Can Yelp Reviews Be Trusted?

By: Chris Crum - August 20, 2013

Yelp asks in a blog post, “What good are online reviews if you can’t trust their authenticity?”

That’s a really good question, and an important one that review sites have to grapple with as businesses and spammers constantly try to manipulate them. In some senses it’s not all that different than spammers manipulating search results, a problem that Google continues to battle. The fact of the matter is that consumers can never be 100% sure that what they’re seeing online is completely authentic. Even major websites and social media accounts are hacked on occasion. How do you know what you’re reading online is real?

Yelp, for its part, thinks it can assure users of the authenticity of its own reviews at least. Do you trust the reviews you read on Yelp? Let us know in the comments.

Yelp maintains that 85% of consumers rely on the Internet and review sites to find local businesses, and decide where to spend their money, and that 108 million people per month turned to Yelp last quarter. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of information about real businesses consumed. A lot of opinions shaped. A lot of decisions made about whether or not to ever set foot inside a business.

There are those out there who are paying people for fake reviews on Yelp, and Yelp knows this. This could be people paying for fake positive reviews for their own business, or it could be fake negative reviews of competitors’ businesses.

“We’ve always taken the quality of content on Yelp very seriously – our automatic review algorithm, user support team and flag system work overtime to monitor the content on our site,” says Yelp VP of Consumer & Mobile Products, Eric Singley. “We’ve gone to extensive measures to make sure that the consumers who come to Yelp can trust those reviews to reflect the real life experience they will have with that business.”

Singley began his stint at Yelp working on the company’s search and consumer products, and then managing and designing its mobile apps. He currently oversees the site and apps.

Back in October, Yelp launched its Consumer Alerts feature:

Yelp Consumer Alerts

These are warnings to users that appear when Yelp has found a business that has paid for reviews. Yelp removes the alert from the business’ page after 90 days, unless they find more efforts aimed at misleading users.

Yelp started the program off with nine businesses it had already busted. It has now launched a new round of alerts.

“We’ve seen some pretty extreme chicanery in connection with these businesses, including people buying fake reviews, offering rewards or discounts for reviews or having a large number of reviews submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address (a clue that someone may be trying to artificially inflate their rating),” says Singley.

He notes that is kind of activity is illegal, and points to FTC guidelines.

“There will always be fraudsters out there who try to game the system, but we’re doing our best to not let that ruin the value so many millions of people get from Yelp – the trust that allows 4 out of 5 Yelp users to feel confident when consulting our site before spending money at a local business,” says Singley. “In the end, it’s up to consumers to choose a business that fits their needs, but the Consumer Alerts program is our attempt to inform them of suspicious behavior we have clearly identified.”

So, is the attempt working? Does it make consumers trust Yelp reviews more? Some (including businesses) out there don’t trust Yelp itself. It seems the company’s service is frequently the subject of various lawsuits (often defamation), and businesses have even accused Yelp itself of extortion, claiming that it buries reviews with its filter in an attempt to get businesses to advertise on Yelp. Yelp, of course, strongly denies that this is the case. Regardless of whether or not it’s true, you have to think these claims have made an impact on Yelp’s reputation.

Yelp has been making moves to cater more to businesses, and looks to be moving more into a direct ecommerce direction, with features like Call to Action and Transactions. Yelp also just acquired SeatMe for online reservsations, and recently started matching users’ photos with their reviews, which means more imagery for business pages.

Whether or not Yelp is doing a good job at eliminating fake reviews is surely debatable, but you can’t deny that they’re taking the issue seriously. In June, it was reported that Yelp had filed a lawsuit against a site that sells Yelp reviews. Interestingly, that site ( now redirects to an article called, “Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0“. It’s six pages long.

Yelp released its earnings report a couple weeks ago. It posted a 69% increase in revenue (year over year), and announced that its cumulative reviews were up 41% at over 42.5 million. Quite a few reviews. The company did not indicate whether this number included fake reviews in its announcement. Average monthly unique visitors were up 38%, and active local business accounts grew 62% to about 51,400.

