01:50 GMT +327 March 2019
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    A man posing as a food critic

    French Court Rules Online Food Critic Doesn't Cut the Mustard‏

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    A court in France has sided with a restaurant after an online food critic posted a fake review before the Michelin-starred eatery had opened to the public.

    In the age of the internet, restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, are all beholden to online reviews and the words tapped into keyboards about their businesses. Tourists and locals scour search engines reading ratings and reviews in earnest before making what they believe to be an informed choice as to where to eat, stay or drink.

    And one day a diner waked into a Michelin-starred restaurant in Dijon and felt the food didn't really cut the mustard — and decided to tell the world — before the restaurant had officially opened up for business to the public.

    The online reviewer criticized the Loiseau des Ducs in July 2013, saying it was "very overrated, all for show and with very little on the plate".

    "The most plentiful plate was the one carrying the bill."

    The anonymous reviewer — published the critique on France's Pages Jaunes website under the pseudonym 'The Clarifier' five days before the restaurant opened.

    And so the owners of the restaurant, the Bernard Loiseau group took the case to court. The group said it was not against real customers expressing positive or negative opinions — but the fake review — before the restaurant opened — was a point of principle.

    The court subsequently ruled that the review had not been based on a real experience and aimed to deter future customers, ordering the author to pay US$2755 in damages and US$5510 in costs.

    So while it often pays to read a review before booking a table — in this instance the restaurant review cost 'The Clarifier' US$8265 — on top of what the diner thought was an expensive meal.


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