Businesses Frustrated With Yelp Reviews On Yahoo

By: Chris Crum - April 18, 2014

Yelp has been in the headlines as business owners have been complaining. You’re shocked, right? This seems to be a narrative that the company just can’t shake.

One of the big topics this week has been about a deal Yelp made with Yahoo, which saw the search engine replace its own local reviews with Yelp’s. This has not gone over very well with some businesses.

Is Yahoo better with Yelp’s reviews than with its own? Let us know what you think.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article called “Yelp’s Deal With Yahoo Has Small Businesses Crying Foul”. As it says, businesses owners are complaining that Yahoo has trashed “years of positive feedback from customers” in favor of Yelp’s reviews, which many businesses have already been critical of. Angus Loten reports:

Colonial Hardwood Flooring of Lexington, Mass., amassed six years of mostly positive feedback on its Yahoo Local listing, says owner Dan Tringale. But several weeks ago, after Yahoo began posting reviews from Yelp, nearly 50 Yahoo reviews disappeared, he says.

Potential customers searching Yahoo won’t see a 2012 recommendation that Carla Fortmann confirms she and her husband wrote: “This floor is beautiful and it was very carefully done.” Nor will Yahoo searchers find a June 2012 review from Regina Sasso, of Wilmington, Mass., who says Colonial “provided a competitive quote and delivered meticulous service and work.”

Such praise has been replaced by a single, punctuation-challenged Yelp review, from the “Paul M” screen name, “Respected budget got difficult stain taken care of very attentive and house got an offer opening weekend.”

This is anecdotal, but it’s certainly not the only complaint. I imagine we’ll be hearing more and more as time goes on.

Bloomberg TV ran a segment this week including a discussion with both a disgruntled business owner, and a Yelp exec.

Beverly Ulbrich, is the owner of The Pooch Coach, and says she had about 20 reviews up on Yahoo, and then they just disappeared. All the reviews from Yahoo went away, she said. “We can’t even find or locate them anymore,” she added. They were replaced by reviews from Yelp.

As Beverly explains, the Yahoo reviews weren’t filtered, and many of them, she says, had 5.5 out of 6 stars. On Yelp, she said, they filter and get rid of good reviews some times “or in my case most of the time”.

“If you just look at my Yelp reputation it really looks bad,” she says.

Yelp’s Vincent Sollitto, VP of corporate communications says: “Yelp has to recommend reviews that they find reliable. The reason that there are a number of positive reviews for Beverly’s business that are not being recommended is because in fact ten of them came from the very IP address that was used to claim her business owner’s account, and one of them actually was for a one-star review of a competing business to hers. And so the problem is business owners try to game the system, and websites that don’t try to filter out or verify reliable reviews can get gamed. That’s probably why Yahoo decided to go ahead and use Yelp as the de facto standard for local search.”

Beverly responds, “First of all, in some cases, clients are at your house, and can be using your IP address to write something. That is possible. IP address isn’t the best judgment. people can be at a cafe and use IP address, you know. I don’t think the location of a person writing the review is relevant. I had one guy, for instance, that is in my five-star-deleted – i’ve had like 34 deleted five-star reviews now – I mean not recommended – and another fourteen that have been deleted. And meanwhile I only have seven five-star reviews up. So that’s a big ratio. We’re talking a fifty to seven ratio here. I had one guy that had to go to the library and open an account in order to be able to write a review for me because he didn’t have a computer service, and he wanted to be able to review me because I did good work with him, and he was very pleased, and Yelp removed his review because it seemed suspicious or whatever, but he’s a real person.”

She also says nobody would help her get things straightened out, which brings up a good point, and one echoed by the interviewer. He asks if there is a process Yelp has that could help businesses clear things like this up.

He kind of dances around the question, and is then again asked, “Is there a process by which Beverly can take, and see if some of this can be corrected or modified?”

“I’m not sure what’s to correct or modify,” he says. “I’m trying to explain that Yelp serves as a recommendation service. We help consumers know what the Yelp community thinks about local businesses. Consumers like that approach, and use it, and that’s what helps them find local businesses. There are certainly other businesses that take other approaches, but we have to make sure that the information on our site is reliable.”

I guess that’s a no.

He also doesn’t bother to acknowledge the points Beverly made about cases where people could legitimately be using the same IP addresses, unless Bloomberg cut that part out. That’s where the segment ends.