Fake reviews are not good for anyone other than those who are paying for them. They’re not good for consumers, and they’re not good for honest businesses who fall victim to shady competitors. While Yelp’s numbers are looking pretty good, they’re not good for Yelp either, and isn’t it in the company’s best interest to make sure they aren’t permeating its site, making people lose trust? If people stop trusting Yelp, they’re going to stop using it.

The question is: Is Yelp doing a good job of containing the issue of fake reviews and maintaining user and business trust? Can you, as a business or as a consumer, trust what you read on Yelp? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Chris Crum

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
  • M. Williamson

    Yelp is a for profit company this has nothing to do with free speech, it is free speech manipulation, businesses should be given the freedom to take themselves off some one else’s for profit listing, why do we as business owners need to sacrifice our good will so another business can make money off our good name? they should be paying us royalties just like the record industry if we give them permission to use our businesses to help their business make money, why do we need to be the sheep that are sacrificed so another can profit from harming our good will and our hard work? Do Not ever give up the fight on this issue! NEVER!! The laws must change!!

  • Justine

    I am not a huge fan of YELP. I have had too many clients who have legit ratings which are then filtered. In some cases, ALL the positive reviews are filtered leaving 1 or 2 negative ratings which leave the reader to believe that the businesses have awful reviews. Not fair at all!

  • Zuriel

    I heard they extort money from businesses if they have positive feedback. IE: ‘If you want us to keep your positive review available to the public, send us $500.’ Therefore, I personally do not use yelp and would suggest you boycott them as well.

  • polesawguy

    yelp sucks, plain and simple

  • Pat Yevics

    I read reviews and look at the overall reviews. I do not believe any of them on an individual basis but take an average. I use Yelp less for reviews and more just as a search engine.

  • JDavis

    My business was victim of a fake review posted by someone who was angry at on of our owner for purely personal reasons. That is a whole other aspect of this problem.

    • JDavis

      Then to make matters worse that review was coming up #4 when you type in our business name on Google

  • JG

    The process is entirely hit and miss.

    The nature of these social media referring sites is such that unless they can match booking reference or receipt bill numbers to clients, they are open to fraud and manipulation.

    I’ve had may many positive reviews from regular customers not appear, and some from individuals who I can be sure have not visited my business.

    Of course, once you open up your booking system to those data hungry reference sites, you also expose your customers to their relentless marketing interests.

  • C.Johnson

    In my experience, if you are a business that spends money on Yelp, I have found that negative comments can get hidden and even removed. Example: I had a horrible experience with a company listed on Yelp, the comment was removed and I was removed as well. The company had made the statement to me that they had a special “relationship” with Yelp and knew that they could squelch negative comments.

    • steve lowen

      I AM surprised at this seemingly naive question. Yelp has become infamous for ‘coloring’ the
      published responses to fit their cooperative stance with a specific business. For example, I established a comment about my (lemon) Mini-Cooper, and the completely unresponsive dealer here in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was not published, even as I sent it in to Yelp in four differing versions-this last to determine ‘style acceptance.’
      Yelp is like the Better Business Bureau…great, at pandering to their clients, the affected businesses.

  • Michelle Walters

    I know for a fact that Yelp reviews are artificially suppressed based on questionable reasons. My mother, a wedding photographer, got ten reviews from brides who were delighted with her. Yelp suppressed all but two of them, saying they were all written in a single month and therefore were unlikely to be legitimate. Then they offered to let HER PAY YELP in order to have them un-suppressed. I am SO unimpressed with this company’s gray morality… pretending to only allow legitimate reviews and then essentially black-mailing companies to pay in order to not suppress positive reviews. She refused to pay them, and the reviews are still suppressed unless you click the little pale link that says “Show suppressed reviews” at the bottom of her Yelp page. Absurd.

    • Yelp Class Action

      We are a law firm that is suing Yelp representing all those hereto fore unpaid. Does your Mom know any Yelp reviewers who would like to be one of the first plaintiffs. We’re asking the judge for $100- to $200 a review. We need someone who has been writing a lot of Yelp reviews for many years.
      info AT yelpclassaction DOT info

  • Tim

    Yelp is the biggest scam going on the internet today. They say they’re for the people, but rely on businesses for their revenue. It’s impossible to do that. If they were really for the people, they would be a non profit. They are today’s version of a mafia. Extorting businesses for “protection” from online reviews. The best thing to do as a business owner is to totally ignore yelp. They call us every month asking for us to advertise, we just hang up on them. Just another annoying telemarketer asking for money.

