Nova Scotia

Small cafe claims it's the victim of cyberbullying

The owners of a Halifax area cafe says they're being cyberbullied by a customer with a grudge.

The Herring Cove, N.S. business says online rating being dragged down by 'cyberbully'

Christopher Webb, co-owner of Pavia Gallery said he believes all the negative ratings come from one person — someone who was kicked out of the cafe for making rude remarks. (CBC)

The owners of a Halifax area cafe says they're being cyberbullied by a customer with a grudge.

Recently, the owners of Pavia Gallery in Herring Cove, N.S. started seeing one-star ratings on restaurant review websites such as Yelp, Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor.

Christopher Webb, co-owner of Pavia Gallery said he believes all the negative ratings come from one person — someone who was kicked out of the cafe for making rude remarks.

At first the cafe ignored them, but the negative reviews kept coming.

"That's something you can do. You can create as many profiles as you want, and review. And again, it's never about negative reviews — it's about something that's a little vindictive. Almost like cyber-bullying," said Webb.

Co-owner Victoria Fougler said they suspect it's the same person because the reviews have the same complaints and the same writing style.

"It's not just on Yelp, it's on Google, he went onto the Coast, he went onto Trip Advisor — he systematically went through all the review sites, and posted the exact same review," she said.

"You have to ask yourself, as a business owner, what can you do about that?" said Webb.

Kristen Whisenand at Yelp said their reviews are filtered by an automated review algorithm.

The algorithm is not powered by people and it is not instant but it attempts to filter out reviews which are unfair or unconstructive.

If business owners feel they've received an unfair review that violates Yelp's content guidelines, they can flag it and contact a support person at Yelp, and Yelp's team will take a look at the review to decide if it's fair.

The owners of Pavia said they've done that twice and both times have received excellent help from Yelp. They don't think it's the fault of Yelp or any other website, they just said it's a problem that small business owners have to face.

Kathy Colaiacovo, marketing director at Time on Task Virtual Assistant Services, recommends responding to cyber bullies in a way that gives a good impression to other people online.

"You really want to let other people know that you're addressing the situation. So you don't want to ignore it, but you don't want to drag yourself down into a knock-down, drag-out, back-and-forth, he-said-she-said online either," said Colaiacovo.

Trevor Delaney, a patron of Pavia Gallery, said he learned about the cafe through social media. He said he tries not to let one bad review influence him.

"For the most part if they're positive, and there's a few negatives mixed in, I'll come in. It's not going to stop me," he said.

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