Here’s why posting bad reviews on Zomato is the new go to threat

Dress code: Strictly formal! If you get an invite like this, or if you see this outside a restaurant, would you still barge in wearing slippers and a tee? Well, some don’t mind doing that and if denied entry, their favourite threat is, “We’ll give you bad reviews on food portals.”

A few months ago, HT City was the first to report how restaurateurs are being blackmailed with bad reviews, and customers getting personal.

The latest to bear the brunt is Lord Of The Drinks, a casual dining lounge in Connaught Place. After the place refused entry to a customer in rubber slippers on Halloween Night (October 31), the customer, as threatened, posted a bad review. “Being a chilled out Saturday evening we were in our floaters and bermudas…. But didn’t know it’s NOT ALLOWED !!!!!!!! The person at the desk was damn rude and told us we cannot enter in open shoes. When asked where it’s mentioned, they had no answer. We revolted, but a certain Mohit from their management started abusing and asked us to leave (sic),” reads the post by Vishal Bhatia.

Priyank Sukhija, the owner of the place, begs to differ, “Customers should be more ethical about what they write. We don’t allow slippers and shorts on Friday and Saturday nights. Customers should ask club rules while making reservations. Rubber chappals certainly don’t go on a Halloween night. We politely declined them entry and not in a derogatory fashion, as reported. Food reviewing websites are a powerful tool,” he tells us. Sukhija adds, “Why don’t people respect bar policies, accept it gracefully and make sure that they follow it. If this was London or New York they would stand in a queue, get dressed and talk nicely. Why not in Delhi?”

Despite repeated attempts, the people at Zomato were unavailable for a comment.

Restaurateur Shiv Karan Singh speaks in defence of his clan. “Everyone has the right to admission reserved on property. For me, stags and troublemakers are not allowed. Unfortunately, these people have the right to butcher us on public platforms. If you are going out, you must be presentable. Gymkhana Club, Golf Club, Friends Club, everybody has their own rules like no slippers, no tees without collars, etc.,” he says.

Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent says door policy should be mentioned on the website. “International restaurants always mention their dress codes on their website. I was once denied entry at The Ritz London as I was not wearing proper shoes. In my restaurant, as long as no one is dressed in dirty clothes, stained shoes, it’s ok,” he says. As for food reviews, Mehrotra adds, “Restaurants should take negative feedback positively if it’s a genuine complaint. If it’s incorrect, ignore it because the chain of arguments is never-ending.”

As far as customers go, a tool like Zomato helps them voice their concerns. “I visited this a really popular pub in Delhi. When I asked the usher for a table for three, he said, ‘Sir, it’s Rs 3,000 per person’. Did he just look at our clothes and assume we won’t be able to afford it? I complained to the manager and also posted the incident on Zomato. Owners of restaurants should know how their staff behaves with customers,” says Neha Malude, a reviewer.

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