  • Ken Fry

    YELP… that is the sound of another business owner needing to pay the advertising fee to see negative reviews disappear and the positive ones show….that is the True YELP algorithm. The company practices extortion as business owners YELP to escape the commission paid telemarketers armed with reputation terrorization methodology to gain sales.

  • Tom

    No. Yelp is the realm of marketing company’s and unscrupulous ones at that.

    A few years ago a marketing company did not get a client and the president proceeded to leave a nasty review on yelp. Oddly true story.

    There will always be gaming of the system.

    I don’t use yelp for that reason.

  • Alex

    I’ve been working with computers and on the internet since before most “internet experts” were born. Anyone who thinks there is any connection between what is online, in the media, of the public opinion, or written in feeble laws and the real, actual, tangible world is quite naive. “Trust”, “privacy”, “honest politicians, lawyers, judges, etc” are only illusions. Stop trying to “authenticate” anything online in any medium – internet, television, etc. Pick and choose whatever suits your fancy about what to believe about reviews, and be content. Even if a real person wrote a review about an actual situation, does not imply any level of sanity or honesty of the author, nor of their interpretation of the experience. The ONLY way you “know” anything is to just try it yourself. A perfectly run review site will still never guarantee you a life void all the pitfalls or filled with all the wonderful surprises you will gain from personal, tangible encounters with the real world.

  • Marc T.

    I was looking at a user’s review and found these interesting tidbits:

    In her top review of Law Office of Theresa N, this Yelper, Lucy G states that she took 2 bribes to remove negative reviews and then posted a 5-star review.

    a). “She is the one who offered to help review them for free. Why? Because she wanted me to remove my negative review, which I did (and even changed it to a 5-star glowing review). Lucy G” Then she changed it back to negative.

    b). “I had no intentions of coming back to redo my review yet again, but recently got burned with another business that also “BRIBED ME” into removing my negative review.”

    In looking at Lucy G’s profile it appears that she also reviews businesses that she never visited. See owner comments.

    So what reviews of Lucy G do you believe, the negative reviews or the positive reviews? This is why people do not trust Yelp.

    • jame

      I read all of her reviews. I believe she has clearly violated Yelp’s terms of service. Unfortunately with Yelp however it just doesn’t matter. It would be nice if they would drop the “useful” or “funny” buttons or at least let people also vote “sketchy” or “get a life”. There are too many people like this on Yelp who try to extort businesses and power trip hiding behind the platform Yelp provides them. Again, Yelp is only too happy to accept their reviews because the drama gives the illusion of being real content, and that helps Yelp to attract more investor money. All affected businesses should post their experiences on all business, investment and stock related articles regarding Yelp so that investors realize the volatility of the company they are considering. Yelp is a bubble, with tons of speculation and not a lot of time for the real picture to have emerged as to how they will ever be profitable or even credible for that matter. Set up a news alert for “yelp” and comment every time a new article comes out. You should also file a complaint with the FTC and the better business bureau.

  • BP

    Yelp is not a reliable review site. It allows any one to write a review about anything without actual experience or use of the services, based on hear say or rage.
    I would not trust a bit. Trip advisor is better for travel review, Google is the most trusted.

  • Fake Name Because I Don’t Trust Yelp

    I had a situation where I was able to prove a Yelper who left me a negative review WORKS for my competition. When I contacted Yelp about this, they attempted to SELL me a solution. I showed them where in their Terms of Service it explains that a Yelper can not comment on their competition. They told me to prove it. I did. I gave them the person title and office line. I also gave them their supervisors name and phone. After several days, they got back with me and said I would have to settle it in court.

    It gets worse.

    Over the 6 months this was going on. I also discovered this Yelper previously worked for a company that SELLS SERVICES that improve your YELP rankings and makes claims they have SPECIAL relationships with companies LIKE Yelp. This means she was an experienced YELPER. She had more than 150 reviews. Her previous employer’s website even explained that they could get negative reviews removed or hidden. When I reported this situation to YELP, they ignored it.

