By Kristy Koehler, July 11 2019—
The r/UCalgary subreddit is expressing their displeasure with MacHall’s newest food vendor, U’Toppings Pizza. The pizza sizes, wait times, pricing and the inability to purchase by the slice have been hot topics on the website since the outlet opened in May. One Reddit user has even designed a shirt using Zazzle — a website that allows users to create customizable products — emblazoned with the hashtag #BoycottUtoppings on the front.
U’Toppings allows patrons to select either an eight-inch or 12-inch pizza and choose from a selection of sauces, cheeses and toppings. The pizza is then cooked to order and boxed up for the purchaser. Eight-inch pizzas are $6.99 and the larger size costs $10.99.
The outlet has just over 50 Google reviews, a good portion of them negative. A June 29 Reddit post called on users to “hit them up with those bad reviews” after accusing the outlet of posting their own positive reviews, something U’Toppings manager Kyle Zhao says is completely false. Zhao said the negative reviews are beginning to impact business.
There are also positive reviews, some of which seem to be an attempt at humour. One such review states: “Just by giving a piece of U’toppings pizza to a prof, made them so happy that they moved my hard earned C- to a well deserved A+.”
These reviews raise questions about the legitimacy of user-generated reviews for products and services. Google’s own Contributed Content Policy explains that “contributions must be based on real experiences and information. Deliberately fake content, copied or stolen photos, off-topic reviews, defamatory language, personal attacks, and unnecessary or incorrect content are all in violation of our policy.” The policy also indicates that Google reserves “the right to disable user-generated contributions for individual business profiles and business categories to prevent abuse.” However, there is no indication of how long a review would be allowed to remain up and damaging to a business before it is flagged as fake or malicious or how many negative posts in a short frequency would result in triggering a shutdown of user-generated content for a particular restaurant.
Zhao acknowledges that when the outlet opened, there were some legitimate complaints regarding size and that these issues were rectified through training. As far as not offering pizza by the slice, Zhao said that it may never be available.
“Our 8-inch pizza is just like two slices of a 14–16 inch pizza with more toppings than any other pizza restaurant,” Zhao said in an e-mail.
As for the wait times, U’Toppings will be looking at offering a signature pizza that is ready to go for people who don’t have time or don’t want to wait. Zhao says the outlet will try to have as much pizza ready as possible and waiting in a warmer. This will likely begin in September. However, for those who want to build their own pizza, he says there should be no more than a five-minute wait to order a pizza and receive it.
“I hope you understand we just opened [at the] end of May, there [are] still a lot of things to improve to make our restaurant better,” said Zhao.
For now, active users on the r/UCalgary subreddit have certainly made their feelings known about the new outlet and it goes to show that food is an important piece of the campus experience.