Richard Knapp added a sign in front of his bar, Mother’s Ruin when summer began. His bar is located in a SoHo area in Manhattan. The sign had two arrows, the first pointed inside for vaccinated customers and the other pointed outside for people who are not vaccinated.
This Instagram picture went viral very fast among anti-vaxxers who are on Reddit. Knapp shared that he has received a lot of hate mail via Google. He would receive around 12-13 emails every day. He would be called a communist and a Nazi in those emails. Many people wrote that they wanted his bar to burn to the ground. A shame and name campaign had begun for his bar. This agenda did not stop with emails, his bar started getting a lot of one-star reviews on Google and Yelp, even from accounts that were based in Europe.
Spamming negative ratings on review portals is not something new. All through the pandemic, this trick has been used to attack restaurants and bars that have made wearing masks compulsory for safety. Now that restrictions have been removed, bars like Mother’s Ruin are making sure customers remain safe by asking for vaccination proof through New York’s state app called Excelsior Pass, or showing vaccine cards or vaccine passports. This practice has led to a new surge of spam ratings.
These reviews that rate one stars in spam can really hurt businesses. Reviews are usually viewed in a default mode from new to old in chronological order which means a spam rating of a place would be at the top with fake reviews making the latest reviews more influential.
Many firms are finding a method to verify reviewers by checking if they are actual clients by contacting them through email and matching them with their files but Google and yelp do not have any restrictions and they let anyone review and rate a business.
Marshall Smith may be the first person to make it compulsory for patrons to show they were vaccinated to enter his Bar Max in Denver. He thought this would be nothing huge to ask clients to prove they were vaccinated before entering. He said he never thought of the politics involved and that was naive.
In a few days, he received so many one-star ratings on Google that his average rating became 4 from 4.6 out of 5.
Smith said they used to be amongst the top 10 craft bars for cocktails in all of Denver before the pandemic. He says, people who are not in the industry, do not realize how important it is to be on the first page when it comes to results. He is no longer in the top 10 list nor in listicle mentions. They used to not spend on advertising because people used to see their reviews. They had worked hard for six years to get great reviews which have been lost now in a matter of 2 months.