    So, I did call my lawyer. After 6 months of this going on, our business took a HUGE hit because her 1 horrific review. By the way, she was NEVER OUR CUSTOMER. Plus, her review sat at the TOP of our 20 reviews. In the end, I had to beg her to remove the review. The story gets even worse. This woman targeted me on every blog in the area because I was attempting to get her to remove the review. Here is the thing…this entire episode turned into something that wasn’t about my business, but about her NEGATIVE REVIEW and my freedom to request that someone who wasn’t a customer of our should NOT be able to give our review a business. Plus, it became about whether or not her business was a specific competitor of my business. If I told you who she worked for and who I worked for you would laugh it’s so clear. Her claim was her department at her company wasn’t involved in the same things our business was involved in.

    I don’t want to explain anything else about this situation because I truly believe Yelp targets businesses with ALLOWING negative behavior from our competitors AND they PROFIT from it. If anyone is building a lawsuit, please contact me. This is a horrible company that has nothing to do with FREEDOM OF SPEECH. They are extortionists plain and simple. They are the Internet MAFIA. God help us all.

  • Ray Baldwin

    My experience with yelp is mixed; personally I use it to find businesses and restaurants and the results have been great. For my own website, we’ve had 11 positive (5-star) reviews pulled by Yelp! and no negatives pulled. Do I trust them? No. I’ll assume they do the same to other businesses and I’ll take what comes out with a grain of salt.

  • Basit

    Yes there review are trusted. I we are agree with M.Williamson

  • Cliff

    Yelp isn’t a really good source for review. I’ve worked for a ghost writing company and some has requested reviews for yelp. I’m assuming that they are using thingslike ip changer to avoid getting caught by yelp. Generally, I wouldn’t say Yelp is a reliable source.

  • Rick Anderson

    Yelp is an extortionist company. They put up two bad reviews (two bad reviews from same family…which is not supposed to happen) and when I my customers put up approx 10 good reviews over the next year they were all filtered out. When I asked them (Yelp) why they would do that they told me that the customer who gave me the bad review told them that I was paying customers to write good reviews so they got filtered.


  • Phanna

    The reviews cannot be trusted especially reviews for restaurants. You get these so called “foodies” who feels empowered as a food critic going off ranting on things the restaurant has no real control over. I see a lot of people giving 1 star less because they had issues with parking or that the restaurant is too busy or loud; nothing to do with the food or service. Things they should have known and expect beforehand. Worst, there is no categorical rating like Zagat. Everything is lumped into one rating. So from that standpoint alone, Yelp reviews cannot be trusted. Unfortunately, some of these unfair reviewers are unwittingly ruining good businesses.

  • Stacey Inner

    Yelp does try and strong arm businesses by giving perks and advantages to the ones that advertise. There is a competitive business that Yelp lets list multiple instances of their business without filtering. Once a few bad reviews pop up the business changes the address from 301 to 303 and adds a second business number they have. In the title they also add an s on the name or alter it slightly. We physically spoke to a Yelp advertising rep and went through the 4 listings that were the same business and showed him how they all sold the same thing in the same area under the same name. He called us back to continue to try and get us to advertise but we said unless policing of their system is done we would not advertise. In the end he said he was told that the other business advertises through one of the listings with Yelp and they would not touch the listings. He tried to pawn it off that the Business name was not exactly the same and they all had different phone numbers. That’s how to spam Yelp.

  • daniel

    Why does Yelp filter all positive reviews, These are real clients and yelp unfairly judges my services. See 21 filtered positive reviews. only two negative reviews

    • Marc T.

      Yelp will often penalize first time reviewers. Why? Because they are most likely to be fake. Your filtered reviews all come from people with one or two reviews and the removed ones were posted all within two days.

  • robin koloms

    We have 19 of 27 reviews filtered out of our Yelp page. All but one are 5-star reviews. Every time we refuse to buy advertising from yelp, one or two more reviews get filtered out.

