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December 24, 2003
Why Not Just Improve Your Food?

Silly lawsuits with astronomical asking figures seem to be more and more the norm than the exception. This, then, should come as no surprise:

The owners of Lucky Cheng's, a cabaret-restaurant with cross-dressing male waiters and entertainers, have filed a $10 million lawsuit accusing the Zagat Survey of libel for giving the restaurant a low rating for its food. The suit said Lucky Cheng's has lost about $30,000 a week since Oct. 14, 2003, when the 2004 Zagat guide was published with the low food rating — 9 out of a possible 30.

Zagat's calculates its ratings by compiling feedback from patrons of the restaurant, and then publishes the results in a popular guide. Low ratings means bad business, no matter how many cross-dressing entertainers and waitstaff you hire, as Lucky Cheng's has found out. Normally, when businesses get low ratings from its patrons, they work to improve the product or the service, but at Lucky Cheng's, they're out to shoot the messenger. Why?

The lawsuit notes that before a rating of 8 for the 2003 guide, Lucky Cheng's consistently received a score of 13 for food quality. The restaurant's owners claim the food quality has rebounded and argue the guide should have checked the low food score to make sure it was accurate.

They could only score a 13 out of 30 on the last survey and they expect people to believe a 9 is ridiculously low? I'm no lawyer, but I think they'd have to be able to prove malicious intent in the low rating in order to have a case, and even then, why $10 million? Are Zagat points worth $2.5 million each? If so, Zagat should just charge per point and skip over the whole feedback-analysis process.

Note to Lucky Cheng's: Quit whining, listen to your customers, and fix your food. Note to Lucky Cheng's customers: Stock up on Pepto-Bismol, because it doesn't look like the food will be improving soon.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 24, 2003 12:49 PM

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