Yelp Gets Blasted By Business Owners And Celebrity

By: Chris Crum - March 11, 2014

Yelp is taking some harsh criticism in the media once again. Its handling of fake reviews is coming under fire, as is its worth to consumers. Business owners are speaking out (as usual), and celebrity chef/TV personality/food writer Andrew Zimmern, who has been critical of Yelp in the past, is calling it “worthless”.

Do you agree with Zimmern or does Yelp have significant value to consumers and businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Yelp recently announced that it had handed out a new round of consumer alerts – warnings that appear on business pages – calling out businesses for alleged foul Yelp review play. It also renewed alerts on some businesses that had previously received them.

“We normally remove alerts after 90 days, but we won’t hesitate to renew them if we continue to see suspicious activity,” said Yelp’s Kristen Whisenand on the company blog. “That’s exactly what happened for two businesses this time around. We again found something amiss with two of the locations for Chicago-based nail salon, Azure Nails. And someone was caught red-handed yet again trying to buy reviews for Evergreen.”

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Chicago’s ABC 7 spoke with Azure’s owner Hoang Bui as well as with a Yelp spokesperson, who said Yelp found a “large number of positive reviews” coming from the same IP address, which it considered “a sign of someone trying to game the system and mislead consumers”. The news outlet reports:

When asked if he or his employees were writing reviews, Bui said “No. We have Wi-Fi here, and I asked my clients to write reviews right here in my business, and my clients use Wi-Fi here.”

But Yelp says it has additional evidence, including a negative review of a rival salon, from that same IP address.

Bui has his own allegations. He said he believes Yelp has made negative reviews more visible because he refused to pay for advertising.

We’ve definitely heard that one before.

In fact, the subject came up yet again in a report last week from WTOC in Savannah.

Cathi Denham, the owner of doggie day care and luxury pet hotel Catnip n Biscuits said, “Customers leave reviews when they’re mad at us for something we wouldn’t do their way, and they’re negative reviews. We have some really good reviews on Yelp also, but you’ll never see those because they’re hidden in the filter button to filter out the good ones. It’s just wrong….it will say Yelp doesn’t recommend these reviews, but that’s where all our good reviews are. There’s no good reviews on the front page.”

She said that her rating dropped, and that is when Yelp began soliciting her to advertise.

“They don’t say it, but I know people that do advertise with Yelp that their negative reviews then disappear, and only the positive reviews show up,” she said.

Yeah, we’ve heard this story over and over again. Yelp denies that this happens, and calls such accusations “conspiracy theories” and the result of the Woozle effect. Yet the accusations keep coming from business owner after business owner.

Zimmern didn’t really get into any of that specifically, but says he finds Yelp and products like it to be “increasingly worthless” as a consumer. He was critical of Yelp’s ability to maintain legitimate content.

He told Eater, “Do I think that there’s some sort of satanic conspiracy going on over there or some covert plan to compensate people? No, I don’t. Do I think that there are some people who have taken a rogue position and easily tried to stretch boundaries and stuff? Yes, I do. That’s what happens with organizations that are horizontal and not vertical. In today’s world, especially the digital world, especially with a product like Yelp, the organization is horizontal and not vertical. There are always people trying to take advantage of stuff like this, so I imagine, sure, I don’t think Yelp can do a lot about how people interact with this forum.”

“It is their responsibility, and policing it is just a hard job,” he added. “That’s why I’m not giving them a pass. They’re probably scrambling to figure this shit out as much as anyone. I will tell you flat out that I continually find Yelp and products like it to be increasingly worthless to me as a consumer. That’s really where I feel strongest about it.”

He said later in the interview, “The last thing I want to do is utilize a service where millions of people are chiming in, and the results are tainted. Either it’s people who don’t know what they’re talking about shouting over the people who do … Look. There’s lots of people on Yelp whose opinions I would love to have, but you know what, I can’t use on Yelp, because Yelp to me is worthless.”

On Yelp’s effects on businesses, he told Eater, “Yelp, in a very perverse way, I may not like them or recommend them, but they have hit a core amongst viewers and they can move the needle. A good review in the New York Times used to be worth two million dollars. A good review on Yelp, they’ve put some sort of number attached to that. God bless them. It helps them sell ads, I’m sure. I think it’s a defective mechanism. It’s very, very popular. There’s tens of millions of people on that site.”