  • Mike

    It is so obvious how many fake reviews are on Yelp. All one has to do is read the content and it is very apparent that many, many of the reviews are totally contrived. If you analyze comments made by many firms with lots of 5 star reviews it’s obvious the same author is writing the material under different pen names. It’s amazing how the websites with tons of great reviews just happen to have thousands of likes and plus ones and the competitor of equal size has nobody writing reviews…of course the web guru’s would argue that firm A is just doing quality web management. There are so many ways to manipulate their supposed “magical” algorithm that decides what gets posted and what doesn’t get posted when one follows appropriate protocol. The unfortunate part is there is no “common sense” element and in general many consumers are uninformed and therefore put faith in reviews/comments. I did a test with call tracking lines for one of my clients on Yelp and the sales person outright lied with regard to several of Yelp’s policies. The ads did not perform at all and what Yelp calls a lead is merely an action. I think Yelp will ultimately fail as consumers become more aware and realize how much total garbage in on the web when it comes to “5 star reviews”. As to Yelp, in my opinion it’s a boiler room sales organization and nothing more. What is really hurting consumers is Google’s algorithm being in love with Yelp, BBB and other “ratings” sites and not really providing a consumer with “rich, authoritative content” from originating firms sites. Too much weight on PR and not enough on aforementioned.

  • Chris Calkins

    Yelp is a joke

  • Jim Daniels

    Based on comments by Michelle Walters and others above, as well as reading numerous article on the web that show PROOF that Yelp suppresses negative reviews when clients pay them, I have deleted my Yelp app. I refuse to support companies with a track record of hurting small businesses to prop up their own.

  • Mike A.

    I have seen Yelp withhold perfectly valid and positive reviews for no apparent reason. Filtered for what cause? Only yelp knows for sure and only yelp benefits. I never use it and don’t trust it.

  • Henk

    Can the website be trusted ,there are many reviews on this site which have the same spelling mistakes ,in the camper section some of the oldest campers on market have highest reviews , it seems who pays the highest money gets the highest review

  • Scott

    I too have heard stories from numerous business owners that watch some or all of their positive reviews filtered out, and the marginal and negative ones stay.

    When it was 1 or 2 owners I thought they were being paranoid. However, I now hear this story more and more often which is making me start to wonder.

    Would love to hear from more people on this.

  • jame

    I ignored the advertising calls and ALL of my reviews fell into the filter. Yelp likes to say its just their filter, but its a scam. They filter all of my legitimate reviews. Add to that the “elite” program aimed squarely at generating content (which equals investment dollars) and all of Yelps content is questionable. You see many one star reviews because reviewers think businesses should keep different hours, etc. Often they violate the terms of service, but those reviews stay up, while legit reviews are filtered. Overall this skews the overall rating and harms many small businesses. Support ANY and ALL other platforms (google, angies list, foursquare) until Yelp starts to handle the power they already have with more fairness and responsibility.

    • John Echlin

      I agree 100%. I have witnessed first hand how my positive reviews for a service are filtered. I have been Yelping now for 2 years and my positive reviews are still filtered, but my 2 negative ones went through right away.

  • Joe

    I don’t know about Yelp, but am pretty sure the gushing 5 star love-fest is fueled by payola on some Amazon sites with hundreds of unnatural-looking ecstatic reviews for mundane products.

  • Toby Barnett

    Nope. Yelp reviews carry little with with me personally as many are just noise from irritated or over joyful reviewers. Why trust someone else if it is really easy to try it for yourself? Especially when its a restaurant or something of little dollar value. When it comes to higher dollar items, truck part for me, I read a lot when it comes to brand advertising, specs, application, infer how that translates to my specific application, and take a grain of salt with reviews. Many preferences and tastes are different.

  • Tom Nguyen

    Yelp’s reviews are best for restaurants and maybe hair stylists. Anything else, I don’t really trust them for. I witnessed by going to someone outside of those categories. The provider had a ton of favorable reviews, but they had to have been solicited.

  • Jim

    I would never list my business on Yelp. Why subjugate yourself to be extorted by Yelp? And furthermore, although I fully support free speech, I have found more people contact a business and review a business when they are upset (sometimes over matters not able to be controlled by the business) than when they have something positive to say.

