Reviewer Card Holder Brad Newman, Yelp Gansta’

Yelp Extortion Goes Legit

I have someone to thank today.

Working many years under the scrutiny of online review sites such a Yelp, I have developed a certain opinion of online reviewers. How could I not, when the fine minds of the internetz have brought us outstanding pieces of criticism such as the following:

  • 1 star- Annoying hipster restaurant with hipster staff. I’ve never eaten there but I walk past it every day. Could be good
  • 1 star- The waiter was soooo rude. He wouldn’t let me eat Chex Mix at the table! I don’t see what the problem was, we were spending money on drinks
  • 1 star- They might sell “organic, grass fed” burgers here, but don’t be fooled. Meat is still murder, and this business is marketing their product to children, to get them hooked young, much like a drug pusher…

*These are all based on actual reviews. The real ones were longer and possibly written by people who flunked fourth grade English.

From the negligent to the outright malicious, many reviewers have tried their best to besmirch the integrity of review sites. The general public seems only vaguely aware of this problem, while business owners have been waving their hands around saying “help!” for a while.

Yet one man could potentially change all of this- One man whose force of douche is so strong he might bring down the internet review shakedown game in one big wave of backlash. I present this man and his invention, the Reviewer Card, which you can own for 100 dollars and a few active review accounts:

The official card of douches everywhere

The official card of douches everywhere

Brad Newman is a man with a vision. A vision where a person can be treated like a movie star with the flash of a card. “I’m a reviewer,” this card says to the business owners of the world. “You must respect my authori-ty.” He doesn’t see anything wrong with getting discounts on hotel rooms, skipping lines ahead of regular customers or getting free food because he is inherently threatening business owners. He is simply “getting the service he deserves.”

Here is the promo video for the card (it’s real and not a parody, I swear):

According to the LA Times, Mr. Newman, who claims to have invented Facebook before Facebook, has long had an entrepreneurial spirit. He came up with the idea for the reviewer card when he was in a restaurant in France and had trouble getting the right kind of tea. He told the waiter that he would write a nasty Trip Advisor review and ended up with his meal comped. “How can I get more free stuff?” he must have immediately pondered.

I’ve watched Yelp extortion grow more bold over the years, to the point where many customers will insist on gift cards or other freebies in exchange for “staying quiet.” Even Yelp will badger business owners, offering to “bury” bad reviews for their advertisers; conversely if a business chooses not to advertise with Yelp, their good reviews can be filtered out from their ratings. The reviewer card seems to be the next logical step in this evolution.

From what I’ve seen so far, the reviewer card is in trouble. The internets, Mr. Newman, are not amused. Maybe, just maybe, this kerfuffle could help people be more aware of the rights of business owners to make a living, or of their own personal responsibility when attacking an establishment on a review site. It’s a happy thought for me, that this man’s act of douchery could transform into positive change.

But wait, would that mean the internet would have to grow up?

Oh hell…

I'd be surprised if anyone has the guts to flash these cards around

I’d be surprised if anyone has the guts to flash these cards around

Update: I’ve been so exhausted the last few days, I totally spaced on thanking Brett Minor and the guys at Dude Write for a Chairman’s Choice Award in the Dudette Write contest. It was lots of fun to participate, plus I found a bunch of new good blogs to read! Thanks again!

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  1. I used to own a tattoo shop and met people like this. They would threaten to call the paper and give bad reviews all the time. The complaint was always about money. It was true that we were the most expensive in town, but we also did the highest quality work. If they didn’t want to pay our prices, there were other places they could go and get what they paid for.
    Brett Minor (@brettminor) recently posted…Finding Your Funny Bone #13My Profile

  2. Why do you waste your time reading public “review” forums? They shouldn’t be trusted. Everyone has an agenda. I always assume the positive spins are applied by people associated with the business and body slams are from malcontents who can find no good in anything. It’s a blizzard of nonsense. I’ve never been on Yelp and am not even sure what it is. I suppose that makes me draconian but it’s the truth.