Either way, Yelp is encouraging people to leave a lot more reviews, and to say more in the reviews they do leave.

Fast Company interviewed Yelp Consumer and Mobile Products Vice President Eric Singley, who said the company has “always emphasized quality over quantity.”

But at the end of the year, Yelp sang the praises of its user who had written the most reviews during 2013. He wrote 1,712, which is roughly five a day. At that point, he had written about 7,000 of the site’s 47 million reviews.

Last year, Yelp finally made it so that users of its mobile apps can leave reviews, which has greatly contributed to quantity. Yelp released its Q4 and full year 2013 financials last month, and revealed that during the quarter, it had approximately 53 million mobile unique visitors and 30% of new reviews were contributed through mobile devices.

Yelp is actively encouraging higher quality with these reviews, however. Or at least higher word count. Singley pointed out to Fast Company for those who try to leave really short reviews, the app tells them, “This review is shorter than most.” They consider this “a nudge in the right direction.”

Do you think Yelp is doing a good job of maintaining quality content throughout its site? Are businesses being treated fairly? Is the Yelp experience valuable to consumers? Tell us what you think.

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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
  • http://DCincome.com/blog Matthew Loop

    Yelp cares about profits more than the average small business owner. That is irrefutable and evidenced by their unethical actions. It’s 2014 and with the technology we have, there is no excuse for Yelp to filter a legitimate positive review.

    Yet, this has happened to virtually EVERY business owner I’ve worked with.

    Yelp does not filter negative reviews… at all. It doesn’t serve them to do so. I’ve worked with a few thousand small business owners and less than 10% are happy with Yelp.

    The major complaint I get is that a businesses positive reviews appear for a day or two… then POOF. Filtered. “Coincidentally,” a sales rep will call and try to upsell this business owner into the paid listings.

    Yes, there is a conspiracy here. No, it is not a theory.

    It’s just business, people. They are doing what’s best for them to turn high profits for shareholders. If you’re a small business owner and have been a victim of legitimate review filtering, report Yelp to the FTC.

    • got2bkidding

      Couldn’t agree with you more. We are pretty disgusted with Yelp and I will take your advice about reporting them to the FTC.

    • Grants Painting

      Same thing happened to me! Exactly like that. I even got a “Cant promise anything but we’ll see what we can do” from the salesmen. Can the FTC really do anything though, After all… the guy didn’t promise anything.

      I really do appreciate the way the landscape is changing with online reviews through.

    • Chuck

      Ditto with my hotel business as well. They hold you hostage by only allowing the negative reviews to stick until you pay for advertise with them. Then they finally let the positive reviews you receive stay up. I wish the government would do an investigation on them.

    • Frustrated

      What is the link for the FTC reporting?

  • martinw392

    Business owners are trying to kill yelp utilizing all means possible, one that I’ve heard of recently is that business owners are creating yelp accounts and using them to hit yelp advertisers with negative reviews to deter their support of yelp with advertising dollars in order to bring down yelp. Seems like this would be a very effective effort if enough people get on board with it….be careful about advertising on yelp if you value your businesses good will and reputation, this whole thing has degenerated to a war. Yelp should be illegal.

    • got2bkidding

      I don’t know any small business owners that have the time to do what you’re suggesting to bring Yelp down.

      • martinw392

        An eye for an eye, if yelp harms a businesses potential customers for their profit then businesses owners will hit yelps advertising customers with bad reviews, like the Mafia says they take one of ours we take one of theirs. Fuck Yelp!

      • Sherman Oaks

        Clearing my throat, excuse me…Now that technology is at our fingertips, this ^^^ reminds me of Grandma or Grandpa, even a kid, getting frustrated because they refuse to learn or ask questions. Usually it’s the, I’ll act stupid so someone else will fix it, type of issue. Do you not know anyone in your family or anyone on your side of things that you can ask to help with this??? You took the time to post that sentence. If money is the issue, then maybe I would have a bit of sympathy but time? You have time, I’m sure.

