Restaurants, hotels, attractions… A large number of French people refer to reviews published on the Internet before booking in these establishments. But some businesses suffer from bad comments that sometimes seem unjustified. How to tell the difference between honest opinions, and those which are intended to harm?

On February 14, 2022, YouGov, an opinion polling institute, carried out a study on the French and their relationship to customer reviews on the Internet. 69% of French people have already left a comment on the web. Among them, 78% are between 25 and 34 years old. However, not everyone does it repeatedly. Indeed, 69% do it occasionally. Only 31% apply to leave reviews on a regular basis. But are these comments usually positive?

The French are more likely to leave a review when the brand they purchased from asks for it. But 34% also do this when they are sent a sample to thank them for their previous comments. Nevertheless, “contrary to what one might think, the majority say they leave a positive review (66%) – rather than negative (19%)”, says Ninon Jambu of YouGov. These figures seem to encourage users to trust these opinions.

“Nearly half of French people (47%) agree that they trust customer reviews,” the study says. But this choice can also cause consumers to forgo a purchase. Indeed, three out of four French people have already given up the idea of ​​buying a product following a negative customer opinion. Among 18-24 year olds, this figure rises to 91%. Whether on the seller’s site, or a review site like TripAdvisor, user opinions are therefore very important in choosing a purchase. But these comments can sometimes be dishonest, and it is the merchants who suffer.

On June 15, 2023, Le Parisien publishes an article highlighting the problem of reviews on the Internet. One browser is particularly questioned: Google. Indeed, journalist Thomas Poupeau investigated a restaurant flooded with bad reviews published on the online service. For good reason, Emmanuel Macron visited this establishment during his trip to Pérols in the Hérault last April.

A few hours later, 69 negative comments were listed on Google. Previously approaching a 5-star rating, the restaurant has tumbled to 3.5. However, these opinions have nothing to do with the quality of service offered by the establishment. “To accept Macron is to accept the consequences: loss of attendance”, could we read on the restaurant’s Google page. Faced with this large number of bad comments, the browser sorted and deleted the less realistic ones. Nevertheless, some are still on the platform. But this story is far from unique.

A hotel manager located in Provence testifies to the Ile-de-France daily. “It’s the alpha and the omega, I watch them every day,” he says. Despite the presence of the establishment in several tourist guides, the professional knows that a large number of French people today consult the opinions on the Internet. But for some merchants, it didn’t stop at a few bad reviews.

Le Brasco, a fast food restaurant located in Cergy-Pontoise in Val-d’Oise, had suffered the consequences of a misinterpretation. Indeed, in 2021, a racist attack took place in front of the establishment. Some customers then believed that a member of the restaurant had gotten involved. This false information then spread in the comments. “I lost 50% of my turnover,” the boss told Le Parisien. However, his rating has risen since the tragedy. These bad reviews also cause merchants to respond to reviews to defend themselves, allowing the user to make a real review.