    I think you’ve been had. I’m betting that Brad works for The Onion and they’re going to see how far they can take this.
    The Unbearable Banishment recently posted…A powder keg with a lit fuse in my basementMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      You are seriously missing out on some train wreck comedy if you haven’t perused some one star Yelps :P
      There should be a special card made for people like you: The Non-Reviewer Card, which states: “I don’t Yelp. If I have a problem I will respectfully inform management of the problem instead of making an asshat out of myself on the internet.” This card would have the staff falling over themselves to give you the best service.
      I only wish this whole thing weren’t real:

  3. Pat Hatt says:

    Yeah reviews are fickle indeed, as many aren’t even true, as you say. This douche of an idea also makes it worse, hopefully something positive will come of it.
    Pat Hatt recently posted…The Wonders Are Found All Around!My Profile

  4. This isn’t any different from Amazon book reviews, so I can relate. It’s already hard enough to try to find people to buy our books, without 1 star gems such as “I don’t ever read zombie books because I hate them, so I didn’t like this book, but if you like zombie stories then you will absolutely love this.” (Real review) Then why did you read it in the first place, dipshit, and why did you feel the need to give it 1 star if people browsing this book (and therefore probably wanting to find a good zombie story) would “absolutely love it” ???

    So… we both can feel your pain.

    • winopants says:

      Because there’s zero sense of responsibility by faceless internet reviewers. They are completely detached from how they can impact small businesses, or in your case, authors.

  5. Misty says:

    Wow, he even really truly LOOKS like a douche. Like if anyone still used dictionaries, and there was a picture next to “douche” it would be that guy.

    The good think about Yelp is that eventually, if enough people comment, you don’t have the negative comments effect the positive comments as much, as long as there are sufficient positive comments. I’m sure they can be manipulated, like you said, but for most it probably averages out. But I can see how it would be frustrating to be judged by idiots that can’t even hardly write words correctly, let alone know what decent service is. I’m so glad Yelp didn’t exist when I was a waitress. So many years ago!
    Misty recently posted…When Viruses AttackMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      For a busier restaurant like ours, the oddball one star review goes pretty unnoticed. Even with Yelp filtering out about 60 or so of our 5 star reviews, we average 4 stars. We’d probably be at 4.5 if we advertised with them.
      The problem is for small businesses. If a small group of individuals decides to target a particular business they can really dirty up their reputation. I’ve heard of people going out of business because of this.

  6. Oh my gosh, what a dillweed! People would actually do that?? Scum of the earth. He deserves to get his food secretly spit in.
    Natalie the Singingfool recently posted…GaslightMy Profile

  7. Business owners should get together and simply ban anyone with a review card from entering their premises. This prickface Brad Newman should be refused entry at so many places that he has to wear false whiskers whenever he wants to eat out. Isn’t there a way of responding to his reviews so that people know he can’t be trusted?
    Gorilla Bananas recently posted…Another porn addict?My Profile

    • winopants says:

      At a certain point business owners need to stand up for themselves and refuse to be bullied anymore. You should have seen the look on my bosses face when I showed him the LA times article. I’m not sure what will happen to this guy if restaurant owners start to recognize him, but let’s just say that in some less polite establishments he might come out missing some teeth

  8. Andrew says:

    But that would mean that people would have to grow up…
    which goes right along with my series of posts I’m doing right now about thinking.
    Andrew recently posted…Deliberate vs…: A Post About Thinking (Part Two)My Profile

    • winopants says:

      Growing up and feeling responsible does suck right? Isn’t the internet supposed to be a refuge from all that? All fine and good until people get hurt I suppose

  9. Mr. Douche may get Visine in his next meal and be subjected to shitting his brains out the next day.

  10. Kianwi says:

    People can be so terrible. The whole customer is always right philosphy really grinds on my nerves. In theory, it’s great, but in reality, people use it as an excuse to be complete, spoiled assholes.

    Another area where the reviewing thing irks me is in college classes. I went back to finish my degree as an adult, and one of the classes I had was Astronomy. It was a darn hard class, but our professor killed himself every class, coming in with a box of displays, using tons of video clips, etc. But most of the students were too lazy to come to class and read the book, so they bombed the exams. And then they had the nerve to complain and threaten to rate the professor poorly. He was an excellent professor, and yet he was going to be penalized because he had lazy students in a tough class. Still makes me so mad!
    Kianwi recently posted…Dog FoodMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      Crazy, I never thought about how that could play out in a classroom setting. Students can blackmail their teachers now, unbelievable. As I was finishing school I started checking out the “rate my professor” thing, though I suppose the schools themselves hand out ratings sheets too.

  11. Valerie says:

    Wow… I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. Free stuff makes people turn into jerks, I guess. This absolutely ludicrous.