    • Catata

      You say that this is happening yet you are angry when Yelp filters a review for fearing it might be fake?

      Makes sense.

  • theshark58

    Yelp hurts small business more than it helps.
    They will post a negative review from a person with a new account,1 review, no friends, zero activity.
    If a new review is a 5 star, with a new account- they filter it.
    we manage online campaigns for small business.
    We submitted to YELP proof that 2 of our customers reviewers (4 total) used new accounts to write the same 1 star review. One of the reviewers was a competitor and his wife. Same info written days later. All showed up bringing clients rating down to 3 stars.

    They did nothing.

    BTW- Their PPC campaigns don’t work and their search capabilities within the site makes no sense. Reality is you have to deal with them.

    • Sherman Oaks

      Shark58, maybe you can be so kind as to help Got2bkidding with his homework. Thanks

  • nick

    yelp are a disgrace they have put a review from a person we are gong to sue for malicious falshood and past them detailed written evidence and they still refused to take it off they have had a bad affect on my business and i would like to know how to ruin them as they have tried to ruin me

  • Jeff Goldstein

    When I first used Yelp, I thought is was a good tool for the consumer. Now, I really don’t use Yelp as a primary resource.
    I’ve worked for companies that built very strong businesses on posting reviews and we never engaged in the kinds of practices being attributed to Yelp. We did not filter nor did we delete consumer responses and the methodology for our ratings were totally transparent.
    If people no longer have confidence in Yelp, then they will find other sources to go to for reviews of businesses and Yelp will eventually just disappear. No business (online or brick and mortar) can survive without consumer confidence. Yelp may very well become an example of this

    • JaySteff

      “?If people no longer have confidence in Yelp, then they will find other sources to go to for reviews”
      Not necessarily. A lot of the yelp poster (like the guy who posted 6 a day) are the same types as the government conspiracy/area 51/big business us a plot to take your money poison the water types.
      They always think someone lives just to rip them off and will stay with yelp til it gasps it’s last.

  • SunnyDeigo

    Yelp may just be the biggest and longest “pump and dump” stock scam in Wall Street history. All the insiders are bailing and selling all their stock.

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    Yelp is built on a notion of legalized blackmail, not much different to the “ex-girlfriend” websites where they get private pics and then demand money to have them removed.

    I don’t care if Yelp claims that they don’t blackmail people into advertizing, the possibility (PROBABILITY) is there and no one has any reason to trust that a company which relies on revenues to operate would not do this.

    Come on, are we all supposed to be so naive as to believe Yelp would not want to increase profits by at least “alluding” to the “impression” that companies can get a more favourable representation if they pay for it?

    People need to grow up, boycott this useless company and use the net sensibly like all other rational people do. Review sites are useless to consumers and dangerous to businesses.

  • gladman9

    We did an advertising campaign with yelp and it provided very few results, it was pitiful. we have 100’s of legitimate positive reviews and yelp has filtered just about all of them. They have allowed 1 good review and then have published 3 horribly negative reviews from guests who didn’t even use our service; they were just complaining prior to purchasing. We are a legitimate vacation lodging company with 100’s of reviews on sites such as google and trip advisor and some on citysearch and yahoo. Yelp doesn’t present an accurate representation of our business and as such I don’t believe they do for others as well.

    • got2bkidding

      I know your pain. We have experienced the same thing.

    • JaySteff

      Accurate representation does not sell to the Yelp crowd. Uninformed voter crowed….

  • AHA

    I agree with the person that claimed “Yelp is the new Mafia”. Cyberspace Thugs with the mission to extort money.

  • PayTheUpfrontPrice

    Yelp’s business model and review process is highly flawed. It’s ripe for unscrupulous business owners (of which there are many) to game the system with positive reviews for their business and negative reviews for their competitors.

    You can’t blame Yelp for trying to police it when it’s obvious as in the case with the Nail salon. However, you also have to consider that for every unsophisticated scammer like Mr. Bui, there are 10 others that will never get caught. As such, it is a loosing battle and you’ll never be able to trust results fully.

    It’s up the the individual consumer to work these reviews out. If you see 10 reviews for a sight and the first three were negative over a wide time frame and then you see seven positives on a single day, you probably have a scammer. But, there will be those individuals with NO common sense.

