March 2, 2017 5:24 pm

Restaurant owner calls negative reviews ‘blackmail’ after video shows customer put hair into dish

WATCH: Video appears to show restaurant patron plucking hair from head, swirling it into dish

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The proprietors of a restaurant in Australia are claiming TripAdvisor ignored their requests to take down negative reviews of their eatery, which they say was a customer’s attempt at “blackmail.” But after Global News contacted TripAdvisor for comment regarding the story, the travel company removed three negative reviews, which they said did not meet their guidelines.

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Biagio Biuso, the chef and owner of Casa Nostra Ristorante, posted security footage from inside the restaurant that appears to show a customer pulling out her own hair and putting it into her pasta dish over the weekend.

He wrote on social media, “We could see 101% it was the customer’s hair and that is the reason why we did not remove this dish from the bill. Because we did not remove the dish from the bill, they told us explicitly that they would post bad reviews on TripAdvisor, which they did.”

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The negative reviews were published online despite the owners’ attempt to alert the travel website of the situation.

“TripAdvisor has a ‘no blackmail’ policy for reviews and if you inform them in advance, they say they will not post them,” wrote Biuso. “We emailed them on the night this happened, saying the customers threatened us with these bad reviews, and we gave them easily identifiable information. […] The reviews are posted on TripAdvisor for all the world to see.”

One of the disputed TripAdvisor reviews, which were later removed by the website after Global News contacted the site.

Part of one the online reviews, written by user traveler365days read:

“When we received our food my partner’s meal had a long hair in it, and when we showed this to the waiter, he got upset at my partner, accusing him that it was his hair.”

In response, Biuso’s wife Sarah wrote:

“We have not responded to any genuine reviews, good or bad, as we accept everyone has an opinion. However when we are sure 100% that it is fake or we are being threatened by a customer, we expect TripAdvisor to support us and not encourage fake reviews.”

TripAdvisor noted that it appeared that one reviewer created two separate accounts to leave two negative reviews.

A TripAdvisor spokesman said in a statement:

“Restaurant owners are encouraged to submit blackmail reports to TripAdvisor as soon as these events occur, before the review is submitted by the customer, so we can flag future review submissions matching the owner’s description of events. The disputed reviews [in this case] were submitted roughly 1.5 hours before the owner submitted a blackmail report. […] In this instance, because of the circumstances related to the chronology of events, we have removed the disputed reviews in question.”

The Biusos said they are considering pursuing defamation charges against the customers who wrote the negative reviews.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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