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Mark Lipton

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Re: Wine Spectator gives Award of Excellence to fake restaurant

by Mark Lipton » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:35 pm

Dale Williams wrote:I don't have any sympathy for WS. I just don't think that Goldstein is such a shining light, as his report about the scam left out some significant details.


Add to that the question of why he ran the scam in the first place. Certainly, there may be a few people out there unaware of just how ridiculous the WS AoE excellence is who'll read his blog, but I suspect that Mr. Goldstein's motives are more about self-promotion than they are about educating a naïve public.

Cynically yours,
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Daniel Rogov

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Re: Wine Spectator gives Award of Excellence to fake restaurant

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:23 pm

In re my comment about con-men only being able to con those who themselves are looking for an easy buck. The person who gives you a hundred dollars "deposit" so that the con-man can "clear" a deal in which they will both make instant thousands; the person who buys a "stolen emerald" for a thousand dollars thinking he will get the offered reward of ten thousand; etc.

True, one can get stung by the person who "needs twenty dollars" for train fair home, but that is not a true scam. That's just an out-and-out lie. A true scam or con always involves a double-take (think for example of Robert Redford's The Sting).

In the present case how would we react if it were not Mr. Goldstein who had pulled it off but Woodward and Bernstein (of Watergate and Deep Throat fame). My guess is that we would be applauding them.

Perhaps by focusing on Goldstein we are avoiding the more important issue - of what happened at the Wine Spectator. Wouldn't we be applauding the Spectator now if they had simply come back and said "Wow. We goofed big time. And we'll make good and damned sure it won't happen in the future". I can say this......it would not be difficult to name a dozen newspapers and magazines at which such an incident would have cost several top-level people their jobs.

Just my opinion of course, and not reflecting on the Wine Spectators wine reviews or on their in-depth restaurant coverages and reviews.

Best
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Nigel Groundwater

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Re: Wine Spectator gives Award of Excellence to fake restaurant

by Nigel Groundwater » Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:28 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:In the present case how would we react if it were not Mr. Goldstein who had pulled it off but Woodward and Bernstein (of Watergate and Deep Throat fame). My guess is that we would be applauding them.
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Not unless they were exposing criminal intent [as in Watergate] and there was a less obvious conflict of interest in the motivation for the exposure.
It is clearly possible to ridicule a system that relies heavily on the integrity of the organisation applying for an award and to question the sincerity of both that organsation and the WS but are people so certain that the system is being so abused as to be valueless and if so where is the evidence?
For that to be the case there would have to be a substantial number of participating restaurants with fraudulent proprietors constantly pissing off clients resulting in multiple continuing complaints. Is that so? Numbers? Names?
Just because some do cheat and all could doesn't mean that a significant number are doing so since there are obvious business debits for being caught.

The WS could certainly improve the situation: better checking of the lists against their database which could surely be automated if the submissions were required to be in an appropriate e.g. electronic format. Plus other routine checks that required a simple submission which could be automatically checked against the original. Plus enhancements to remote performance monitoring and complaints process and follow up etc. The WS say they already drop restaurants based on a complaints procedure.

IMO it would also be better to describe the process as a wine list rating than a restaurant award for excellence while making it absolutely clear that the WS ‘endorsement’ is no more than an acknowledgement that, if the restaurant delivers what it says it will, the wine list meets a good, very good or excellent level.

It appears that the WS recognise they have some issues to deal and have said they will be dealt with. Let’s see.
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David Creighton

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Re: Wine Spectator gives Award of Excellence to fake restaurant

by David Creighton » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:03 pm

i'm not wierded out by this fake restaurant award thing.

1. i truly believe you can scam anybody. regardless of how much they try; if you knew they were coming you could change the marque on any restaurant anywhere to any name you wish and hand out menues and even serve a meal to one table on the grounds there is some local holiday or something. no one can be so careful they can avoid a person who wants to scam them.
2. why do you want to scam them?
3. checking every restaurant would require not just a $250 fee but something very much in excess of that(and even then, see #1 above)
4. wasn't this supposed to be an example of a problem with rating wines? the wines on the list were in fact badly rated but the list was well rated and the only info they had. the story isn't supposed to be the scam itself, it is supposed to be the problems of rating wines and wine lists generally. they surely couldn't have submitted a fake list for a real restaurant! how else was he supposed to have checked if the ratings of the individual wines affected the rating of the list?
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Ian Sutton

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Re: Wine Spectator gives Award of Excellence to fake restaurant

by Ian Sutton » Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:18 am

Nigel Groundwater wrote:
Daniel Rogov wrote:In the present case how would we react if it were not Mr. Goldstein who had pulled it off but Woodward and Bernstein (of Watergate and Deep Throat fame). My guess is that we would be applauding them.
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Rogov



IMO it would also be better to describe the process as a wine list rating than a restaurant award for excellence ...

It appears that the WS recognise they have some issues to deal and have said they will be dealt with. Let’s see.


Fully agree with your first comment and in the latter, it's a shame that the initial official response went on the attack, rather than acknowledging any failings. Does this mean they've in later comments they've acknowledged the shortcomings?

regards

Ian
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Dave Erickson

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Re: Wine Spectator gives Award of Excellence to fake restaurant

by Dave Erickson » Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:48 pm

Eric Asimov had a column on this in "The Pour," but I notice it has suddenly disappeared. A little too close to the bone for the New York Times?
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