and the interactions. It is the absolute antithesis to fast food. So who cares if you had to wait 20 minutes for your seasonal wild mushroom risotto. Enjoy the person sitting across from you until your food comes out for crying out loud!So there you have it. Public enemy numbers one, two, three, and four of restaurant reviewing.   I’m just learning how to read but after realizing all the nonsense being written I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t. If only Yelp could delete accounts for reasons of stupidity.
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