Okay, first of all
almost no-one looks for reviews before they go to a shop or restaurant. For products: quite likely. For shops IN THE LOCAL AREA: no.
Chances are they have already shopped there before anyway..
A company's "internet reputation" is hardly worth worrying about.
I guess the majority ARE idiots, judging by Amazon etc.
"I love this book, it was so great, you should go buy it. i'm only on page 4 but i can tell it's going to be sooo awesome!!11" or "This treadmill really works, I lost 2lbs in 2 days/a year."
There's a difference between a review which says "I liked it , the food was good" or "this restaurant is terrible , I don't know how it even stays in business" compared to ACTUAL REVIEWS which say stuff like "I liked it, there was a wide range of foods to choose from, the restaurant was airy, had a good view overlooking the river, the staff were friendly and the menu points out meals suitable for vegans and celiacs"
I don't see the problem. If they lie, they can (should) not only be able to get the review removed from the site, but the person could be in trouble legally.
"The waiter spat in my soup and tripped me on the way to the bathroom"
What could possibly make a restaurant look so bad? (that wouldn't be disregarded as someone who is picky/has different taste/is a troll)
Also, people don't generally read the first few reviews and think everything is kosher. People specifically look for bad reviews, and read them to see what the problem was with the place they plan to visit/item they plan to buy. Unless the bad reviews are literally hidden somewhere, all people need to do is click a few times or scroll down a bit.
I guess this will be the end of Yelp. But surely it's common knowledge that places will be submitting fake reviews for their own company, and possibly their competitors? Although less common knowledge that review sites will be blackmailing people.....
Obviously someone should have recorded themselves being propositioned, as this whole story is nothing without proof of anything.