    Caveat emptor or buyer beware should be exercised by every consumer. But a sucker is born every day and in the famous words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”

  • Tyler

    Yelp does not live by its standards. It only cares for profits and who can spend the most!!! A competitor went on there used my logo and my name. When I brought it to their attention their reply was ” you can have a joes beef in one state and a joes beef in another.(our name is not joes beef) When I informed Yelp that our name is trademarked, they still did nothing. The competitor began posting fake yelp reviews under our company and yelp did nothing. i later found out that the company was paying yelp for advertising.

  • Joyce

    every Yelp review I have written – good or bad – is never counted.

  • Guest

    There are two major flaws with Yelp: 1) They have sales people that make commission on how much they sell. This I would assume affects which reviews are hidden or approved. 2) Business owners hiring people to write fake reviews.

    Like most things that go big, Yelp is another way to game the system. It is impossible for Yelp to figure out which reviews are real and which are fake. For them to manually check every review for “realness” would be unsustainable, and even if they did, it could still be faked.

  • doomedby2020

    Its fairly unanimous that Yelp manipulates its own reviews. Businesses cannot avoid being listed on Yelp nor can they ask to be removed from Yelp.

    So how is it legal for them to make money off our listing? How can they hold us hostage, then slap warning labels over our reviews falsely accusing us of something criminal, with impunity?
    The laws have got to change, obviously, since Yelp seems to be forcing the hand.

    Lets start with making it a lawful right for businesses to opt-out of any listing with reviews?

  • ArtofTarot

    I have 2 reviews on my account. One is very well written. The other is written by a disgruntled tenant who was evicted from the building/premises by his girlfriend/room mate who was at the time, the only person listed on the lease agreement. The apartment was in her name so he was gone when the relationship was over. He tried to get another apt in the same building and I am the manager which is why he is so mad at me. I won’t let him into the building so he wrote letters to city cops, RCMP, the building owner and as I see, Yelp. I never bothered to try and remove them and I am surprised that yelp allowed them as there is no identity attached to the comments.
    franksartoftarot.com theartoftarot.co theartoftarot.net

  • James Hall

    Yelp is likely to frquently become a shakedown and extortion racket just like the Southern California Better Business Bureau which eventually was booted out of the national organization for getting caught at doing what everybody else gets away with. Which is shakedown and extortion. Unless Yelp does not intend to be profitable they will continue down this path. Nobody really needs another yellow pages or online shopping mall. EXTORTION is what business owners are herded and frightened into paying. Yelp couldn’t pay the janitor with their website’s online ad revenue. Like all sociopaths (corporations are people too) they just have no visible alternative to victimizing anybody that lets them do so.

  • PK

    I pay Yelp to advertise and they STILL filter out most of my reviews. I wish I could cut them off but Yelp is a useful tool to gain new business.

  • got2bkidding

    We are a small business with a Yelp account. Of the 11 legitamate reviews we have had posted, Yelp has filtered out 8 of them. We contacted them several times about this and they continually site the filtering algorithm as the reason and that they can’t change anything. It is frustrating to have customers come to us, like our service, take the time to post a review, and then have Yelp arbitrarily not count it in our overall rating…which is still 5 stars thankfully. Most Yelp users are not aware that they can look at the filtered reviews as the link to those is grayed out. We were a sponsored Yelp advertiser for a short period of time and got absolutely nothing for our $350 per month.
    After our business experience with Yelp I no longer use Yelp for my personal searches. I feel they do a great disservice to businesses.

  • we’ll see

    Yelp will not allow you to remove your name from the business listings once you’ve set it up. I think we should start there. In the middle of setting up my listing I tried to delete it, and got a call from the advertising department, that ended up yelling at me that the “paying for good reviews to appear” was just a story and it never happens and I was ridiculous for trying to delete my profile. I want my profile deleted… why is that not allowed? With the way he was yelling, I’m waiting for some false reviews that I’m going to have to fight or pay to have removed….