Could Yelp improve its communication channel with businesses? Do its reviews make Yahoo local search more reliable? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • AdMainiac

    Doesn’t really affect the UK. Zero traffic from Yahoo.

    • Stickaforkinit

      Yahoo management once again proves it wants to the next AOL. This is a great next step by their senior management to help us all say, remember when people used to use Yahoo.

      • http://guerrillainternetmarketing.wordpress.com/ Ernest ODell

        Funny you should mention AOL, but you’re right. AOL has NEVER gotten it right, and still — to this day — is the shoddiest service on the planet. Security is still porous and their users can’t be fixed. CFS.

        • doomedby2020

          AOL is still around? :)

  • Bob

    Everyone is trying to get in the TripAdvisor/Flipkey game. The system is and always was rigged to steer clients to paid ads. Everything that they do, now and in the future will move in the direction of monetization. If they tell you that it has anything to do with “Client satisfaction” you know it is bull hockey!

  • http://everhost.com.au Doogledite

    *rubbing hands*

  • Patrick Crosby

    Well I did have good reviews on Yahoo..but if replaced with Yelp then I will not..Yelp will only show 1 bad review and censor allllll the good ones. I HATE YELP!

  • EJMF1

    The disaster continues at Yahoo.

  • http://guerrillainternetmarketing.wordpress.com/ Ernest ODell

    Yelp sucks. Like Snopes, they are not a reputable source of information or review.

  • eric gundersen

    Yelps computerized review system is unethical and unfair…yahoo is a joke..I think yelp is in collusion w. Brand.com & reputation.com and others..ripping off small businesses

  • http://www.hairkuts.com Guys& Dolls Hairkuts

    Yelp is already a bully when dealing with small businesses – now this makes them even a BIGGER BULLY. As a small business owner, I have been dealing with yelp for over 5 years and it is all 1-sided (yelp’s side). I have made my peace and just hope that potential clients are smart enough to read between the lines.

    • doomedby2020

      Agreed, Yelp merging with Yahoo will benefit us in the long run.

  • Steve Crouch

    If an organization is doing everything right, it doesn’t matter who the reviewing source is whether Yahoo or Yelp! Bottom line – if you are a business owner like myself and operate at 100% plus everyday, then your reviews will accurately reflect it! Steve Crouch, Just Landscape Lighting, LLC – http://www.jllstl.com

    • doomedby2020

      You are -moronik- to ignore what is being said about Yelp, especially in the business you are in. I am almost inclined to leave you a fake bad review just so you can have a taste. But my guess is that you advertise with yelp, and the review would be filtered quickly. Otherwise there is no way in hell you can say NO to a yelp salesman without them taking down your good reviews.

      Better yet, I bet the business you just listed is a competitor and you are hoping for people to leave bad reviews. I search “yelp” articles regularly, and every once in a while somebody posts their business link. No real smart reason to do such a thing unless you want bad reviews….

  • https://twitter.com/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    If you delete your Yahoo listing for your business, do the the reviews go away too?

    • doomedby2020

      Not now, Yelp does not remove listings. They are part “yellow pages”, part review site. Even if you sue Yelp and win, like the Mcmillan Law group did, you’d still have a listing. And Yelp counter-sued this business…still a listing.

      Wallstreet is on Yelp……

  • Criostoir

    yelp is in the business of making money not repeat not the review business. they want you to react to the bad reviews by paying them for good ones.

  • DN

    We have a couple of nasty reviews on Yelp by competitors who have never been our customers. Yelp refuses to take them down or review them, and censors all our positive reviews…

  • AlCe

    The evil empire strikes again. These companies are IN business because of small local businesses, and yet they couldn’t give a whit about them – they’re only in it for the money. Case in point, one my clients has many positive 5-star reviews from REAL clients that have been removed by Yelp to the “unrecommended” list, and BOGUS 1-star reviews that are “recommended.” He provides his clients with amazing service and all it takes is one competitor posting a bad review and his whole reputation is forever besmirched.

    • http://www.hairkuts.com Guys& Dolls Hairkuts

      This is exactly what happens to us… I never realized how many clients stopped to take their valuable time and leave us a good review only to have yelp pull it the next day…I feel badly for my staff who worked so hard to earn that client’s respect yelp quashes it immediately…and and the phony 1-star review is a perpetual eyesore on my yelp listing. one phony reviewer went so far as to recommend a competitor and yelp lets it remain.

      • AlCe

        Exactly. Now when clients ask about leaving him a good review (happy clients actually WANT to give great recommendations), he now directs them to Facebook or Houzz (he’s an interior designer). Yelp and Yahoo are actually a perfect match. YY? Who uses Yahoo anymore? Seriously, perfect match.

        • doomedby2020

          I send all my clients to Houzz, they are great. Yelp can eat dirt.

          • Richard Sexton

            Amen to that. Houzz is much better for our business profile (home furnishings) and provides a balanced picture, vs our three bad reviews and fifteen filtered good reviews on Yelp.

    • doomedby2020

      Precisely what happened to me. 23 years building custom baths and kitchens. My one and only bad review from an irrational customer went to yelp. It nearly destroyed me. I have no employees, I am just one man with a big business facade. I don’t even advertise. But Yelp was influential enough to hurt me bad.
      Fortunately for me i have no reviews, had to bend over and ask the author to remove her bad review. Yelp hates me so I don’t bother having good reviews posted, only to be taken down by Yelp. Now I fear a non-client leaving a bad review. I don’t even tell people at social parties the name of my business, I am afraid when I used to be proud. I simply can’t afford a fake bad review….

      Yelp is attacking capitalism in a country founded upon capitalism.
      I can’t wait to see them crash….

  • I like Yahoo and am concerned

    Having Yelp partner with Yelp reminds me of who do I want my kinds to be friends with. Do I want them associated with those that have bad reputations or good ones. Well the answer is obvious. So, for all those that are not acquainted with Yelp, to include senior management and executives at Yahoo, I highly recommend that they go on line and read. Hint: it isn’t good!

  • Yelphtr

    Yahoo keeps calling me regarding marketing for my small business. I don’t know how much clearer I can make it when I say that I will not spend one single dime with a company that deleted all my positive reviews and replaced them with Yelp. I have no desire to ever do any further business with Yelp so why would I work with their partner.

  • PeteDashwood

    Never mind the rights and wrongs of what Yahoo and Yelp do, what gets me is WHY ANYONE who runs a business would entrust the comments on that business to a third party. I’m proud of what people say about our business (we have never had a dissatisfied customer and I make it my personal goal to ensure we never will). Sites like Yahoo and Yelp have no more credibility with client comments than if you posted comments from your customers that can be linked back to the people who made them. How hard is it, in this day and age to set up a web page specifically for customer feedback? I didn’t originally have a testimonials page because it seemed a bit like bragging, but, under pressure from clients, we added one to the site and it takes a lot of hits. If you have negative feedback, fix it. That’s why you’re in business. Don’t leave it to someone else to decide what people can say about your business.
    http://primacomputing.co.nz/primametro/testimonials.aspx

    • doomedby2020

      What are you talking about? You sound like a spam-bot. Einstein, if you have a business then you have a listing on Yelp. You cannot avoid it. And you cannot opt-out. You can’t avoid fake bad reviews from competitors, or from Yelp, or avoid Yelp taking down good reviews…which is why you’d want good reviews on Yelp in the first place (to bury fake bad reviews).

      • PeteDashwood

        I do have a business; as far as I know it isn’t listed on Yelp, and frankly, I don’t care. Your discourteous response is misplaced; I’m not the enemy. If your fuse is that short it may account for why you are concerned about Yelp. Provide an alternative to Yelp in the form of sustainable references to people who are not your friends and family and you can establish credibility, whatever Yelp says about you. I do take your point that it is not possible to opt out of Yelp.

        • doomedby2020

          Your posting suggests the business owner is to blame when Yelp becomes a problem. That’s why I am being brash.
          Additionally, providing an alternate to yelp isnt helpful considering how simple it is to write a fake review and publish it onto your website.
          People want honest reviews. Yelps entire business is based on the perception that their reviews can be trusted. They won’t even find you unless you appear near the top of your search list (not a problem for you, but that is besides the point), thus would never see your self-published reviews on your site..

          “what gets me is WHY ANYONE who runs a business would entrust the comments on that business to a third party.”

          • PeteDashwood

            Thanks for a more reasoned response.

