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NRAI supports Zomato’s take on the Mocambo incident


For the past few days, the internet has been awash with outrage over the incident at the legendary Mocambo restaurant in Kolkata. For those not in the know, a guest was told that Manish, her chauffeur, couldn’t be seated along with her at the restaurant. The restaurant’s reasons for this supposedly swayed from Manish being ‘inappropriately dressed’, to them alleging he was drunk, and then saying a ‘roadsider’ like him could not be seen dining amongst the city’s ‘elite’.

The incident has gone massively viral on social media, and everyone is up in arms against the restaurant. Since then, there has been a flood of reviews for the restaurant on Zomato – as many as 5000 in a day – and their rating has dropped from a very respectable 4.3 to a disastrous 1.8.

Now, many (if not most) of these reviews have been written by users who admit they haven’t been to the restaurant, and probably never will. Our policies and algorithms are tuned in a way that detects and deletes these reviews automatically.

But there’s a catch – whenever there is an outpouring of negative reviews for a particular restaurant, our anti-spam systems take a pause, and flags the issue to our moderators as a potential “social issue”. And a social issue this is.

In these exceptional cases, we have to deeply analyse the situation at hand, and then take a call on whether or not we should delete these reviews by marking them as junk/spam, and for not reflecting a real, first-hand experience with the restaurant. In this case, it was a very hard call for us.

Here’s why – while we agree that Zomato is a technology platform that shouldn’t take sides, and should stick to the rule book that we have created for ourselves, in such social cases, we have to look deep within us and ask ourselves the question – “what is the right thing to do?”.

So what, according to us, is the right thing to do?

We think every hospitality business should have basic ethical guidelines and principles. If the customer’s side of the story is true, it is deeply upsetting for us. We agree that the management reserves the right to refuse admission to someone, but there’s a polite way to turn a customer down, and then there’s an absolutely unacceptable way to turn someone away.

This incident, if indeed it happened verbatim, highlights the elitism of some hospitality businesses in India. Of all the countries that we operate in, India is the only one in which we hear of such incidents on an ongoing basis. It’s taken us centuries to supposedly move away from the class system, but traces of that still remain within our society. Such incidents is when things blow up and the chinks in the armour of our modern society become visible.

However, theoretically, the event may not have panned out exactly the way we were told it did, and the details posted by the customer in the original Facebook post could have been exaggerated. The customer could have just had a long and tiring day, and the fact that the restaurant exercised its right to admission – politely at first, and then assertively – led to her venting her sentiments on social media. And that, in turn, sparked a massive backlash against the restaurant.

We all know the social media mob attacks really well. And that’s what is happening here. There’s a mob attacking and voicing their opinion on an issue based on one side of the story.

Our goal is to enable people to make informed decisions on whether or not to dine at a place, based on the real and personal experiences of people who’ve been there. Therefore, an individual’s opinion/review of a restaurant should be reflective of their own experience there. We don’t want Zomato to be used as a tool for mob attacks – there are enough platforms being used for that already.

So again, what is the right thing to do?

The customer is entitled to her opinion, and has left a review on Zomato – that review will count, and stay on Zomato forever, for potential customers to read and decide whether they want to visit the restaurant or not. The business owner also has the means to reply to that review to present their side of the story. At the end of the day, any potential customer can decide whether to dine at that place or not.

Every other review, as a result of the mob behaviour that some of us show without understanding the real issue at hand, will be deleted very soon, and we will re-enable our automated anti-spam on this restaurant’s page again.

That, according to us, is the right thing to do – and this is what our anti-spam policies were originally designed for.


Note: Mocambo is not an advertiser on Zomato. However, our review policy is – and will always be – completely neutral. We do not treat advertisers differently from non-advertisers in any way when it comes to reviews and ratings. This has been, and shall forever be, our guiding principle as we continue building Zomato into the future.

Source : Zomato

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