Kuwaiti Blogger Sued After Negative Benihana Review

from the well-that'll-help dept

Slashdot points us to the news that the folks who manage a Benihana chain restaurant in Kuwait are apparently unfamiliar with the Streisand Effect. A Kuwaiti blogger, for the site 248am, wrote up a negative review of a newly opened Benihana restaurant, including a couple of videos he shot in the restaurant. The review seems perfectly fair. He liked some of the food, but found some of it to be really bad, such that he had no intention of going back. A day after the review appeared, a guy named Mike Servo, claiming to represent Benihana management in Kuwait wrote a comment on the blog complaining about the review and promising to sue. Here's just a snippet:
I also found it out that our rights and name is being used in a wrong way and broadcasting the video without a proper consent from us is really annoying specially Benihana is just opened up its doors to the public.

We are seeking and consulting our legal dept. on how we can form a type of law suit against your website to be brought up to the Kuwait authorities.

We respect opinion, but we see it in a way that Benihana name have been destroyed and abused on your website.

We are eager to know your name and meet you personally if you donít have anything to hide.
Servo then interacts with several of the commenters who suggest (perhaps accurately) that he's being ridiculous. Rather than take that to heart, Servo apparently decided to push forward with the lawsuit, in which they set forth a conspiracy theory that the blogger was purposely trashing Benihana in connection with his job at an advertising agency. Either way, the blogger is fighting the lawsuit, saying that he doesn't believe the original post was libel at all. Hopefully the courts agree. An English translation of the original complaint is embedded below.

In the meantime, however, Benihana itself (beyond just the local franchise) has been getting a ton of attention over this issue. Not only has this decision to sue created a lot more attention for the negative review, but it's impacting the wider Benihana chain. I would argue that the negative publicity over a bogus lawsuit is likely to have a much larger impact than a single review involving a guy who got some bad chicken. Accidents like that happen. Suing a critic over a negative review is not an accident, but a specific decision, and the company is now paying the price for making such a decision that only serves to raise more questions about why anyone would support such a restaurant.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Miff (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:49am

    Mike Servo?

    Is that his real name or did he just choose an "American-sounding" name based on watching MST3K? ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 5:56am

    The Spiral

    There is one of the Benihanas around the greater Detroit area somewhere here. Aside from the fact that I have heard from everyone that they are crazy expensive (not because the food is to die for but for the experience & atmosphere), I have also heard that the food sucks. There is a guy at work here who goes to restaurants (way more than people should) and he has commented several times how they have been on the decline over the last few years. This is a guy who will not give up on a restaurant after one bad meal either. It takes some serious failures to get him to say he will never go back, but Benihana is on his blacklist. With all the bad reviews I have heard about the one around here, along with prices that I do not find worth just a nice eating atmosphere, I plan on never even trying it out. There are plenty of great places to eat around here so eating there is just not something I feel any need to do.

    Maybe if they spent the money that they spend on their lawyers instead on improving food quality they wouldn't need to worry about bad reviews, and then wouldn't need to worry about lawyers to sue over bad reviews (which is a bad idea anyways). It would be a great upward cycle for them but it looks like the spiral they are on downward and not upward.

     

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  3.  
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    DearMrMiller (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 6:14am

    Hmmm...

    Looks like Benihana is going to need a lot more teriyaki sauce to mask the bad taste in everyone's mouth..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:09am

    "Dear Customer - we were surprised and very concerned to learn of your negative experience at our restaurant. Benihana is committed to providing top-quality service and food to all our customers, but obviously we didn't quite live up to that commitment this time! We're not sure what happened, or why your experience was so bad, but we want to apologize and make it up to you. We're sending you a gift certificate for a free dinner - bring a friend and come give Benihana another chance! We don't think you'll be disappointed twice."

    Would that have been so hard?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Re: The Spiral

    "With all the bad reviews I have heard about the one around here, along with prices that I do not find worth just a nice eating atmosphere, I plan on never even trying it out."

    Rule #24 in Dark Helmet's Guide to Proper Eating: If the experience enters anywhere into the equation in your dining choices, NEVER go to a restaurant that is part of a same-name chain or franchise. Never.

    That is all....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:16am

    Re: The Spiral

    I will not be dining at a Benihana for the reasons above and not will advise others not to go. If I want the experience of being at a loud place with knives being tossed and fire I will order carry out and watch my friend and if girlfriend fight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Atkray (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:18am

    Re:

    You understand customer relationships.....they don't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Overcast (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Companies that sue customers over opinions = Worst Review you can Get.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    This lawsuit will soon be reaching speeds of three!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Shadowed, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 9:28am

    I work at a hotel

    A Sea Dog Brewery opened up down the street from us, and my Ops manager and I went to check it out to better inform our guests about the area. Our opinion was that the place opened before a plan was in place. Menu wasn't complete, staff was not properly trained, the setup didn't build to any type of atmosphere.

    One afternoon we told a guest these exact words. As he had been a customer of other Sea Dog locations, he still went for it. Within 10 minutes of the guest leaving, the restaurant's head chef showed up at the hotel asking for me. I had been ratted out. He apologized for my previous experience, asked for our help and opinions to improve and kindly invited us back.

    Though embarrassed, I was happy he did this. It showed the kind of customer service commitment that we like OUR guests to have and the respect customers like ME deserve.

    We have been back to the Sea Dog, and the experience a much better one. That wouldn't be the case had the chef shown up at the hotel yelling at me accusing me of defamation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:58am

    I went to benihana restaurant in the Avenues Mall in Kuwait

    The service was horrible. They had open seats at the bar but would not let us eat there without making a reservation to eat a hour from the time we went there. The place is too dark, barely could read the menu we got to check the prices.

    We finally just went upstairs to the fast food court and saved 10 dinar. ($35US)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: The Spiral

    I tend to see the food as part of the experience. Even if it is just a local italian restaurant that has the lights dimmed and pictures of Venice on the walls I would consider that all in the experience. For me to return to a place to eat more than once the experience has to be good.

    If you were indicating that you would be going to eat at a place that has bad food but good environment, then yes, I would agree that one should not eat there. After all, the primary reason you are going is for the food. That would however be slightly different for a place like Dave & Busters, which is a gaming environment. Arcade type place where they have all types of games you can play (my favorite isn't even an arcade game but the air hockey!). They happen to serve food there (and alcohol) but you really go for the games. =)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Havoc (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 1:13am

    Re: Re: The Spiral

    "not be dining at a Benihana for the reasons above and not will advise others not to go"
    Thanks, my head hurts now. What does all that even mean?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    Mike Servo is an idiot!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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