  • Zane

    Jeremy Stoppelman and his Yelp crew are geniuses. They have found a way to use young people to build constantly new and changing content for free. The reviewers are just rewarded by giving them the title Yelpers. If the Yelpers write enough reviews, legitimate or not, they are awarded the title “Elite”. Yelp is a website where quantity is everything. Quality is defined by the number of words and the number of reviews written. The fools that write for Yelp are more than happy to do it because they feel like real critics and are empowered with the knowledge that what they write can help or hurt big bad businesses. Most don’t realize they are working for a greedy corporate giant.

    In past years, unethical companies would have to go to offshore writers to get the millions of reviews/articles Yelp has and it would cost them a fortune. But Yelp has successfully harnessed the egos of young losers by telling them how important they are and giving them fancy titles and a big voice. Elite Yelpers can be more important than New York Times critics and columnists. However, NYT critics may sometimes be sarcastic, but they do follow rules. Yelp has no such requirement of their people and there is no way to stop them. They even glorify writers who have written almost 5 reviews a day 365 days a year. Even a full time critic with a huge expense account would have trouble actually going to and doing business with so many establishments in a single year. To most people and the FTC that would be a major red flag, but Yelps’ rules are a little fuzzy when it comes to what is a legitimate review and what is just hot air. Rules do not stop the greedy Yelp crew which helps make them richer while small businesses get hurt.

    Money just keeps flowing in from Wall Street investors who are clueless as to how the whole process works. Most of the young Yelpers are also clueless as to how much money is being made by Jeremy and his team based on the work they are performing. There are some Elite Yelpers that have been making noise lately and are rumored to have received some freebies, but that is nothing compared to the millions the top brass is bringing in. Of course they could start paying their reviewers which would help bigger wealthy companies get more good reviews and make the site even less of a value (if that is possible).

    How ironic that the 99% crowd are writing reviews that complain about greedy businesses while working for free to support a mega greedy corporation, Yelp.

  • Anon

    Everyday a man named Sean calls me from Yelp saying his is my account rep. First off I wasn’t aware that I had an account rep with yelp. I finally answered his call and told him I was not going to pay for anything to be on Yelp because of the bad reviews people get on it and fake reviews that are bad from competitors. He knew nothing about any of the reports about Yelp. He denied everything I said and went on to tell me how many hits my catering company gets. I have a hits tracker on my website and the hits that come from Yelp are majority New Jersey and Korea Germany and other over seas places. YET he insisted I needed Yelp because at least I was getting those hits. My business is in California.

    The point is, Yelp does way more harm than good. I feel for these people who get bad reviews.

  • http://www.midgr.com MIDGR.COM

    Organized blackmail

  • JM

    Yelp has repeatedly moved sincere reviews to the filtered sections, while keeping fake reviews on site front. I won’t use Yelp, participate, nor consider it’s content seriously.

  • Yelp user

    I use Yelp. The last line of defense in this greedy world. “Too many people to care” is the attitude of most business owners in my opinion. A real review is easy to spot, as is a fake one. Freedom of speech is there to protect, not sell Porn! From apartment ratings to food, to finding a dentist. I use it.
    When more then two people have negatives to say it is because 100’s are too lazy to report it. If there are two to three good reports those are even higher for those who will report it.
    I also use TripAdvisor for my travels and am never disappointed. Another rating service that comes with apologies and excuses from management for their sub par service and rave reviews for quality vacations, dining, etc

    • gladman9

      obviously a fake comment from yelp

  • Reid

    After a few months, I have not gotten any business referrals from Yelp but received sales calls from customer service reps wanting me to upgrade to more expensive advertising. I wanted to delete my ad but apparently Yelp doesn’t allow you to do this yourself.

  • Ken R.

    I am a Yelp user and I find it very useful in discovering new places for me to go. Although I have not submitted very many reviews, the ones I have left are very positive and honest and I have seen them appear on the front page of the business.

    I think a big part of the problem businesses have with Yelp is that they don’t embrace the criticism. Instead of using those reviews as a tool to make their business better they take offense to it.

    No business owner wants to hear anything bad about their business but if you do something the customer doesn’t like or you don’t meet the customers needs then a negative review is what you are going to end up with.

    • gladman9

      ken, you are a user, not a business owner. don’t assume what we as business owners think unless you have experienced it. i’m not offended by bad reviews, i’m offended that a brand new user to yelp can post a bad review and it gets displayed whereas 100’s of other legitimate reviews we have are filtered. it simply doesn’t tell the whole story. our good reviews are real and are not being posted. in fact, we have 3 negative total reviews and they are all displayed whereas 100’s of others are not. of course we could attempt to make lemonade out of lemons but sometimes that doesn’t always work. just be fair yelp…post the good stuff too.

      it’s almost as if they feel mudslinging is more entertaining for their users.

    • yelp-hater

      You sound like you work for Yelp. You are obviously not a small business owner or operator who has seen the pain that lies and hate can cause through Yelp. Using Yelp, any competitor, malcontent or mean-spirited person can hurt a business at their own will–and there is nothing which can be done about it. If Yelp came up with a way to filter out some of the lies and inaccurate reviews along with the positive ones there would be some type of balance, but they do not do so.

    • franco

      Ken you are so wrong. As a business owner I love negative feed back, especially if it’s honest. Most people are afraid to really say what they feel and we (Businesses) get a false sense of accomplishment. But Yelp seems to really hoover on the negative and if they feel a review is too good then they just blacklist it. UNLESS you sign up for their advertising. So as a user NOW YOU KNOW, those great reviews your reacting to are purchased, like cheap sex on the corner. I don’t know of a single small business who has the time or the resources to plant reviews about them selves or against a competitor. Any brick n mortar business is already working nights and weekends just to stay ahead of the flow of real important business. Who has time to sow seeds of hate on a competitor? Plus imaging the money it would cost if it was found out?? You would loose the business. The other side of false reviews I noticed both in my business and neighboring businesses is many of the negative reviews tend to be embellished just to make them a little more credible, when they really are just whining.
      Compare a Yelp review to the same business’ Google reviews or other review sites. Why are there only negative reviews on yelp ?
      I am amazed at the level of stupidity smart people display by believing what they read in reviews written by emotional beings.

    • r.r.

      Ken, you clearly have no clue how this really goes down do you? I have spoke to Yelp many times about false reviews, contradictions to their “algorithm” etc. etc. Just google “Yelp extortion” and read some of the horror stories. As a business owner, i have no problem with criticism, but i would also like to celebrate the positive. Yelp is blackmailing us.

  • Jeff

    The reality of the situation is Yelp is protecting consumers from the countless number of businesses who attempt to game the system by posting and soliciting fake reviews. In my experience, and in many others, the ratings for the most part accurately reflect the quality of the product/service I’m getting from a business. I will continue to trust and use Yelp for making decisions while the user reviewed content remains accurate.

    I know many restaurant owners in the NYC area who openly admit to trying to game the system by negatively rating competitor establishments and soliciting fake positive reviews for their own. You guys can continue to accuse Yelp of extortionist practices, but your cries are falling on deaf ears.

    • gladman9

      ummm, no they are not falling on deaf ears. if you have something statistically to back you up, then us business owners will believe you.

    • http://DCincome.com/blog Matthew Loop

      Yelp does not protect consumers. They are in business to make money and have an obligation to shareholders. To blindly trust them is foolish. Some businesses benefit by Yelp but the overwhelming majority of them do not. They are being harmed by Yelp not featuring legitimate positive reviews.

      In 2014 with the technology available to us, it is inexcusable (and unethical) to filter positive reviews by a happy customer. If Yelp was serious about helping the average small business, they would’ve offered more customer support WITHOUT the hard upselling.

  • David Pickett

    The problem with fake reviews is not just Yelp but also Trip Adviser. A competitor can write anything about your products even when clearly not true. Trip Adviser does have a complaint process for a business owner to get a fake review removed but this process is just a joke. Trip Adviser’s concern is only for Trip Adviser with no concern for the business owner dealing with dishonest reviews.

  • Shaun

    I would disagree with those who say that Yelp filters out only positive reviews. I signed up to give a negative review to a restaurant. Pretty much the same complaints tons of others have made about the place.
    It was filtered. When I read the filtered reviews there were a lot of the same comments. I think their filter looks to see if someone just signed up, and that leads to filtering legitimate reviews.

  • dudley stump

    One man’s recent experience. Yelp salesman ate at client’s restaurant, gave glowing review, few days later asked for $500/month ads. Client said not possible now. Client never saw guy come back but shortly after, he posted a bad review saying he could not believe it was the same place he previously liked.

  • dzng111

    Ironically the knock on Yelp is that people only post when they want to complain — as with this thread!

    I’m actually a restaurant owner who has a positive experience with Yelp. Most of our reviews are positve, they were instrumental in getting us off the ground when we launched (Believe it or not)

    All the posts here miss two key points: Are the negative posts valid or total BS? More importantly, does Yelp effect consumer behavior? If it’s not a factor that all the reviews, good and bad, are irrelevant

  • Old Solar Guy

    All this smoke-screen about fake positive reviews, yet they do nothing about FAKE NEGATIVE reviews the only visible review we have is from someone who wasn’t our customer. We also have 5 or 6 legitimate reviews which are all Hidden. We’ve been in business for 45 years and the only review you can see is this fraudulent review. No I’d have to say that Yelp is not relevant, for a consumer, there’s no checks to see that it’s not a competitor or just some sick person posting. The name Yelp connotes negative info and I’m sure that they go for the negative cause it’s what sells.

  • Manoj M.

    Don’t think that advertising helps you. I pay $1000/month for advertising, and the same exact things happen to me. My good reviews get filtered, and I have competitors put up negative reviews that are designed to smear or hurt me personally at times, and those always remain. You can go on Yelp, sign up for a new account, put up a negative one star review, and it will NEVER be filtered out. I have people that sign in with their facebook accounts, put up a picture, even sign their real name, and they will get filtered. Being a paid advertiser doesn’t help at all. Yelp has set their filter and their algorithm so bad reviews outweigh good ones, and have made it easy for competitors to smear a business. When will their be a good class action lawsuit against their unfair and biased filter, rather than just against their past “pay to play” scheme?

  • Henry Amado

    I didn’t sign up for Yelp. I didn’t sign any contract or ask for any services from Yelp. But, because it is essentially a website about my business, I am forced to maintain it without any compensation. The problem with Yelp is that I cannot opt out of it. As a business owner we have had to correct our Yelp file on numerous occasions. I don’t need Yelp to generate business. And I have no interest in people who would come to my business from a Yelp review. But I do care about the inaccuracies and I don’t feel that Yelp cares. I would like to see a simple piece of legislation clarifying my right to opt of out Yelp.

  • David

    I totally agree with the negative Yelp sentiments. They allowed personal attacks to be published which had nothing to do with our business for reasons I can’t fathom. Perhaps as another comment indicated, they were hoping we would advertise in order to get them to remove the posts.

    • yelp-hater

      I agree. They have allowed insults and personal attacks and have no interest in dealing with the removal of such unfounded defamatory postings… Meanwhile, they hide any strong positive reviews. I despise Yelp and wish them the worst.. I would love to join with others to destroy or defeat Yelp…

      • martinw392

        gotta create a fake yelp account and gotta hit yelp advertisers with negative wake up call reviews so advertisers stop supporting yelp with advertising dollars….sucks but its the only way to hit em where it hurts, yelp has no problem hitting and hurting us, we need to be pro active and hit back.

  • yelpsucks

    Yelp is an insidious and inconsistent review site which hurts small business owners… They go overboard to hide and disqualify positive reviews, while allowing defamatory, unsubstantiated hateful reviews from folks who might now even have a history with Yelp.. Why would anybody advertise on Yelp as long as they publish bad reviews–so they have too make things better for those suckers who pay them for advertising

  • michael shaw

    Yelp SUCKS! After a couple of years of zero ROI I stopped paying for YELP marketing services. Since that time all of my positive reviews have mysteriously disappeared into the archived section, while the two negative reviews my business has received in 11 years are prominently displayed. When I confronted the YELP drones, they offer the defense that the site is run by an algorithm and they have no power over which reviews are shown. It would also take a divine act to remove your business from the YELP pages. The only saving grace is that the discerning New York City consumer doesn’t use YELP. However, it troubles me to think that someone who rally needs our services (we are a health and fitness company) might never receive the care they need because they took the YELP review as truth.

