January 22, 2013

If there’s one thing that both professional critics and restaurants and hotels alike can agree upon, it’s that you’re an idiot. Well, maybe not you specifically, unless of course you’re an avid user of Yelp or Trip Adviser or other such sites, the internet services that have revolutionized the passive-aggressive tattling-based consumer entitlement interaction model. A new start up from a California man named Brad Newman, (with, you will be in no way surprised to learn, an extremely punchable face), aims to take that relationship to the next level.

ReviewerCard, as this thorough undressing in the LA Times points out, is an extortion-based system whereby its members stroll into a restaurant or hotel, point a gun at the server or concierge’s face, and say “give me some free shit or else.” That’s more or less how it works, the gun is actually a black card that says douchebag ReviewerCard on it, and it serves as an alert to the business that they’re dealing with an extremely entitled baby who can’t function in society without everything being tailored exactly to their specific needs.

That’s exactly the type of ethics-barren review system that services like Yelp engender, and exactly what professional critics like myself (I SEEM MAD), have been complaining about for years.

“I’m going to review them anyway,” Newman said, “so why not let them know in advance? It’s not hurting anyone.”

You sure about that? David Lazarus has a few suggestions:

No one, that is, except businesses that face the implicit threat of a negative review if they don’t lavish special attention on the ReviewerCard holder.

No one except review sites like Yelp that find themselves being used as leverage for an unaffiliated reviewer’s personal gain.

No one except readers of ReviewerCard holder reviews who may not know that the reviewer received preferential treatment to ensure a glowing write-up.

No one except other customers who may have had to wait longer for a table or couldn’t get a room because they didn’t have the temerity to make the upfront threat of a scathing online takedown.

Newman disagrees. “It’s not a threat…It’s a way to get the service you deserve.”

Perhaps it is. Here’s to hoping that Newman, and the rest of you Yelpers, end up getting exactly what you deserve.

Complain to the manager at @lukeoneil47

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