Thursday, November 17, 2005

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

You know one of things that I'm really going to miss when I get home is my daily dose of the Shanghai Daily. It's a treasure trove of interesting and unusual material. Here is my favorite example from today's paper. More eateries sue over bad reviews:

THREE more eateries are lining up to sue, a Website that publishes restaurant reviews by ordinary consumers, saying some of the comments from one reviewer went too far, and were insulting.

Last week, a court heard suits filed by two other restaurants against the Website.

The suits are all based on "venomous" reviews from one consumer, who goes by the online name "Old Dinner Bucket."

Wasn't he a guitarist for Guns N' Roses at one point?

Yang Wei, chairman of San Lin Tang, which filed a lawsuit with the Xuhui District People's Court yesterday, said that on June 23, 2003, Old Dinner Bucket published a pair of couplets on the Website saying the restaurant was "heartlessly murdering customers for their money" and expressing his hope it would soon go out of business.

That does have a little bite, doesn't it?

"The couplets are so venomous that they aren't only a comment about the dishes and restaurant environment, they are a personal insult," said Yang.

While has deleted the "insulting words," the restaurant's lawyer has kept a copy of the original page, and had it notarized.

San Lin Tang is seeking 50,000 yuan (US$6,173) in compensation and a public apology, the same demand Kongjia Garden and Hong Yun Lou made in suits heard last week.

They've set their sites on more than just too:

Wu Hualiang, the lawyer representing all three of the eateries, said he has asked the Shanghai Public Security Bureau to search for Old Dinner Bucket, so the reviewer can be added to the suits as a defendant.

Round up the usual suspects. You know, the guys writing withering social commentary in their underpants.

"A Netizen must live in the real world, no matter what name he or she uses," Wu said.

You mean there is living, breathing person behind the Nihilist In Golf Pants moniker? Be afraid, be very afraid.

Wu said China's Internet Information Service Management Regulation bans Websites from publishing and spreading insulting information, and says they can be held legally accountable for such statements.

Even if they're true?

He argues that zSurvey didn't check the comments on its site carefully and even referred to Old Dinner Bucket as a gourmet, so the company helped in defaming the restaurants.

Now I know where I heard that name before. I saw Old Dinner Bucket on Iron Chefs a while back.

By the way, all the meals I've had so far in China have been quite good. Top notch all the way. No complaints. No sir, you won't find any venomous reviews or personal insults here at Fraters Libertas. We'll leave that to the Old Dinner Buckets of the world. Especially when it may cost us fifty large RMB.

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