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Napa winery sues Google after ‘fake’ review calls it a ‘toilet’

Charter Oak Winery and Studio in California is suing Google after receiving a number of what it claims are “fake reviews” which refer to the business as a “toilet” and call staff members “conniving, manipulative and pompous”.

Image: Charter Oak Winery (Facebook)

As reported by CBS, Layla Fanucci, owner of Charter Oak Winery and Art Studio in St Helena, is taking Google to court after receiving a number of negative reviews on Google Maps.

Of the 27 reviews posted on Google, the vast majority are ‘five stars’, however there are a small number of ‘one star’ reviews, which Fanucci believes are being left by one person using different names.

One negative reviewer calls the winery a “toilet” while another refers to the staff and owner as “manipulative, calculating and pompous”.

Responding to these comments, Fanucci wrote: “This person that posted this untruthful post has never entered our studio/winery”.

Speaking to CBS, she said: “As an owner I think that Google should listen to me, and they won’t.

Commenting on the personal nature of the reviews, she added: “If he said, ‘I don’t like the art,’ fair game. If he said, ‘I don’t like the wine,’ fair game. But he never speaks about the art or the wine”.

Fanucci is arguing that the posts violate Google’s policy which bans fake reviews which are designed to lower a business’ overall rating.

In the positive reviews, Fanucci is referred to as “a very hospitable hostess” while there is praise for Robert’s (the winemaker) “delicate and handcrafted wine and Layla’s incredible art”.

Another reviewer, referring to negative comments posted under the aliases “Joe Sams’, ‘Anthony Espinoza’, ‘Moe BB’ and ‘James K’, added: “[They] are not rating the quality wines here, they’re rating the owner her character and how she operates the winery. They will ignore the health rating which is excellent and the quality staff which is excellent and the wine that is excellent. And the operations which are legal and safe. Maybe we should know about these¬†individuals and whether or not they are the same person”.

A hearing is scheduled at a small claims court for 12 July.

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