For pubs and restaurants across Hull and East Yorkshire, TripAdvisor provides a great platform for customers to communicate with each other and share their opinions with the venues themselves.
In some cases, seeing a series of positive or negative reviews on the site can strongly influence a decision of where people go for a drink or meal out.
And while an overall rating is generally a good way of seeing how previous visitors have assessed their experiences at a certain venue, that does not mean all the reviews – particularly negative ones – are entirely fair and accurate.
And when that happens, venue bosses have the opportunity to bite back.
That is exactly what has happened for some of the small number of negative TripAdvisor reviews of The Camerton, in Main Street, Thorngumbald.
A highly rated venue, the food pub enjoys a very impressive TripAdvisor rating of 4.5 from 1,135 reviews, including 863 ranking them as “excellent”, and it also won the Hull Daily Mail Food Pub of the Year in 2019.
But that does not mean they are immune from receiving a small number of negative reviews on the site.
And when that happens the team are not afraid to stand up for their pub, especially when they feel the review does not represent a fair reflection of that customer’s visit.
That was certainly the case when one customer reviewed their visit two weeks ago by calling the menu “uninteresting” and the food “average at best”, adding that they were “struggling to see how this scored so highly on other reviews”.
Although they mentioned that the measures put in place for the pub to reopen safely under relaxed lockdown restrictions were “done well”, they complained that the “mixed grill had some very poor cuts on it and the chicken [was] burnt”.
They added: “It seems to be an independent but has the feel of a chain pubs menu, I may be wrong but for me this wasn’t a great trip out.”
The venue hit back: “Let me first address the ‘chain pub’ feel to the menu. We have printed a disposable menu that, visually, has that chain pub feel. We will be reprinting it shortly, as we also feel it doesn’t reflect our homecooked values. Everything, barring scampi, is freshly prepared onsite.”
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They explained that the smaller menu was a “condensed offering” to ensure social distancing could be maintained in the kitchen.
They later added: “As for your mixed grill, the ingredients are clearly printed on the menu, so it should have been no surprise which ‘cuts’ were on it.
“It is an amazingly popular dish, but the components are constantly under review. Thanks for the feedback. Can we also offer our apologies that the chicken was over cooked, this should have not happened and should also have been rectified on ‘checkback’ but we have no record of a complaint being made.
“I would ask, in future, if you could make staff aware of any issues, so we can rectify issues before you leave and give us a chance to turn a negative into a positive, then this could have been mentioned in your review, but you did not give us this opportunity.”
They then encouraged the reviewer to get in touch directly in order to provide more details of their visit to enact more positive changes in response.
They were a little less reserved when responding to another review from a customer claiming to have received only “six prawns” in their prawn salad, saying their potatoes had been fried not roasted and calling the seabass “very oily”.
The venue responded by saying: “The seabass is served with [with] caper and lemon butter – butter is greasy! Butter is oily!
“Roast potatoes are roasted and certainly not put in a fryer – however they are blanched in hot water before being seasoned and into the steam oven to roast.
“As for the prawn cocktail I have tried to attach a photo to show our prawn cocktail and it has lots of prawns on the top – unsure of six! Your table was also checked back on whilst eating and nothing of the above was mentioned. This would have been the perfect time to let us know.
“When looking at your other reviews nowhere local lives up to your standards – you seem to find something wrong [wherever] you go – we do hope you find the perfect spot for your next [dining] out experience.”
It was a similar story for another review which accused the pub’s staff of having “poor management and poor customer service skills”.
The venue responded: “All our chefs have been here for years and we have a great team, our front of house staff are all lovely and polite, and have great customer service skills, see all our fabulous reviews.
“We have lots and lots of customers who return week after week, month after month, year after year, and lots of new customers who enjoy their experience with us.
“Why have you never left us a review before if you have been on numerous occasions, why would you leave a review like this when the staff dealt with your query on the night?
“We noticed that on your other reviews you use Trip Advisor as a complaints forum, Trip Advisor is a great tool if used for giving accurate experiences.”
And they were equally bemused by another customer who decided to leave a review three months after their visit to the pub, which they claimed had gone “seriously downhill” with “seriously bad” food, including “slimy” fish and a piece of tin foil in their meal, causing “horror stories” among locals.
The pub came straight back with: “Thanks for taking the time to review us, we cannot understand why you visited in [July 2019], and then review us three months later in October – how do you remember your visit three months later?”
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They added: “I’ve checked our comments book and we have no record in August or September when you visited that we had a ‘slimy fish’ or tin foil in a meal – we do check backs on every meal to ensure everyone has a great experience – if you had any problems this is the best time to make your comments known to us and we can act on this.
“Your comments regarding horror stories from locals, maybe you should stick to your experience as we have lots of happy locals, and lots of happy regulars that we see week in week out – see all our fabulous reviews from our customers.
“It wasn’t long ago that The Camerton was nearly derelict and was ghost site, could you imagine a village with no local?
“Looking at your other reviews – there’s not anywhere local that hits the button for you, a couple of other local top outlets don’t come up to your standards either.
“If you want to give us a call and discuss please do not hesitate – all the staff and management are very approachable.”
The Camerton is open from 12pm until 10.30pm Monday to Wednesday, 12pm until 11pm Thursday to Saturday and 12pm until 9.30pm on Sunday. Find out more on their website by clicking here.