Representational image | Picture credit: Creative Commons

Late last month, restaurant aggregator and food-ordering app Zomato announced it was cracking down on restaurants that were using paid reviews to boost their ratings. It announced the Zomato Review Bounty programme as part of this move.

Put simply, Zomato is looking to enlist the help of bloggers and reviewers to weed out paid reviews. And it is prepared to pay handsomely for any information that leads to action against a restaurant: about as much as Rs 50,000 per week!

To that end, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal said in a blog post: “I’d strongly urge you to join us in our ongoing fight against paid reviews and help us maintain the neutrality of our platform towards both – our users as well as our restaurant partners.”

Zomato Project Clampdown

Zomato started its Project Clampdown this month to “aggressively warning users of suspicious reviews and ratings for such restaurants on the Zomato platform.”

It is a two-step procedure. Zomato described the first of them thus: “We will be sending a warning to restaurants where we detect suspicious activity — restaurants will have to respond quickly to make sure that all solicited reviews are proactively detected and removed from the Zomato platform and their listing page.”

The second step is described thus: “Post such warnings, if any malicious behaviour continues, we will display this warning banner on the restaurant’s page on Zomato. This banner will remain on the page for a period of three months.”

And Zomato wants to continue this crackdown with the help of reviewers and bloggers.

Picture credit: Screenshot

So, what is the Zomato Review Bounty programme?

Zomato is now urging its users to report instances of suspected paid reviews if they come across them.

Goyal, in his blog post, said: “If you come across any restaurant that promises monetary/material gains in exchange for biased reviews on Zomato, we urge you to share the information with us at [email protected] along with concrete evidence (quotations, email exchanges, WhatsApp group screenshots, Facebook Groups posts and more).”

For those who manage to successfully point out to Zomato some erring restaurants and reviews, the rewards can range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000! However, there’s a small catch.

Representational image | Picture credit: Creative Commons

The rules

According to Zomato, each user who does one of the following things will get Zomato Credits worth Rs 10,000:

  • You are the first one to flag the restaurant to Zomato.
  • The evidence you share is information that Zomato can verify independently.
  • The evidence is recent or “at least within the last month.”

What’s more, Zomato will also give Rs 50,000 Zomato Credits every week to the user, blogger or reviewer who flags the highest number of restaurants for soliciting or hosting paid reviews.

As mentioned, the money that will be given out is in the form of Zomato Credits. This means there is no actual cash changing hands: Zomato users can instead use this money to order more food.

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