Google Places

The proprietor of D.C. eatery claims that an incorrect—and unvetted—listing on Google Places drove him out of business.

The owner of the 'Serbian Crown' restaurant is taking Google to court. The eatery suffered a 75 percent drop in customers over weekends in early 2012, and for a long time, owner Rene Bertagna could not understand what was going on. Then, a regular diner mentioned Google Places had listed Serbian Crown as closed on weekends and Mondays.

Because of this incorrect listing, Bertagna's business suffered so much he had to lay off the staff and eventually close shop completely by April 2013, about a year after the incorrect Google Places listing went up. Serbian Crown, like most restaurants, was busiest on weekends. Located in a wealthy suburb and known for selling exotic meats (even lion) it had been successful for 40 years.

After the incorrect Google Places information was discovered, the owner hired an Internet consultant to adjust and take control of the listing, however the damage had already been done. Bertagna is claiming that he never used Google Maps, or even the Internet, so he did not make the initial change to the restaurant's hours. His lawsuit puts the blame solely on Google for allowing the listing to be "sabotaged" and not acting swiftly or strongly enough to undo the damage.

With Google Local pages, anyone with a Google Plus account can submit a change, even if it is unverified. Changes include the business' website, address, phone number, name, and, of course, hours of operation. Changes are submitted for review before they are posted, however, this does not prevent inappropriate changes in all cases.

It is unlikely this lawsuit will have an impact on Google. Google's lawyers have already moved to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming "the Serbian Crown should not be permitted to vex Google or this court with such meritless claims." 

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