    • Fake Name Because I Don’t Trust Yelp

      other people list your business on Yelp. You don’t have a choice.

  • Kevin

    As repeated many times above Yelp sucks and they have a crappy attitude too.
    Dont ever recall ever checking the reviews before going somewhere.

  • John Echlin

    I do believe that the majority of reviews are legitimate. However, one of the filters that Yelp uses, block reviews from new Yelpers. Also, there are no filters in place to limit negative reviews from habitual complainers.

  • Mike S. Spearman DC

    I had no reviews on Yelp at all. I got a bad review. I asked one friend who used yelp who I had created a miracle on to post his review on Yelp. They would not post it. I asked a lady with excellent results to post. She got a review posted under my name but not under my business name. I am up in the air as to whether I trust them or not. Time will tell.

  • MikeQ

    Read the article linked below for a real-life case study of a Yelp! review … first the review itself, and then the facts.

  • Cindy

    Yelp NOR ANY Review is entirely honest nor safe for any business. I’ve had many positive reviews & then some deceiving nut case will come along & slam a person or our business all the while smiling & thanking you while they are there & even tip & promise to return.These skitzi ” reviewers” are obviously type A personalities that seem to find delight in giving a negative review. Most viewers can see through them though. Especially loyal clients that cannot imagine our business as the bad reviewer has described. Businesses need a site to fight back against the true idiots out to slam a good businees that is obviously successful throughout the years DESPITE the self fulfilling hateful negative reviews that a FEW people try to perpetuate negativity without ever contacting a business with their “gripes”. Luckily, after being in business with good morals ^ values & desire to serve the public we can honestly say we will be fine with or without any “: reviews”. KARMA RULES!!! :)~~~

  • Victor L

    Here is a business that says it spams Yelp all the time and gives examples of a business selling the same thing in the same local area, all they did was change the spelling of the name to create the fake listings. I see on one of them that they advertise with Yelp because of the slide show and deal. This is solid proof that Yelp takes no action on businesses that spam its results as long as they are paying customers! Shame on you YELP!



  • Sava

    I think the internet not always is real it is a virtual environment of commonunication.

  • Hungarian Property

    I had a similar conversation about trustworthy content on the internet the other day. If you think about Yelp you need to keep in mind that it is community driven content and reviews are opinion based so fully subjective.
    My friend was debating about Wikipedia content as well. After all the content there is coming from internet users just like you or me.
    Who says their knowledge/research is true to reality. Hard to evaluate what information can be trusted nowadays…

  • sam ahmed

    I do not trust some of yelp reviews. When customer post a review of a restaurant or complaint without giving a chance to restaurant to correct the problem on the spot and than write a negative review is not fair to restaurants. Restaurants should be given the oppurtunity to correct the problem.

    Restaurant owner

  • Jason

    It’s a similar situation to Amazon and their reviews. People are using them to help their ranking and increase sales. I look at from the perspective of getting a bid for work. Throw out the 5 stars and 1 stars and then use the middle reviews to find accurate information on the product or service you’re looking to purchase.

  • Robert Marcos

    I’m a wedding photographer. Last year I sent emails to a dozen of my previous clients and asked them to submit reviews to Yelp. Four of my clients did write reviews, and do you know what? Yelp deleted all four! So I don’t know what their criterium is, but in my case four actual customer reviews – not compensated in any way, were deleted, and I wound up with no reviews at all, positive or negative.

  • John Phelps

    When looking at Yelp (or any other reviews) I look at the spread of ratings, the dates of the ratings, the writing, and the number of reviews.

    If the dates are clustered together, and they are all high ratings, then I write the reviews off as part of a reputation management campaign, especially if there are only a few reviews and the writing is similar.

    If there are a lot of ratings, over a period of a year or more, and there is a spread of ratings, then I am more inclined to trust the rating. I read the reviews (or as many as I have time for) and judge from that if I want to patronize the business.

