Does Having An ID Card Saying You’re An Online Reviewer Make You A Savvy Consumer Or A Jerk?

The ReviewerCard will set you back $100, though you could probably make one at home for less.

The ReviewerCard will set you back $100, though you could probably make one at home for less.

With the growing popularity of — and the culture’s growing reliance on — online review sites like Yelp, a small subset of reviewers have tried to dangle the sword of a negative review over the heads of business-owners in order to not just get good service, but get preferential treatment.

And so a man in California has created an ID card for people who write a lot of online reviews so they can walk into a hotel, restaurant, hair salon, etc., and be treated appropriately.

“I’m going to review them anyway,” the creator of the ReviewerCard explains to the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus, “so why not let them know in advance? It’s not hurting anyone.”

As Lazarus points out, there might actually be a few people who end up with the short end of the stick if the cardholder gets special treatment.

The business-owner may feel threatened by even the possibility of a negative review if they don’t provide extra-special treatment. Other customers, who should be just as important as any online reviewer, could be receiving worse service because attention is focused on the cardholder. And the reputation of the review site is damaged, as the business will view it as a place for bullies and consumers will learn they can’t trust the reviews.

The creator of the card contends that the idea isn’t to threaten businesses into giving out freebies: “It’s a way to get the service you deserve.”

However, his own examples in the L.A. Times story cast some doubt on that notion.

For instance, he tells Lazarus about walking into a Geneva hotel, showing his card to the desk clerk and asking for 50% off the room price in exchange for a positive TripAdvisor review. He claims he was successful.

And then there’s the time he says he was able to skip the line at some Chicago restaurant by showing his card.

Meanwhile, he says that when he writes his reviews he does not disclose that he used his status as an online reviewer to ensure better service.

So what do you think of people who identify themselves as online reviewers when dealing with businesses: