Why yelp.com is bullshit

Several years ago a new client unbeknownst to me leaves a very positive review for me on Yelp.  This is how I first discovered this business rating web site.  Over the following years many of my clients also left very positive reviews.  At one point there were 30 reviews all with a five star rating.  It was at this point I received a phone call from a Yelp sales Rep.  She was trying to persuade me that for a mere $300 a month she could increase my business.  As with all paid advertising I refused.  A day later I received a phony request in my e-mail from a supposed yelp reader.  Within days all of my positive reviews had disappeared leaving only two out of the 30.  For my category business I had by far the most reviews.  Where did my reviews go?  Who had deleted them?  It was at this time that I decided to do some investigation.  It turns out that Yelp works in very mysterious ways.  After refusing to purchase advertising, Yelp decided that the vast majority of my reviews were bogus.  Either placed there by myself or by friends family or whoever.

It seems that I’m not the only one that feels this way.  This has become such an obvious problem and garnered so much attention that it is now a major headline.  I have received business from people who believe Yelp is a legitimate place of creditable reviews.  Yelp.com set itself up as the premier social based review site and wields a great deal of power because of that.  This website has punished myself and apparently tens of thousands of other businesses who refuse to be forced to pay.  When a client takes the time to write a review for Google or Yellow pages those companies do not tamper with it.

I believe most people have no idea how yelp actually works.  As an individual your review is only considered of value if you participate on a very regular basis.  Taking the time to write a single review once a year constitutes you as worthless in the eyes of Yelp.  Yelp considers itself a social web site and it appears to have some kind of a pecking order.  The more reviews you post the more power you have.  It’s not uncommon to see reviewers with 600 or more posts.  These ego maniacs and apparently there quite a few can make or break a business.

What has to happen in order to make Yelp trustworthy is a revolution by its customer base. If the revenue stream stops on Yelp it will have to change. All businesses must stop paying advertising fees immediately. And demand that yelp offers full transparency on how it does its business. Businesses must be allowed to respond in writing to negative reviews as it is quite clear many of these are generated falsely. To guarantee the validity of any review it can no longer be left anonymous. All reviewers must be confirmed just like Greg’s list is attempting to do. It is not Yelp’s responsibility unless requested to be involved in any of the reviews. Best thing yet to be for Yelp to disappear as it is clear it is corrupt on every single level.

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19 Responses to Why yelp.com is bullshit

  1. Boris says:

    Hi, I am a business owner with a similar problem with Yelp. I’d like to discuss this matter with you. Could you, please email me at renarest@hotmail.com?Thanks. Boris

  2. RJ says:

    Agreed, Yelp is terrible. Our business also has several reviews on Yelp, all are positive except one. Of course they kept the negative one and filtered all the others. Please keep in mind we had nothing to do with the reviews, all are legit, one even coming from the Food Network! I emailed Yelp asking them to review my filters however received this lame response see below:
    (in a nut shell, Yelp will not publish reviews unless the person is established or has a history with Yelp, which is very unfair, especially to the person that took the time to write a review about your business)

    Thanks for contacting Yelp about your reviews.

    The review filter sometimes affects legitimate reviews, especially those from less established reviewers. Since fake reviews rarely announce themselves on their face, the filter is left to look at other signals and work with the information at hand. We think it does a pretty good job given the sheer volume of reviews and the surprising number of people out there trying to game the system to benefit their own business or hurt someone else’s, though there’s always room for improvement.

    It’s worth remembering that the filter isn’t static – the reviews that it filters today may not be the same reviews that it filters tomorrow as it constantly assesses and reassesses different trust factors. As a result, filtered reviews may find their way back onto your main profile page as the reviewers become more established on Yelp.

  3. Adrian says:

    Could not agree more! I gave a legitimate review for a condo building that I actually live in, to help others from being scammed by the building owners as I was, but Yelp filtered it out. As I live in only one building, I cannot give reviews for other places. This, of course, makes my review-and curiously others with the same complaints- illegitimate.

    It also seems from the previous posts, that some businesses, are being negatively affected in the opposite way. With Yelp’s B.S. “Algorithm” system, it seems that Yelp is actually worse than having no reviews at all.

    Try something else. Yelp is a SCAM!

    • nicole says:

      AGREE 100%…..YELP SUCKS!!!! they are not helping business’s they are destroying business’s…unless you pay them…they are nothing but organized crime!!!

  4. Mark Kameo says:

    People should pass this on so the word gets around. I have had several good reviews that I left for places disappear. It looks like I found the reason why.

  5. Wright says:

    Wow! Ditto. Same exact scenario. We have 20+ positive legitimate independent reviews only to have them disappear and be left with some dipshit’s 2-star review wherein he describes 5-star service, and then a single 5-star from someone. Likewise, all of the good reviews seemed to have vanished after we refused to purchase advertising. We don’t point people to Yelp anymore. Oh, too boot, Yelp said that they did *not* follow up with a person’s initial review with an email saying, “just to let you know, you’re review will not be permanent unless you make x number more reviews.”

  6. Lee Birnbaum says:

    I am a consumer, not business owner, who has spent a great deal of time leaving sincere, detailed reviews, and recently discovered that abotu half of them, always the negative ones, were “filtered” out for being “not ligitimate”.
    It then occurred to me that parhaps these merchants are customers (or yelp is targeting them as customers) and that’s why they are filtering, but I am unsure.
    What’s more, Yelp makes it very difficult to even see the filtered ones. You have to enter the odd phrase, which unlike most security phrases, is very difficult to read/retype for yelp.

