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ReviewerCard Takes Extorting Restaurants to a New Level

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Because it just wasn't easy enough for online reviewers to shake down local businesses, a "lifelong entrepreneur" has come up with a way to do so even more aggressively. Behold the ReviewerCard, an identification card that purports to secure its holders better service by warning business owners, "I write reviews." Founder Brad Newman tells the LA Times that he got the idea for the card on a trip to France when a waiter was rude to him, explaining, "If that French waiter had known at the beginning that I write a lot of reviews, he'd have treated me like Brad Pitt."

Newman defends the cards explaining that it benefits businesses to know when a review is coming. He also says a flash of the card got him a 50 percent discount at a hotel in exchange for the promise of a five-star review — which maybe could also be construed as a threat? But lawyers tell the LA Times that the cards are totally legal as long as they are not "explicit threats."

But, hey, at least not just anybody can get a ReviewerCard. Newman claims he screens applicants to limit cardholders to prolific reviewers and those who are willing to shell out $100 for the card. So far, he's sold about 100 and handed out another 400 "to travelers, bloggers, marketers and journalists who he thinks merit ReviewerCard status."

Here now is a video explaining the ReviewerCard process, which is almost a parody of itself in the style of Real Actors Reading Yelp. So, the idea goes, you can go from having to post reviews about the "worst dining experience of my life" to reviews that say, "The host came over and comped my entire meal and dessert because he knew the power I had. Five stars. I love this place."

Video: Reviewer Card

· ReviewerCard [Vimeo]
· Seeking Preferential Treatment With the Flash of a Card Is Wrong [LAT]
· All Yelp Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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