Oh dear. A branch of well-known Japanese restaurant chain Benihana recently opened in Kuwait. Blogger Mark of 248am.com visited and afterwards he published what he describes as his ‘Benihana Experience’. He’s positive towards the staff and service but was disappointed with the food, and says he won’t be going back.
It wasn’t long before the astroturfing started in the comments – Mark confirms in the radio piece below that a number of the comments praising Benihana originated from the same IP address.
Shortly afterwards someone called Mike Servo leaves a comment identifying himself as the General Manager of Benihana. Servo leaves what could only be described as a rambling comment including non-sequiturs such as “Subway is an elephant” and “BTW, are you Lebanese?” He closes by noting that he and Mark will “meet in court soon”.
Here are some selected tweets. The hashtag being used is #benihanaKUW. At one stage on 31 January it was trending at #3 in the UAE.
Here’s a radio piece from Dubai Eye on what they describe as the Benihana ‘fiasco’.
In summary, this is a great illustration of
- failure to understand the Streisand effect
- how to get customer service utterly wrong
- how to respond to negative commentary entirely incorrectly
- inept astroturfing in the comments on the original review (as confirmed by Mark in the radio piece)