We are all not running bike shops or coffee lounges.
There are those among us who run schools, banks, hospitals and the like.
This is all just a way to generate UGC type search engine bait so that Google can claim the top of the SERPS for the "most popular" places.
Sure we can dispute by saying "we're sorry to hear that your pie melted"? Who seems to think that is a fair illustration of the kinds of things that people want to complain about? Somebody who never worked in corporate America or had anything resembling fiduciary responsibilities?
What about the rest of the world that has more important things to worry about like reputation, branding, cyber-bullying and really nasty customer service issues, nevermind genuine legal matters?
(At least over on YouTube we can turn comments off - why not on Google Places - aren't these guys sharing best practices back and forth?)
How about we start a Google Place for Google itself.
Would that be rich?
Imagine non-revenue building outbound links to their most worried about competitors, contextually rotated to match the 'personalized' issues of each surfer.
And when someone writes a negative review (possibly slanderous or worse) the only thing they can do is offer an endless place for flame wars to proliferate?
This would be comic if it were not tragic.
There really are some excellent places where reviews do raise the level of the discourse - however it is on highly moderated places or within unique demographic or psychographic niches that allow self policing simply because they tend to draw people who still have respect for others manifested in manners and ethics and other grown up behaviors.
Still this requires a LOT of work that the more mature humans have to do to keep the place cleaned up and above board.
Right now, Google does not seem to be one of these.
They seem to be making a deal with lowest common denominator type behaviors and what is to become of this?
This is a typical model found on sites like eBay where reviews have been important for a much longer time period. On sites like eBay, if a business maintains an overwhelming percent of positive reviews, the negative reviews are generally overlooked. It will probable end up being like that with Google search also.