One for the Road threatens Nanfang with legal action over our review

Cam MacMurchy , October 24, 2012 9:15am

It’s not everyday our humble website is threatened with legal action, but that is what has transpired over The Nanfang’s review of a fabled Dongguan bar and restaurant.

One for the Road has contacted us regarding our review, in which one of our staff visited One for the Road and wrote about their experience. In our view, the review was fair and based on the writer’s impressions of the food quality, ambiance, price, and service. The review attracted several comments, with some explicitly disagreeing with the review’s conclusions. Those comments all remain on the site and can be reviewed here.

The owner of One for the Road, Jason Cakebread, contacted us to dispute the review and requested us remove the bar’s listing and event information from The Nanfang.  The email chain below is in chronological order (all typos, spelling mistakes, etc have been retained):

Dear Madam/Sir,

You are entitled to write any form of review you wish about what ever establishment you wish.

However, I never gave you idiots permission to place One for the Road or her events in your website.

We do not want our good name associated with your sorry excuse of a website/magazine.

As I said, write any review you wish as the people who have gone to One for the Road know it’s full of shit.

But remove us from your crappy, out of date listings! (you had no permission from us to use our name)

Take our events off your sorry excuse of a website! (as I said you had no permission from us to use our name)

If this is not done we will pursue the matter further as we have consulted our lawyer who says we have grounds to sue.

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your email. We’re sorry you feel so strongly about the review. Just as some background information, we’re quite big fans of One for the Road and have visited several times. In fact, I personally recommend visitors to Dongguan to try OFTR and we did a Nanfang TV video promoting the restaurant – totally free of charge – here.

We have a team of writers in the PRD that occasionally review venues. Of them, we ask a couple of things: 1) they do not inform the bar/restaurant that they are conducting a review for Nanfang to ensure as authentic of an experience as possible; and b) be clear about their experiences, both positive and negative, specifically with regard to food quality, service, price, and ambiance.

We edited the review for One for the Road but generally find it to be fair. In the review, the writer noted the mac & cheese was “tasty”, that good things were said of the ribs, that the portions of the crab cakes were “generous”, and so on. On the negative side, comments were made about service and time waiting for the food, which is a factual representation of what that writer experienced on the day they were at the bar.

Our primary responsibility is to our readers, and we want to do the best we can to provide them with the latest information pertaining to bars and restaurants across the PRD. We have comment sections open on all of our articles and venues for people to leave their own feedback, and we are pleased that people have used this forum to respond to our review of OFTR.

We hope to work cooperatively with One for the Road going forward. We receive substantial traffic from overseas and Hong Kong, specifically from people who are unfamiliar with Dongguan and are looking for a place to eat, have a beer, and relax. Many of these people stumble upon your bar’s listing page, and I have no doubt that many have visited your bar as a result. We have the legal right to list your bar’s information on our website, however would regretfully remove it as a courtesy should you restate your request to do so.

Kind regards,
Cam MacMurchy
Editor in Chief
The Nanfang
Jason followed-up with another email:

Your review was absolute shod, we are not just here for hangovers greasy food burgers and mash!

You will have quite a few comments from customers as they were as offended by what said as I am.

I challenge you to allow those comments to remain on the review.

You will have no cooperation with us and you WILL remove us from your events and listings from today otherwise I will pursue this matter. As stated by our lawyer, you do not have the legal right to add us on your listings and events without our permission and I will test this in court.

PLEASE BELIEVE ME I HAVE ALREADY CONSULTED OUR LAWYER AND ANYONE THAT KNOWS ME WILL TELL YOU I WILL FOLLOW THROUGH!

We do not need you to help with visitors from anywhere as our reputation is far greater internationally and domestically than your website and is the main reason you are desperate to keep our name on your site.

To which we replied:

Dear Jason,

We run an open platform that encourages an exchange of opinions. As such, the comments under our review (and any other comments posted in the future) will remain posted as long as they adhere to our terms of conduct. So far, all of them do.

I’d like to reiterate that we have a legal right to list public venues in a database of bars and restaurants. We do this as a service to both our readership and our bar and restaurant partners. As of today, we have over 1,000 venues – many of which are in Dongguan – comprising the largest English-language bar and restaurant database in the Pearl River Delta. Our readers have found us to be a very useful resource, and we will continue to be so with or without One for the Road in our listings. As a courtesy and according to your request, will will remove One for the Road listings and event information within the next 24 hours.

Best of luck with the restaurant.
Regards,
Cam.

One for the Road’s listing and event information have been removed as of now, in accordance with Cakebread’s request.  We also contacted Cakebread to inform him of our intention to publish the email correspondence, and he had no objections.

This is a good opportunity to elaborate on what we do at The Nanfang. Our staff has been based in the Pearl River Delta for many years. I have lived in Beijing and Shanghai as well, while my other co-founder has spent years in Taiwan. We believe the PRD is the best place to live and work in all of China, and we launched the Nanfang to celebrate South China by providing information not found anywhere else. This includes the largest collection of bar and restaurant listings in English anywhere in the PRD as well as news and translations from the Chinese press.

However, we are not perfect. We are a very young site and there are still many things we need to do to make it better for our readers. Several of you have left us comments in our stories, left reviews of venues, or emailed us to disagree with how we do things, offer praise (thank you!) or suggestions. We deeply appreciate it, and have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline to share with you in the months ahead.

Our staff pour countless hours into their contributions to the site, and that includes restaurant and bar reviews. Most do it for no compensation at all, other than their love of the PRD. All reviews are edited by our team to ensure accuracy before they are posted to the site. We stand by every word of our reviews. However, we don’t expect everyone to agree with our conclusions, which is why we have a vibrant comments section that is open to everyone.

Also, we will not remove any review under threat from anyone. Our reviews are not done haphazardly and are based on the reviewer’s impressions of a venue based on price, quality, service and ambiance. In terms of service quality, things like food delivery times are factual representations and are not subjective in any way. By publishing this, we are passing along valuable information to our readers. Issues pertaining to food quality and ambiance are all subjective, which again is why we encourage dissenting opinions in our comments section.

We are publishing this email exchange so our readers understand why One for the Road’s listing and event information are no longer listed on The Nanfang. Although no longer found on our dining and nightlife pages, we still have over 1,000 venues in our database and that list grows everyday.  We will work closely with our bar and restaurant partners across the PRD to get the most relevant information to you in the best way we can.