Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The Inspection Racket

Nice restaurant you got here; be a shame if something were implied to have happened to it
(+1, -1)
  [vote for,

Approach the owner of a restaurant announcing that you are an agent with a private health inspection firm and that you have just completed an examination of the premises. Offer to transfer the exclusive rights in perpetuity to the use of the inspection report in exchange for a "licensing fee" of, say, $5,000. The report consists of technically true—but ultimately meaningless—scary sounding claims such as the following:

- On average, fewer than five insects or insect parts were found in each meal served

- Up to ten percent of meat was found to be well past its expiration date, or otherwise unfit for human consumption

- Employees who may have been sick were nonetheless regularly permitted to work

- Inspected food often contained large pieces of unidentified organic matter

- In several instances, significant quantities of deoxyribonucleic acid (a chemical often found in medical waste and raw sewage) were detectable in food served

- Several hundred strains of bacteria were identifiable within the restaurant, including E. coli

- Based on this inspection, we feel compelled to provide this restaurant with a "one star" health grade.

If the owner refuses to pay up, stand on the sidewalk outside the restaurant handing out copies to passersby until he does. Since you're not stating anything untrue, and aren't on his property, he can't compel you legally to stop.

NOTE: This is strictly a Gedankenexperiment. I strongly advise people NOT to actually do this.

ytk, Aug 07 2011

//he can't compel you legally to stop// http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion
5th para., "Neither extortion nor blackmail require..." [mouseposture, Aug 07 2011]


       //he can't compel you legally to stop//   

       But can you be arrested for your earlier attempt at extortion?   

       This scam must surely have been tried many times already with restaurant reviews.
mouseposture, Aug 07 2011

       That's a nice racket you got going here, be a shame if the maffia found out about it.
zeno, Aug 07 2011

              //he can't compel you legally to stop//      

       Yes he can. The intent of the action and the approach cause it to be actionable even if the content is not strictly so.
MechE, Aug 07 2011

       "Hi, is that head of Greendale Kindergarten? I'm the guy who used to own Giuseppe's. I was calling with some good news about the father of little ytk junior - I thought you'd like to know that the police have not found any evidence on which to charge him with child abuse, so you're probably safest assuming that any minor grazes or bruises on ytk junior are just the result of accidents."
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 07 2011

       At least one d-bag has tried this where I work. We saw right through it, of course.
DIYMatt, Aug 07 2011

       And broke his nose?
zeno, Aug 07 2011

       Well, you're not threatening to do anything; you're merely informing him that you've completed an inspection, and also letting him know what the licensing terms are for the report. But if that's even cutting it a bit close, you could skip that step and wait until the owner approaches you.   

       I mean, yeah, it's still obviously extortion, but the idea is to tread as closely to the legal line as possible without crossing it. Maybe add some comment to the report about the sad state of government health regulations that would permit a restaurant like this to continue operating, just so it becomes political speech and gets an extra degree of protection.
ytk, Aug 08 2011

       Yes and then in the real world they break your nose.
zeno, Aug 08 2011

       [ytk] - the legal line that you have to avoid crossing is this: you can not accept, or offer to accept, money, goods, services, or consideration of any kind for your report.   

       If the owner can get you to take *anything* in return for your report, you are thoroughly and absolutely sunk.   

       In practice, this kind of thing is done by government agencies - and they don't like competition.
lurch, Aug 08 2011


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