            “Your posting suggests the business owner is to blame when Yelp becomes a problem.” I never intended that but I agree it can be interpreted that way. I don’t personally use Yahoo or Yelp and my point was supposed to be that if you don’t rely on third parties you may have a better interaction with your customers and prospects.

            Sadly, we are all so dependent on the Internet and social networking that it can get out of hand. I had forgotten that you can’t opt out of Yelp, as you pointed out.

            I guess it comes down to credibility. If Yelp is shown to have its own agenda and if the selection of posts there is unfair, it won’t be too long before their credibility is diminished. I struggle to understand why potential customers would go to Yelp rather than to your own site first, but I guess they feel it is independent.

            If you post true and fair comments from customers on your own site I think people will form their own conclusion of whether you are credible or not. How often do you go to a movie that has had really scathing criticisms, and find you thoroughly enjoyed it? (I went to Noah recently :-)). Most of us make our own decision about a product or service, based on what we experience with it, and that experience starts from when we first interact with the people providing it.

            I never wanted a testimonial page for our site and I was pressed to do it by others, but people do look at it and I believe it does no harm. There has to be SOME alternative to sites like Yelp.

          • doomedby2020

            Apologies, this is a hot topic for me. A very personal one.

            I agree, I’ve had a testimonial site running since ’07. Fully stocked with the real thing. I recently switched to Weebly and don’t have a testimonials page anymore. I will put the page up but a lot of my customers have stated that they, initially, were not sure if the reviews were legitimate..or they point out the obvious…I only asked customers who I knew would leave a good review.
            But no business can escape the rising trend of using review sites. I believe this is solely because of the smart phone/tablet/ etc. They do a quick search, find 5 contractors, then get some bids. They would never know to look me up unless they saw my advertisement…then they would look me up on the web for reviews. And if Yelp is hurting me then there goes my potential job….

          • PeteDashwood

            I really do see your point and it is quite frightening to think that sites like Yelp can destroy your business and you really have no “right of reply”. I can’t see an easy fix for this, but I do believe that if you keep striving to give outstanding service and value, people do notice it. They tell their friends and so on. Having a testimonial page just makes this public even if it isn’t “independent” as Yelp supposedly is. Mine is a “niche” business so I guess that kind of helps; more general businesses who are competing publicly are probably more vulnerable. Sorry if I touched a nerve; that wasn’t my intention, and good luck with your business!

  • doomedby2020

    Yelp is the top dog in the review business. They are exploiting current, antiquated laws dating back to the 90’s. Yes, Yelp is a cynical monster but there is nothing stopping Google from doing the same thing. Laws need to be changed.
    Clearly there is no “free speech” on yelp if they are removing legitimate reviews.
    I am anxiously awaiting regulations to stop this.
    I guess the consumer will eventually have to figure things out by reading positive comments-only and going out to have their OWN experiences…the way it should be.

  • Joe Shoeitz

    First of and foremost…all web ratngs and reviews can not and should not be trusted. Nor can sites like Yelp or Angies List also be trusted for good or bad reviews. You are relying on statementes from people that may not exsist. And mostly from people who you do not know or have never seen. People who own sites can be paid to either give bad or take away reviews and visa versa. Friends and relatives can add favorable reviews just because they are family / friends.

    Additionaly IP addresses can be the same as mentioned in the article. Also a person can use TOR Borwser to make reviews – TOR gives you an IP from around the world. A legit IP. To get a new IP just hit the change network id option and you get a new legit IP.

    Users are hidden behind fake user names. And don’t even count on Facebook to rely on sites like Disquss (like this site) who uses Facebook, Google and other websites accounts to verify a user. All can be and most are I would presume to be fake or at least not entirely accurate for identity purposes. Point in case…I am making this comment under a completely fake user name and email address that doesn’t exsist. My IP is doesn’t give my real location – no Disquss Im not in Colorado– because my ISP dishes out IPs from another state as to were I live. And I am not even using TOR today.

    Long story short….if you want a feel good warm and fuzzy review of a local business / contractor – ask around town. The web has been saturated with fakeness since its beginning. Web resarching for product use and or other types of research is awesome but for decision making when it comes to spending yur money. Try to get a real human – via a real email address that you can communicate with and not via a web site.

    Good luck….Let’s see how long this comment is up or wil Disquss take it down because I mentioned it is a non-exsistance user and email address.