    In fact, there’s one merchant, “Burton and Sons Carpet Cleaning” in my area that only shows 3 reviews, and 30 filtered ones. That’s right, THIRTY filtered out of a total of 33 reviews!
    Here’s a link to this particular merchant and look for your self at the tremendous filtering that occurred:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/burton-and-son-carpet-cleaning-mckinney-2#atb_alias:AboutThisBizHistory/query:burton%20and%20sons

    Here’s an additional kicker about Yelp…
    I noticed that when logged in and I look at a company I reviewed, my review shows up as if it’s part of the ligitimate ones. So the reviewed probably never even knows that it’s been filtered.
    But when I specifically log out, and then pull it up, suddenly, it dissappears and is int he filtered batch.

    Again, I’m angry as a consumer, but for you as a busines, it seems like Yelp can actually hurt you.
    THe argument that the reviews can only help, or do nothing is wrong, because if people trust Yelp, and they filter out positive reviews, while other competing business retain them, then suddenly the effect of Yelp’s existance is a negative one to you.
    THis sounds an awfly lot like the old mob days –where a store owner had to pay “protection” to the mob, else, negative consequences would occur.
    I would look into deceptive trade laws and the federal trade commission if I were you and a possible complaint filing.

    If you ever decide to take action, possible even legal action against Yelp, perhaps for deceptive trade in that they dishonestly lead customers to business based on jaded reviews perhaps, I’d be glad to help if possible, as I now feel, based solely on my observations of course, as a consumer, Yelp is not a ligitimate busines and should be exposed.

  7. ceyda says:

    The biggest crap i have ever seen in my life! i m a consumer and i have rated some local business with 5 star rating and they have deleted next day,i wanted to dig and understand why is that happened and i finally found out that local business was not advertising with yelp,wow what a bullshit never ever YELP again!

  8. Carlos Manuel Godoy says:

    I wrote a terrific review for my dentist not long ago. I’ve written reviews on YELP! before, but never bothered to check if they’d been removed or not. In any case, I attended a Patient Appreciation Party hosted by my dentist and casually mentioned that I’d written a review of his practice.

    He acknowledged having seen it, but then began to tell me that he’d received a call from a YELP! sales representative much like the author of this article. When he declined to participate, my review (along with all of the other positive reviews) were removed. This has to be illegal.

    Blackmail. Censorship. Extortion. Surely there are legal grounds upon which to file a class action lawsuit against YELP! and I hope to be involved in the effort. This is unjust! An amazing dentist is being blackballed and the public is being funneled to less qualified service providers.

    Someone needs to stop this! If anyone has had any luck filing a grievance with their local State Attorney’s Office or any other industry regulation board, please make mention of it here. I will begin seeking legal recourse today.

    • Kelly S. Bernhardt says:

      We are like idiots! Yelp is asshole for sure but no one, I mean literally NON OF THE PEOPLE can do anything about it…How f…ing bullshit all those best reliable local directory service claims is all over the internet, everybody knows about it but no one can do anything…

  9. John says:

    To have the attorney general investigate Yelp.com for deceptive, bullying, and shoddy practices. http://wh.gov/PUM7

  10. arash says:

    This company is a joke. I had the same problem. All my reviews were being filtered. They contacted me to advertise with them and I refused. Finally after three years they mananged to get me to advertise with them. I saw no difference with my customers or any additional reviews. I had more reviews without advertising with them than with advertising with them. When I called them to confront them about the lack of response, first it took them one week to respond and secondly they had told me that they made a mistake and that I wasn’t in front of the amount of people they promised. If I hadn’t watched my account they would have just kept charging me for no reason. I want to break my contract but they are going to charge me 600 dollars to do so. Now I’m just pretty much paying to end my contract in a few months. I would never again advertise with them. I have 100 reviews and over 30 filtered reviews that are all 5 stars reviews that they removed. This company is very shady in every aspect of the way they run their business. Can’t believe I got suckered into spending money with them.

  11. My spouse and I stumbled over here different web address and
    thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.

  12. Michael says:

    It is absolute nonsense. I paid their advertising fee’s for one year to see what the changes would be like. There was nothing there that could confirm that I was actually getting more business due to the advertising. Once I canceled – all of my positive reviews (even if the reviewer has multiple reviews of other businesses that are not filtered) are now being sent straight to the filtered section. Except my one reviewer who, in his actual review, writes, “I used them over two years ago – here is what I remember”. That is clearly a valid review. I am being punished because I don’t want to pay them anymore. Honestly – it’s all a joke…..

  13. Drew Siegel says:

    I used to work for a restaurant in Venice Ca. The owners were very busy and needed the staff to help answer the phones in the morning hours when they were off doing errons. Long story short, We recieved a phone call from a lady that works for Yelp briding us to delete our bad reviews for a certain fee. In that moment, I was busy and told them to just call back and speak with the owners. at a different time. But, it definitely felt like she was being a abusive, and trying to create a false impression of how our business should be seen. Very corrupt indeed!!

  14. Bjorn Palenius says:

    I agree with all this! I wrote a review for a business with health related issues but my review, only one, was listed by Yelp as unimportant and it wouldn’t help the community! I was beeing honest and fair in my review!

  15. John Ryan says:

    I have the same problem. We have a lot of good review from legit customers. Yelp called our store and offer us advertising opportunities to help bring more customers to our shop. We are a small shop and don’t have enough to buy the ads. A few days later, many of the positive reviews are GONE. This is what criminals do. YELP IS AN ORGANIZED CRIME. I would like to visit with my lawyer. We are going to take them to court.

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