Singapore — A Japanese restaurant chain in Singapore is under fire for posting bad reviews using multiple accounts to sabotage its competitors. After the practice was highlighted on social media, the company has issued a public apology.
On Sept 9 (Ishiro, which sells Japanese fusion rice bowls, has apologised to Mentai-Ya, another Japanese restaurant, for “the harm these unfortunate events have caused.”
According to multiple Facebook posts by Mentai-Ya, it has been “intentionally harassed” for the last four months.
Ishiro noted in its statement that the reason for the delay in their apology was due to their investigations on the matter.
“Ishiro had no intentions to defame our competitors,” said Ishiro.
“The reviews were unfortunately posted by an employee on his or her own accord.”
Ishiro noted it was taking full responsibility for the actions of its employee and “will ensure that such actions will not be tolerated in the future.”
The business asked for a second chance to make amends after its initial apology also received backlash.
Ishiro’s initial statement focused on Mentai-Ya’s approach in publicising the incident.
The statement, which has since been taken down, questioned Mentai-Ya’s “ethics” of “digging out” their female employee’s photos and defaming her because she patronised Mentai-Ya and left a negative review.
The restaurant also admitted its staff had multiple accounts to post online reviews, including positive ones for Ishiro. “He is a young, immature employee who has now realised the severity of his thoughtless actions and has already resigned,” said Ishiro.
Netizens soon highlighted that their comments on the post were being deleted.
Soon after, the entire post was taken down, and Ishiro’s second apology was posted a day after.
The sabotage came in the form of bad reviews, low star ratings, negative comments and fake orders under multiple accounts named “wenbin chua, Deon Goh, Eunice or Eunice Neo”, and more.
On one occasion, a customer messaged Mentai-Ya on Facebook complaining about the food and service at its Sengkang outlet.
Even though Mentai-Ya’s CCTV footage refuted such claims, the restaurant still refunded the customer.
However, it later discovered that the customer’s phone number was the same as the number posted on an Ishiro job advertisement under the name “wenbin.”
When Mentai-Ya investigated the other reviews, it realised that “Deon Goh” was a cashier at Ishiro.
In an update on Saturday (Sept 11), Mentai-Ya highlighted several questions it would like Ishiro to address.
“Hi Ishiro, if you are sincere with the apology to Mentai-Ya and other businesses, we sincerely wish that you would answer our seven questions to you,” wrote Mentai-Ya.
It asked if Ishiro would take full responsibility for the damages and requested confirmation of the other parties involved.
Other businesses that have spoken out on the issue include The Social Outcast, which received a large order under the name “wenbin.”
The Muslim-owned business specialising in woodfire smoked meals shared that the Grab uncle returned with all the food, and the customer couldn’t be reached.
“Besides the point of food wastage, all we can think of was that poor old Grab uncle, trying to earn an honest living yet got involved in such a prank,” wrote The Social Outcast.
On another occasion, a “wen kai” recently reviewed the business and said the “patty was overcooked and not juicy. Overpriced. Ashes Burnnit better.”
It was then revealed that The Social Outcast had been closed since May 30 for its relocation to a new space in The Grandstand at Bukit Timah; hence the review became invalid.
The same “wen kai” reviewer had also given Mentai-Ya’s Tampines outlet a one-star rating.
According to Mentai-Ya, the other businesses that have been affected by the sabotage include Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap 金记潮州卤鸭, The Burning Oak, Mad Charcoal and JINHO. /TISG
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