  • warezwolf1

    Yelp spams like a scammer, shoe fits.
    never trust a data company that admittedly skews their data yet insists the data is accurate in the same sentence.

  • gemiinii

    Yahoo – still sucking, but at least our employees commute every day!

  • Tom

    I went from ~15 good reviews on Yahoo to 3 good reviews on Yelp. Since most good Yelp reviews never show up anyway (unless the reviewer is a hard-core Yelper) I guess it is just one more hit that I have to live with. I absolutely hate Yelp, their business model seems to be nothing more than extortion.

  • martinw392

    Thank God Google wont touch them

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    Why should yahoo prefer Yelp’s reviews to those customers leave in yahoo? Guess Yelp and Yahoo must have had some deals to ‘rub each others back’

  • Dave

    Yelp is an extortionist company. They are completely skewing the ratings and perceptions of restaurants and other venues and disguising themselves as impartial. I have a restaurant that has thrived for over 35 years in Hartford CT. Our reviews from “real customers” are regularly glowing and complimentary. Recent battles with Yelp over cancellation of our advertising in November 2013 resulted directly in the removal of close to 85% of our positive reviews. Yelp predominantly “recommended ” only the worst and damaging reviews. If a consumer wants to view the entirety of the reviews, they must find the tiny link at the bottom of the page which is titled “non recommended reviews”. who does that….no one. Our management has spent months and thousands of dollars on advertising, and social media attention to try to battle their deliberate propaganda. Their site should either include all reviews or shut down. I don’t want my restaurant even mentioned on their site. I am seeking legal counsel to accomplish just that. I have trademark rights. I don’t want my name or any assimilation of my restaurant viewed on their site. We business owners should be allowed to prohibit their inclusion. It is clearly damaging, and should be liable for civil damages. It is not a conspiracy. I have proof. I totaled all of the reviews including their recommened, and non recommended. Our average rating was 4.27 ( very good). Their recommended reviews resulted in less than 3.(poor) Our Yelp visitors has been reduced to less than 1% of those who viewed our restaurant on their site booked a reservation. It’s criminal. shame on BBB for supporting this extortion. We will be sure not to support BBB either.

  • Andre

    I’m Andre Kay, CEO/Founder of Sociallybuzz http://sociallybuzz.com/app. I see this all the time with small and large
    businesses having trouble with Yelp and Yahoo.

    Yahoo is very hard to deal with when it comes to communication. We’ve
    ran into a lot of trouble trying to communicate with Yahoo to fix simple
    local listings on their site. Imagine trying to fix something with a review. We had a client phone number listed on
    Yahoo that belongs to a person. So every time someone searched on yahoo for
    their business, they would call that person and that person would
    complain to the store. We emailed Yahoo over 20 times over a 6 month
    period before they changed that number to the new one. I think it also
    mentioned that if we had a premium account then we would get faster
    response, seriously?

    Businesses with
    negative reviews needs help with gaining positive reviews. Even when
    they make significant adjustments to their business, the negative review
    still haunts them. Even Yelp know that you will more likely to get a
    review from the 1% that had a bad experience, than a great review from
    the ones that enjoyed their time, it’s just human nature. On the other hand, businesses that receive lots of positive reviews,
    live by them.

    We’ve been working with brick and mortar
    businesses for over 5 years managing their social media and reputation.
    In the last 2 years I set out to create a social media and reputation
    app that we can put in the hands of every business owner to take back
    control of their reviews and reputation. Since Yelp is not going away
    anytime soon, the next best thing is to create a line of communication
    between the reviewer and the business. Now businesses can easily and
    quickly manage their social media and online reviews from sites like
    Yelp, Google Places and Urbanspoon – in one place, on one mobile dashboard. Check it here: http://sociallybuzz.com/app

    – Andre K

  • spileski

    I can believe Yelp isn’t extorting small businesses for advertising (at least not anymore).

    However the method in which they sort the filtered reviews really makes me question their overall motivation: http://www.montway.com/transportation/buyer-beware-yelps-sorting-reviews-misleads-readers/

    To me, there is no good explanation as to why they would sort the filtered reviews as they do unless it’s intended to harm businesses (even if that’s all businesses)

    I think they’d be better off either not showing filtered reviews to the public or sorting them by either most-recent or the same criteria they would use for the non-filtered reviews. Why sort worst-first?