    In other news, I’m totally gonna start threatening people for free stuff. I mean, I do own evil mannequin arms that will do my bidding. And I need a new car.


    Valerie recently posted…Can you say MANNEQUIN ARM GIVEAWAY?!?! I sure bet you can!!!My Profile

  12. I hated YELP when I was working in a restaurant. One guy left a horrible review based on the fact that he didn’t like our broccoli… It was asparagus.
    The mentality and (lack of) education some of those “reviewers” posses boggles my mind. I hope that this douche canoe gets what he deserves. Herpes.
    Jeneral Insanity recently posted…I should be making money off of this obsessionMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      I love it when people will say they hate things that don’t exist. Like this one guy criticized our mirror, but we don’t have one

  13. Gossip Grl says:

    Funny posting. Now I don’t need to buy this guys card for $100 because I got one that came free in the mail. It’s called AARP and came about a year ago and without request. Now, I’ve yet to get the best seat or service anywhere when I flash it, but I’ll just keep trying!

  14. Cheryl P. says:

    Douchy, indeed!! Your use of the word extortion is right on in terms of this card. What kind of person waives the ” do something for me or I’ll give you a bad review” card.

    Reviews and comments can be so great when they offer something constructive but those that are just written for the sake of being a jackass…total waste of everyone’s time.
    Cheryl P. recently posted…Days Gone Bye-ByeMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      I’ve stopped Yelping, but I used to write a review now and again. I’d always try to be extremely judicious and make sure I wasn’t personally attacking anyone

  15. Another problem with the whole reviewing systems too is that I feel like people are more motivated to leave negative feedback than positive. If some place had good service, which people expect, a lot of people aren’t motivated to leave feedback or even think about it. But I think a lot more people will be more likely to make the effort to leave negative feed back if they felt like the business wronged them somehow. Just another reason review sites need to be taken with a grain of salt.
    Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point recently posted…Down With the U.K. (again)!My Profile

    • winopants says:

      We try to provide motivation to our customers for being awesome. We send an ap or glass a port down on occasion to regular customers to say thanks. Problem is, only bad behavior is rewarded in corporate type restaurants. At one of my old jobs my managers would throw me their manager card if there was ever a problem and tell me to comp stuff.

  16. Stacie says:

    Some reviews are SO bad. It must be both frustrating and entertaining to be on the inside at Yelp!
    Stacie recently posted…The Red DeathMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      I find Yelp to be a great source of comedy. I go on now and again for a good laugh. Sometimes even the “elite” yelpers are just as funny as the idiots, they take themselves sooo seriously

  17. Ericamos says:

    I can’t believe the Reviewer Card exists! So dumb, and yes, so exploitive. You know his food gets messed with all the time! And right on about Yelp. I can’t trust that site anymore due to dumbasses like you showed. The ratings mean nothing to me. I’d rather just go myself, and determine whether or not I like the place.

    • winopants says:

      I wish more people thought that way! I have to admit I look at reviews when I’m going places. I try to take them with a grain of salt though, and I’m good at sniffing out the crazies

  18. You’ve got to be kidding me! Another person with the “you owe me” thought process. Can’t stand it. I do read reviews, but I don’t pay attention to the number of stars they give (each person translates them differently), and I’m just looking for tidbits that tell me one thing or another, not the overall. I wonder how many people take reviews fully at face value these days?

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse
    Shannon Lawrence recently posted…A-to-Z Sign-ups and Links!My Profile

    • winopants says:

      I think most people can discern what’s true and what’s not. Problem is, when those extraneous 1 star reviews affect the total score of the business. People do look at cumulative scores.

  19. Stacey says:

    I REALLY hope anytime that guy flashes his card, his wine is getting peed in and his food contains loogies
    Stacey recently posted…Theme Thursday: Blogging is a lifelineMy Profile

    • winopants says:

      If he asked for a glass of house wine, as deal seekers usually do, I’d go pour him the cooking wine out of the plastic pouches in the kitchen

  20. Oh my gosh, that is crazy!

  21. Hi, I wanna subscribe to your blog! But I can’t find a thingy to click to subscribe. Am I missing it somewhere? I’ll bookmark this page and check back.
    Punky Coletta recently posted…Spinach in my Couscous, No, Couscous in my Spinach!My Profile

    • winopants says:

      Ah, thanks for the heads up! Looks like when I was messing around with my sidebar a couple days ago I lost my subscription widget. Who knows how long it would have taken me to notice, thank you!!

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