Last Update: Jul 5th, 2022
Fake reviews

You Can't Trust OpenTable Reviews

Did you ever wonder why every restaurant, even ones that you know are terrible, all seem to have 4 to 5 stars on OpenTable? Places that are simply no good have multiple "Diner's Choice" awards? Doesn't it seem fishy that a place that every local knows has bad food and terrible service has so many "reviews" claiming that the place is a "foodie paradise" and "world class" service?

The reason is that OpenTable is structured in a way to allow restaurants to have substantial control over the message; and there's no way for potential diners to scrutinize the reviews.

The Fallacy of their Claim

OpenTable makes their money from the restaurants using their reservation systems, so they have a vested interest in creating an environment that is favorable to restaurants. Their system "helps" restaurants in 2 ways; First, all of the reviews are posted anonymously. While there might be a name like "Jim C from Denver", there's no way to verify it. There's no profile. No Avatar. You can't see other reviews from "Jim C". Even if there is a name, there's no way to contact other users. You can't ask anyone why they loved the restaurant. The second way that they "help" restaurants is by making the claim that only actual diners who make a reservation and who show up at the restaurant can post a review.

But think about it. A restaurant that wants to post a positive review for themselves can simply have a manager or employee create an email account and make a reservation and then mark it as fulfilled. This costs them $1 or something; then they can anonymously plant a review. Notice how many of the "reviewers" only have 1 revew? That's laziness. They're not even trying to look authentic.

They can post as many as they want, since they control the reservation system.

The reason that most of the reviews you see on OpenTable appear to be delusional reflections of how the restaurants see themselves is that it's highly likely that most of the reviews aren't real.

You can probably trust the negative reviews. But there's really no way of knowing if the positive reviews are real or planted shills by the restaurants themselves.

There's been way too many pea-brained comments from people who just don't seem to get it, so I'll lay out how it can work.

1) Employee, Owner, PR company etc makes a reservation at the restaurant.
2) Restaurant marks the reservation as fulfilled, even though it's not even a real reservation
3) The person can now post a review for their own restaurant using the bogus diner's opentable login.

Another issue with OpenTable reviews is that the restaurant knows who has reserved with OpenTable. Imagine if they know you were a big cheese on Yelp, or if they knew you were a Restaurant Critic? I can promise that you get better service when they know you might be writing about it. If you eat at the bar, or walk in without a reservation, you are excluded from OpenTable no matter how bad the experience. So Actual Diners are not allowed to post a review on OpenTable unless they reserve through the system.

Comment Policy Add Comment
I have an encountered a condition recently where I could not submit a poor (2 star) review on Open Table - the submit link was greyed out.
I suspect this is a simple way for Open Table to block out poor reviews.
So... I am no longer bothering to post any reviews on Open Table and of course I am ignoring any.
I am posting all of them, 5 star and 1 star and anything in between, on Trip Advisor.
I also use Trip Advisor and not Open Table to make all my dining decisions.
Shady operation.
M Thompson
OpenTable is not interested in what the consumer has to say as their industry is built upon the restaurants they serve. Best piece of advise is to ignore their reviews completely and to tell everyone you know to do the same. Good old fashion marketing strategy, you tell two people who will tell two people and so on - only this is the age of Social Media and that makes the playing field a whole lot easier.

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