    Of course, good ratings do not mean I will have a good experience at a business. I was in Annapolis, and I was looking for a coffeehouse. I found one in the harbor area, City Dock Coffee, which looked really good. I went there, and I was disappointed with their tea selection, just supermarket bag tea. So I asked if they had a better tea selction, and the guy behind the register said “This is a COFFEEhouse” in a very rude and snide manner. Well, I walked out. No decent coffeehouse has cheap tea. While I could have dealt with the tea, I could not deal with both the tea and a rude, arrogant attitude. So, ratings are reflective of individual experiences. Remember, too, that someone has to take the time and trouble to do the rating. To do that you generally either have to have a really good or a really bad experience.

  • George Comer

    I am not so sure I trust Yelp’s reviews. I did one recently on a car dealer from which I had bought a car. The review was both very complimentary of the Internet Sales person (I used no names) but also not complimentary of the Sales Manager due to his price change shenanigans. Over a good but balanced review, certainly not one of those “rah, rah best ever” types. Yet Yelp hid it within a day because their algorithms suggest it could be fake?! When I found it in the filtered reviews there were many very balanced reviews unlike those not filtered. It made me REALLY wonder if Yelp is charging businesses to filter out certain reviews.

  • George Comer

    I am not so sure I trust Yelp’s reviews. I did one recently on a car dealer from which I had bought a car. The review was both very complimentary of the Internet Sales person (I used no names) but also not complimentary of the Sales Manager due to his price change shenanigans. Over a good but balanced review, certainly not one of those “rah, rah best ever” types. Yet Yelp hid it within a day because their algorithms suggest it could be fake?! When I found it in the filtered reviews there were many very balanced reviews unlike those not filtered. It made me REALLY wonder if Yelp is charging businesses to filter out certain reviews.

    • Salete

      Glad you got filtered. Reviews are so subjective. How is it possible that manager gets a good review from one and bad for you because what you perceive as Price shennagins. You sure it wasn’t you trying to mooch Evey penny off the table while the sales guys making 150.00 and dealer probably 0. Mooch. unless it was used, Then they probably ripped your head off. Lol

  • Ally Lennon

    I would say not. Look its a fact that the vast majority of reviews posted online are negative. The internet troll phenomenon has been widely documented but remains a scourge on society.
    A big percentage of trolls are on a major revenge kick for their own twisted reasons- usually due to fundamental bitterness in general.
    So make something up, post it online about somebody you think slighted you, and hey presto “revenge”.
    Or hire someone to create fake reviews of your competitors and hey presto more business for you (as you are the ‘good guy’).
    Sometimes yes people will post positive reviews online- same deal- might be your employees etc.
    But one must question the motives of a yelper- what’s your angle?

    • Tom

      Glad to see that there’s a thinking human out there… good for you, I agree.

  • Mark Thompson

    This question about the reliability of YELP reviews is ironic in the sense that I just viewed The People’s Court where the subject came up in a testimony. The defendant claims that YELP contacted him to solicit an advertising subscription. He complained that there were several negative reviews posted on his YELP Page but he doesn’t have any record of the people ever being customers. YELP said that if he would purchase an ad, they would remove the negative reviews. We should all know we can’t fully trust the Internet, can we trust The People’s Court?

  • Laurence Rosenberg

    Yelp is full of crap. They are constantly filtering legitimate positive reviews from proven, paying customers of my business. And they are constantly posting negative reviews as legitimate.

    It seems that only ‘trusted’ reviewers get their reviews posted. But to be trusted simply means that you submit many reviews and you’ve built a bit of a following. So kids and young adults who spend their lives online are ‘trusted’, whether they know anything about the product/service reviewed or not. Working adults, with real lives and real responsibilities don’t have the time, inclination or interest in building followings. So their reviews, in spite of their life experiences and knowledge, are not trusted.

    Isn’t something wrong with the premise of who is trusted and who isn’t?

  • D.R.

    First and foremost, I had “elite yelpers’ write bad reviews and then send me emails asking for MONEY. I sent these extotion attempts to YELP and they were simply ignored.

