These claims were rejected by a menupages.ie member of staff saying that the negative reviews were taken down temporarily until the dissatisfied customers were offered a free meal at the restaurant in order to see if their minds could be changed.
This reasoning was rejected by one particular poster, who following a query to menupages.ie was told that the bad report was taken down – suspected to have been at the request of the restaurant, while the free meal was subsequently only offered following the complaint rather than being normal procedures as maintained by the menupages.ie staff member.
Indeed, no other posters who had negative posts taken down came forward to confirm that they had been offered a free meal pending reinstatement of their post, and since more issues were raised, there has been no further sign of the menupages.ie staff member.
While registration on menupages.ie is free to all restaurants, it appears that the reviews removed in these cases were reviews of “premium” or special restaurants who pay a subscription or advertising for a special position on the menupages.ie site.
This certainly puts into question the integrity of a consumer review based website that accepts advertising and then controls content on the basis of the wishes of those advertisers – even if only temporarily as claimed.
This was a major difficulty faced by ValueIreland.com in the early days when we provided a forum for users to provide positive and negative feedback on Irish business providers. While we would have loved a consistent stream of income, we believed that we could not hold our truly independent position if we were receiving any money from anyone.