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No good advice: Surbiton cafe owners' anger over Trip Advisor 'fake reviews' claims

Happy customers who heap praise on your cafe are usually good for business.

But for a popular cafe in Surbiton it seems the feedback has been a little too good. Pickled Pantry, in Central Parade off St Mark’s Hill, has been accused by customer review website Trip Advisor of forging its own reviews – and has been relegated down the rankings of best eateries in Surbiton as a result. Having once occupied second place in Trip Advisor’s list of 69 restaurants and cafes in the town, the business, opened in June 2012, has now plummeted to 55th place. Baffled owners George Setchell and Joanna Venn have vehemently denied the claims, and have demanded an explanation from the company.

Trip Advisor emailed Pickled Pantry on October 31, saying "individuals affiliated with your organization [sic]" had been posting positive reviews on the website, breaching house rules. Mr Setchell said it was possible that customers had written the reviews using the cafe's free wi-fi, leading Trip Advisor to think they were being forged.

Since opening in June 2012, Pickled Pantry has proved a big hit in Surbiton, with loyal customers including Kingston Council leader Liz Green and Kingston-based Celtic punk band The Lagan.

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