January 10, 2011 21 Comments
Today, I go through my bookmarks and find out this document. I had it bookmarked but that was before I start the blog. This time it is about the doctor, restaurant, local business review site Yelp.com
look at this doc. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/29782029/Boris-Levitt-Vs-Yelp
after doing some research, it appears that it is not the first, neither the last legal suit that Yelp.com is getting.
Basically from the document, small business owner Boris Levitt of Renaissance Furniture Restoration is suing Yelp, accusing Yelp.com of removing a lot of the positive reviews after refusing to pay for the advertisements.The business owner claims that after refusing to advertise on Yelp, a large number of 5 stars reviews are removed.
Similar to this, nine small businesses from across the United States have joined the Beck & Lee and Weston suit, including The Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago; Bleeding Heart Bakery of Chicago, Illinois; Scion Restaurant of Washington, D.C.; J.L. Ferri Entertainment, Inc. of New York, New York; Sofa Outlet of San Mateo, California; Celibré, Inc. of Torrance, California; Astro Appliance Service of San Carlos, California; Wag My Tail, Inc., of Tujunga, California; Le Petite Retreat, of Los Angeles, California and Mermaids Cruise of San Francisco, California
I think these are just the tips of an ice berg, or lots of icebergs. By focusing on this, here are some of the comments I find online related to this.
I manage the website for a gym. Here is my experience with Yelp. Our gym had about a dozen reviews on Yelp. 10 were positive. 2 were good. We ran a 6-month campaign on Yelp and it cost a couple thousand bucks. I checked out our analytics and we got minimal traffic and only one conversion. So we called Yelp and politely said thanks but we’re not going to renew the contract. About a month later, all of a sudden, there were 4 positive and 8 negative reviews. The negative reviews didn’t even make any sense. For example one review said that “the pool sucked”. Funny. Our gym doesn’t have a pool. Plus the negative posters had no other Yelp reviews. About the same time a Yelp salesperson called and said very cryptically if we ran an ad campaign they could talk to the “person in charge of the algorithm” and see if the positive reviews could be spotlighted a little more. Honestly, I thought I was talking to a Tony Soprano in training.
Our business had the same experience. As soon as we declined to pay yelp, negative reviews started showing up and positive ones do not show up anymore. Nothing has changed except our declining to pay them.
We are just a mom and pop operation, and we don’t have the resources to investigate this, but we strongly believe the allegations in this story reflect our own experience, and hope these people are able to get answers about yelp’s business practices.
It is normal to have some mixed reviews. However, when there is an abrupt change to all negative it really raises a red flag.
Yelp is terrible & I will NEVER rely upon their reviews ever again.
I went to a hair salon that had rave reviews & I started losing my hair after that.
I spent over an hour writing up my negative review & a few months later I happened to be on their site & saw that it’s removed.
I e-mailed them & they claimed it’s b/c the review could have been spam.
LOL, who spends over an hour on a spam review?
Happened again, I posted another negative review on someone else’s profile & I just went to look now & it’s gone.
It’s absolutely ridiculous.
YELP IS A TOTAL SCAM – ABSOLUTE EXTORTION. THE COMPANIES THAT PAY THEM OFF, GET ROYAL TREATMENT. BUT FOR THOSE COMPANIES WHO WON’T PAY YELP, THEY GET PUNISHED. I had the same experience as many people on this thread. But I was the screwed customer, not the punished company owner. YELP’s scam works for them in BOTH ways. If you post a legitimate and negative review of a company that has screwed you (in my case, I was ripped off for $1,3500 in one fell swoop), but if that company is PAYING YELP, they get an INSTANT message telling the company of your review so they can see it for themselves and then the comment is removed by YELP. Within minutes of posting my sincere review of a company that ripped me off on YELP, someone clicked on “funny” as a response to my comment, which was not funny at all, instead of the other choice which was “helpful.” But how many people would be doing a YELP search for a company called “Compatible Introductions” right after I have submitted my review about it? And within a few days, my comment, that I spent nearly an hour carefully composing to give every detail as though it were going to be used in a court of law, had been deleted. My comment was clearly not spam so I think it was incredibly UNETHICAL of YELP to remove it. As someone said above, what spammer is going to spend an hour on a very detailed review of a company unless he/she received truly HORRIBLE or FANTASTIC service?? YELP IS SUCH A SCAM. IT MADE BEING SCREWED OUT OF $1,300 ALL THE MORE PAINFUL WHEN MY REVIEW WAS DELETED. I can’t afford an attorney to get that money back. I thought at LEAST I could warn others who were considering using that dishonest company but YELP even stole THAT from me. YELP is bad for both good companies who refuse to pay the extortion AND it is bad for consumers who wrongly assume that YELP is an honest broker. I will post both of my comments down below so you can read what I wrote about “Compatible Introductions” a bogus “dating service” here in Vancouver BC. They basically take the $1,300 and then they email you the names and phone numbers of 10 guys who live in your city who are around your same age and call that “compatible.” Wow! Was I ever embarrassed and angry when I realized I had been duped out of so much money in exchange for the names of 10 guys who had absolutely NOTHING in common with me. And I had spent hours filling out a 5 page questionnaire prior to paying them all that money, assuming that the information I was giving them about myself and what I was looking for in a relationship was even going to be read or used in any way for determining real compatibility. But it was not used. I doubt they even read any of my questionaire answers. It was simply the ploy to give you the impression that it was a serious dating service, which it is not. If you are in Vancouver BC, do not even think of giving Compatible Introductions dating service $1,300 because you will get nothing in exchange for it. They will be sweet as honey before they get the money during their one hour interview of you. But AFTER they get your money, they are FINISHED with you. Be warned.
I totally believe that Yelp is the new mob. I use it all the time in San Francisco to find restaurants, contractors, and service providers for the business I own. In the last 3 or 4 months, I’ve talked to 3 business owners who complained about Yelp, wondering why their positive reviews have disappeared. So they’re complaining to me about the service that helped me find them.
I even noticed that positive reviews were disappearing from accounting firms I was considering using. I bookmarked their listings and remembered a few positive reviews. When I went back to those bookmarks a couple of months later, several positive reviews were gone. I find it hard to believe that Yelp’s algorithm flagged astroturfing because these businesses each had less than 5 reviews total.
When Yelp’s salespeople call my business, I’m not talking to them.
I think enough said here. It appears that the review site Yelp.com is accused of exercising the same practice as BBB Better Business Bureau.
It leads me to think that this is the nature of the business. These product review and rating, business review and rating, service rating and review business requires lots of resources, and they usually have lots of funding because the future of the business. However, the pressure of profitable makes these companies to go the wrong way.
They will leverage whatever they have to milk their potential customers. And the most convenient leverage they have is the business reputation, personal reputation of these business and professionals.
I am not a very smart person, I don’t know and don’t have the answer for this. But one thing I can think of is to keep the operation small, and operate it with a mind to help the people you are serving, which is the consumers and the businesses. However, I know I am contradicting myself, how can you operate a successful business and sustain the services without aiming for a profit?
I am going to think about it.
btw, I don’t know if my findings above are the extreme case of Yelp.com, if you have good experience about what you like of Yelp.com, do let me know.