    I asked yelp to reivew a “review” that was just a racist rank against the race of people I had in class, again, I was ignored by YELP

    The final reality, which many businesses report, is that I had nothingn by good reviews until I declined advertising, the bad ones appeared, including the yelp “elite” who were trying to extort money, and many good reviews were “filtered”

  • Billy

    With yelp, I usually try to look for a relatively high number of reviews. If there are more than say 20 reviews then, I feel good about the legitimacy of the reviews. Now, I also check to make sure the reviews have some content with solid grammar. Lastly, they should have different tones and should be evident that they were written by different people.

    I think back before yelp and we just had to take a chance with a new place. :) thanks!

  • jon

    Of course reviews cannot be trusted in general.

    SEO practises black and white will be the norm for review sites like yelp – the only guarantee of truthfulness is lack of intersest, in otherwords a small quiet business that chugs along at a modest level may never invest in false reviews but from hungry business, people trying to push their business you should expect no better than their SEO practices and remmber that black SEO is contained to some extent by Google whereas there is no webmaster to penalise for false reviews all you can hope to do is screen out the false reviews and hope the rest is reasonable.

    The more review sites including hotel booking sites become important the more tempting it will be to set up sweat shops of paid reviewers at your service.



  • Jay DeDapper

    There’s no way Yelp can solve for this problem because every technological “fix” can and will be overcome. The only way to trust reviews is to force reviewers to show themselves — seeing is believing. Video is the easiest and most powerful way to do this. If you don’t believe it look at this YouTube video:

  • Alex Jonasson

    3 years on yelp, 2 Negative reviews displayed, 10 Positive reviews filtered. $3M/yr small service business. Yelp sales staff solicited offering help for monthly fee. 4 and 5 star reviews on, FB, and all other review sites. I HATE YELP!!!

  • Tom

    The real problem that seems to be missed here is that anyone posing as a customer can post slanderous comments, resulting in real slander.
    Amazon does not let you post a comment unless you were a real customer.
    What greatly takes away from this form of “Rating” and is not addressed by YELP is that anyone can make a damaging post, wether they were a real customer or not. and the post need not be substantiated, it is taken as fact, even if it is a pack of lies.
    YELP seems to be more skeptical of positive posts than negative, because the negative posts do more for YELP’s business.

  • http://Yelp michaela w

    I initially thought Yelp might be an authentic review site but after trying repeatedly to post a very authentic review of my actual experience with a business(a verifiable purchase) that I believe will help many other consumers from making the same mistake without any success with posting on the site, I have come to really doubt yelp.I was surprised it would not post. I emailed them to trouble shoot and they told me that computer software chooses or rejects all reviews and humans who work at yelp cannot override the computer. I even tried submitting a more condensed and generic version of my review and yelp still will not post it and further, they give no explanation as to why your review doesn’t post. It just doesn’t post and then they say they have no control over what posts. REALLY? I am skeptical of yelp now. Do they just want to sell your info or is it a legitimate review site? I am now sure that many other good helpful reviews were never posted as well. Therefore I am not sure how accurate or useful the site really is sadly.

  • AMac

    I have gotten dozens of calls from yelp trying to get me to pay for a premium listing. Being a building contractor I checked out the competition. A large percentage of the contractors on yelp do not have workmans compensation insurance. They claim to the lic board that they don’t have any employees yet their reviews on yelp mention their workers. I pay between 23 and 40% for workmans comp on my employees Labor rate. I also carry general liability insurance. They claim that they are fully insured. What they mean is that they have a state mandated bond which covers up to $15k. It is such a low amount that the CSLB recently made it illegal to advertise that you are insured/bonded if you only have the minimum bond. The CSLB recommends that contractors carry $1M policies

    I cannot compete with the people that do not carry the proper insurance. 99% of my work is in San Francisco but I live just outside the city. Yelp won’t list me in sf because of that. I have also had a lot of my reviews disappear. It takes a few minutes to verify insurance, years in business, etc and I think that if yelp are promoting these businesses they have a duty to verify the claims that these people make.

    If a worker gets hurt on the job and the contractor is uninsured the homeowner is exposed to the liability.
    Buyer beware on yelp especially if you are spending a lot of money and letting them in your house

    Check It will let you know if they are licensed, how long in business, any complaints and most importantly whether their workers are insured!!!

  • Giraffe2468