Talk:San Francisco/Nob Hill-Russian Hill
Rudy Colombini And Spam
Can people please help me keep an eye out for spam from this guy. He has already been cited on Wikipedia as a 'persistent spammer'. See a discussion about him on Wikipedia here  and  This article documents how he has reportedly been trying to pass himself off as a member of the band 'The Divine Comedy' (..and not the obscure Goth band he was in of the same name), advertising his hotels on an encyclopedic website, replacing links to desirable and notable hotels with those of his own etc etc... All articles relating to him on Wikipedia have been deleted due to either his lack of notability as a musician, or as unwanted spam on an encyclopedic website.
There is also a lot of spam on Wikitravel from the same IP address as was used on Wikipedia, 18.104.22.168 - this is almost certainly Rudy himself as this IP resolves to his offices at The Nob Hill Hotel, 835 Hyde Street, San Francisco. You can see a history of Wikitravel edits from this IP address here 
network:IP-Network:22.214.171.124/27 network:Org-Name:Pacific Equities network:Street-Address:835 HYDE network:City:SAN FRANCISCO network:State:CA network:Postal-Code:94109-
Actually, he runs four hotels in total in the San Francisco - the first three of which were advertised on Wikitravel, and all of which get horrible reviews (although saying that the James Court fares ok). He runs them through a company called Pacific Equities West LLC, see 
- Villa SOMA, 1554 Howard Street
- Nob Hill Hotel, 835 Hyde Street
- Fitzgerald Hotel Union Square, 620 Post Street
- James Court Hotel (a.k.a. The Nob Hill Pension), 1353-1355 Bush Street
When you look at the reviews from guests on websites like Tripadvisor it becomes apparent that these hotels have a real problem as they get unusually poor reviews. Almost half of the reviewers give the Nob Hill and the Fitzgerald Hotel just 1 star out of 5. Almost all of those complained about the management trying to scam them in some way like through extra credit card charges. Some guests were charged $500 for allegedly smoking in their rooms, when the guests in question apparently don't even smoke. Others booked the Nob Hill only upon arrival to shipped off to the lesser rated Fitzgerald without rebate or explanation. Still others complained about being double charged on their credit card. There were also many reviews that complained about the Nob Hill, The Fitzgerald and Villa Soma having a bed-bug problem. One of the reviewers of Villa Soma points out that this hotel it is listed on the 'Bed-Bug-Blog', and having checked on the reference on the blog, reportedly this building has had an ongoing problem with bed bugs for years. 
As you can see from the contributions history, he has been deleting references to his competitor hotels like the Inter-Continental Mark Hopkins Hotel, The Cartwright Hotel. The Crowne Plaza, Comfort Inn by the Bay, Holiday Inn Select Downtown etc  He has also added editorials suggesting that his hotels are among the "fanciest hotels" in San Francisco and comparable with establishments like the Ritz Carlton and The Huntington Hotel  - this is simply untrue. In an obvious attempt to make his hotels more visible, he has also been constantly editing an article to ensure that his hotels remain at the top of the list  and then listing his hotels under multiple districts in San Francisco. At one point he had the Fitzgerald hotel listed under districts North Beach, Marina, Nob Hill, Civic Center and Union Square - the Nob Hill Hotel and Villa Soma were also listed under multiple districts.
For these reasons I have deleted references to both the Nob Hill and the Fitzgerald Hotels. The Villa Soma references had already been removed.
He has also been advertising non-existent musical venues.  He has been advertising his property at 1353-1355 Bush street as one of the following:
- The San Francisco Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Music City San Francisco
- Rudy Colombini's Center for the Performing Arts
The Wikitravel postings made it sound like these are three separate and distinct venues, when in fact they are all at the same address and none of them actually exist at all yet. 1353-1355 Bush Street is a hotel called the James Court Hotel, a.k.a. The Nob Hill Pension  There are plans to set up a musical venue here but they are stalled, apparently due to objections. This is not going to come to fruition for at least 3-4 years, if at all. That's kind of deceiving for people who see one of these on Wikitravel and then turn up only to find a hotel!
He has also been advertising three online blogs that are supposed to cover the events and happenings in Union Square, Nob Hill and North Beach, but all they really do is advertise his hotels and interests front and center. I am all but certain that the anonymous author of these blogs is Rudy himself. 
I have reverted most of his edits to date but please can you help me keep an eye out for future spam relating to the aforementioned Hotels, Venues and Blogs to ensure that they do not re-appear on Wikitravel. Thanks. Asterix 17:08, 26 February 2008 (EST)
- I have checked various web reviews sites for the hotels in question, and I endorse Asterix's view of them. -- Colin 18:19, 26 February 2008 (EST)
FRAUDULENT HOTEL REVIEWS
One last quick point, I feel is really important. Just recently, I noticed a very suspicious pattern of reviewing for his hotels, across almost all the prominent Travel Websites that allow the public to post reviews. The suspicious reviews stretched all the way back to 2003. As an example, the most blatantly obvious of these were two reviews of the Nob Hill Hotel that were posted on 'Tripadvisor.com' - both reviews were posted within a week of each other, both had given the hotel a perfect '5 star' rating, and strangely, the Usernames supplied by the two supposed reviewers were identical to that of the manager of the James Court Hotel, and that of the Pacific Equities Finance Manager, both of whom work at Pacific Equities offices on 835 Hyde Street. Convinced of foul play, I contacted a total of six major websites online and reported Rudy Colombini, his management team led by Angelos Kolobotos, on suspicion of fraudulently posing as real guests and reviewing their own hotels in order to manipulate their ranking and popularity.
Afterwards, for legal reasons I guess, these sites would not give me any real feedback other than to thank me for the information, and to say that they had conducted a thorough investigation of the matter, and that any appropriate action had been taken. However, post investigation, I analyzed all six websites and cumulatively for the Nob Hill and the Fitzgerald Hotel alone, they had removed Fifty-Eight '5 Star' reviews - this represented a whopping 30% of the total number of reviews for these two hotels on those sites!! On Tripadvisor, the most popular of these sites, both hotels instantly crashed in their rankings, with the Nob Hill almost rated as the worst hotel in San Francisco at 221/231, and the Fitzgerald 211/231.
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about all of this, but for all of the above reasons I don't think any of these hotels should be advertised on Wikitravel. Furthermore, if anyone has a bit of spare time, it's also worth keeping an eye out for any other, even semi-positive reviews, of the aforementioned hotels. If you spot any suspicious ones, now and in the future - Report Them!! Thanks again, and apologies about the length of this. Asterix 13:20, 8 March 2008 (EST)