A Halifax businessman is at loggerheads with TripAdvisor after his restaurant rating slumped from from top spot to 122nd out of 136.
TripAdvisor removed 280 reviews after its fraud detection systems indicated suspicious activity.
But, Ziggy Hussain who runs Ziggy’s Spice House, said the huge growth in popularity is down to him investing in the business and grateful diners happy to post positive reviews.
He wants the reviews independently investigated and says he is prepared to take court action to protect the reputation of himself and his business.
Ziggy’s rating later rose to number five with 200 reviews and 163 ranked excellent but Mr Hussain is still not happy.
“That’s not good enough,” he said.
“I want to know what I have supposedly done wrong. I want my reviews back.”
Mr Hussain has a 30-year business background in Halifax and previously ran taxis.
He said consequently he is very well known and has encouraged people to post a review (which is acceptable under TripAdvisor guidelines) after dining at his revamped restaurant.
Mr Hussain asked KwikChex, which runs an online reputation service, to intervene and it asked for an independent IT expert to examine the evidence but that offer has not been taken up.
“Given that Ziggy Hussain is prepared to be openly judged with regard to the conduct of his business, TripAdvisor should themselves allow scrutiny,” said Chris Emmins, co-founder of Kwik-Chex.
TripAdvisor spokesman James Kay said nothing was more important than the authenticity of reviews.
“We have an international team of specialists who constantly monitor the content on the site, making sure our reviews are real and meet our guidelines,” he said.
“TripAdvisor can identify patterns of suspicious activity by utilizing sophisticated filters and behavioural modelling to scan reviews.
“By example, we monitor and evaluate hundreds of different attributes associated with electronic correspondence, such as IP address, the type of browser being used and even screen resolution of the reviewer’s device.”
Mr Kay said the team found a large number of suspicious votes and reviews relating to Ziggy’s and those had been removed.
“The removal of these reviews was based upon patterns of suspicious activity unearthed by a number of different filters on our systems that were then verified through further investigation,” he said.
“As such, we are confident that the cause for review removal is justified.
“In line with our standard protocol, and following continued dialogue with the owner about compliance with our guidelines and policies, as well as removing the reviews in question from the site, we also reduced the restaurant’s ranking in the Popularity Index for a period of time.
“We continue to welcome the opportunity to assist the business with the issue to avoid being penalized in the future, where appropriate.”
Ironically, TripAdvisor still show Ziggy’s as having been awarded its “Certificate of Excellence” in 2013.