Have you ever visited a restaurant or store that was really terrible, but had lots and lots of four- and five-star Yelp reviews? Maybe they’re engaging in practices similar to a restaurant that Jennifer reviewed. They offered her a refund to change her poor review to four or five stars. She and her fiancé brought a large family group to a steakhouse for a pre-wedding “meet the family” dinner. Was it the second tip that the waiter added to their bill for himself, the extra $400 in seafood dinners added to their tab, or the the attempted sleight-of-hand with bottled water? She wrote about all of it, and the restaurant didn’t like it. The refund, however, was only to come after she revised the original review and pretended the bad experience never happened.
Bribespot is a new website and Android app that wants to fight corruption by being the Foursquare of bribe reporting. When someone tries to shake you down, you’re supposed to “check in” and report the payola request. Bribespot maps the data and shows where hot zones of graft are popping up. If a place gets enough hits, the people in charge there could have an impetus to take action. It remains to be seen whether the free service gets enough traction to be useful, but it’s a cool idea for how social media and mobile technology can empower regular people to work together to fix government.
In what newscasters describe as a “classic Chicago shakedown” during the making of the movie Source Code last year, a Chicago transit employee who negotiated a $19,000 contract for use of the train system reportedly demanded filmmakers deliver $2,000 in an envelope to him or another employee as a tribute to his effort. When he learned the money wouldn’t be delivered, he told a whistle-blower she’d never be able to work with Chicago’s Metra again.
Think fast: if a utility offered you $5,000 not to complain about the noise from their wind turbines, would you accept? What if the noise was so loud that it caused headaches and nausea? It’s a choice Caithness Energy is asking some Oregon residents to make as the utility tries to build one of the largest wind farms in the country.
After buying an anti-snoring mouthpiece from a third-party seller on Amazon, reader Bob received an email from the company offering him a free mouthpiece in exchange for a five-star review. He noted this attempted bribe in his Amazon review, and Amazon deleted it. Twice.
Here’s a new tactic we haven’t seen before: mortgage originator AmTrust called blogger BeThisWay and offered her $50 to voluntarily close her home equity line of credit (HELOC), possibly in response to the recent class action lawsuit against them for illegally closing HELOCs. She writes, “Well, I’d like to keep my HELOC. But I have to figure out AmTrust’s next move. What will they do if not enough people voluntarily surrender their HELOCs? Are cancellations next? Am I better off taking the $50 now, or waiting, hoping they don’t cancel it?”
Texas wedding caterer Dale Cane found a dead rat’s head in one of the twenty cans of Allen’s Italian Green Beans he bought at Walmart. Allen’s quickly offered Cane $200 if he agreed to keep quiet, and assured him that “the Pasteurization process renders the product sterile and completely safe for consumption.” Even worse, this isn’t the first time a dead rat’s head popped up in a can of Allen’s Green Beans…
TheCellShop.net told Network World that its email trying to bribe customers to submit perfect reviews was “improperly worded” and they “are now offering $5.00 for anybody who leaves a review whether it be good or bad.” [Network World]
“MyGearStore,” a seller on Amazon, tried to bribe reader Michael into remove less-than-stellar feedback. Michael writes, “There were some problems with the order, and I gave them neutral feedback (which was pretty generous).” They said they would give him a partial refund if he took down his feedback. He complained to Amazon, who didn’t reply except with a “thanks for emailing us” and to MyGearStore, who didn’t respond. One tool consumers use to evaluate the slew of online retailers out there is by looking through feedback left by other customers. If stores are trying to pay off customers to get rid of negative feedback, one, they’re stupid because they’re going to get caught. Two, it means you should be suspicious if the feedback for one store, product, or seller is overwhelmingly positive. Critical reading, it’s a good ability to have. The original bribe note sent by MyGearStore, inside..
Dan sent us this pic he snapped in a local Kmart and writes, “I remember a previous post on a Wal-Mart card that offered a 2-liter bottle, but I guess inflation caught up with big K as they are only offering 20-oz.”
Reader Josh writes us with concerns that a Chicago McDonald’s Franchisee committed a crime by offering free hotcakes to “early voters” in Chicago. He writes:In Chicago, some McDonald’s restaurants are offering free hotcakes to people who early-vote in the local runoff elections!