    It is somewhat comforting to see that I”m not the only one suffering this fate. I will be contacting the FTC

  • chefnateoakland

    As someone that works in the industry yelp is very hard for me. To be honest I have not looked at any of the reviews left about my cooking or the restaurant that I work at for years. Most of the time they are a waste of time and I don’t really care what they are saying. Even a good review is not worth much to me as they look like one in a million repeated reviews. It is really funny when someone complains about something that they didn’t like when we don’t even serve that dish, like they were reviewing the wrong place. The ONLY reason I use yelp is, as a consumer looking for a place to eat, to see a list of available restaurants that I might not know about or don’t remember them. I don’t read the reviews.

  • Jeff Safire

    I have heard of many small business who refused Yelp’s offer to advertise and soon found most of their good reviews behind the filter, where they are barely noticable and most Yelp.com visitors don’t even realize those reviews are there. Three family and family-friends’ small businesses all have trouble keeping their rating at 3 or above due to very questionable reviews. I am putting my money on Vouchd, a new service where you view the ratings of your Facebook friends. Now, that makes a lot of sense to me. (I have no affiliation with Vouchd other than I am signed up for their beta test.)

  • franco

    Yelp is worthless to me as a business owner. I have tirelessly tried to figure out why a single bad review stays at the top of my review listings regardless of all the good reviews I have and lately my good reviews are being hidden as if they are not real. BUT, they want me to spend money with them and open whole new door to reviews and exposure that I can only have for a monthly fee. REALLY??? I’m not that stupid Yelp cares more about making money off business owners who desire the love and affection of consumers and are willing to buy it, than the integrally and real experience of actual customers, and pointing them in the right direction. At least that my opinion based on 4 plus years of observation.

  • Bullied by yelp

    YELP is a Bully.

    A mafia of online Reputation destruction.

    I totally agree & have had the same experience with them. Advertise with them or you are doomed.

    Yelp will make sure your negative reviews stay and positive reviews are filtered.

    They destroy and hurt Good & Honest businesses.

    Now watch my reputation go down even more.

  • Bodi

    Has Yelp been treating businesses fair? Absolutely not. My business has also been the recipient of the arrogant business practices employed by Yelp. Their sales techniques rival those of a snake oil salesmen. Trying to get a clear cut definition of what exactly you get is near to impossible. We had one review that was four stars but clearly not our business. I called Yelp several times and emailed their “contact us” address. I simply thought that it would be fair for the proper business to receive credit. It was very clear by the description of the wall hangings that the reviewer had mixed us up with a competitor across the street. Yelp refused to correct the mistake and very curtly informed me that if that is what their reviewer posted they were not changing it. Really, a good review would not be moved to the proper business? I would bet my paycheck that there are people (advertising sales people) that have fiddled with the reviews to either influence businesses to advertise or punish them for not doing so. The advertising culture at Yelp is predatory at best.

  • http://www.agathas.com Ricky@Agathas

    I stopped reading anything on Yelp a couple of years ago. Our dinner theatre in Atlanta had a couple of negative reviews. I was concerned that the reviewers had not even been to our theatre. Some of the content was just not accurate, little things like radishes and onions in our salads.In 25 years neither of these have ever been in our salads. Another reviewer wrote that she had to chase down a waiter to get a glass of water. Water is preset at your assigned table and seat before we open the doors each night. Anywho, I would try to defend Agatha’s with out coming across as bitter. Was not always successful at that. In the end I just let it go. It feels good to know that I was not just being paranoid as some, who shall remain nameless, speculated. I knew something was amiss with Yelp. I remember telling someone, “It will catch up to them”. “The truth always comes out, just give it some time, and you’ll see”. Well how about that. The time seems to be now!

  • Michael

    I am a restauanteaur in Kansas City and understand that we have to win our guests over every time that they visit our establishment. As bad as it sounds, sometimes a customer’s water is not filled in time. We do everything to not be overbearing, let people have conversations, and create an experience that they remember. Everyones expectations are different. That said, we may have a bad review; at the same time, if we filled it, we may be interrupting. Instead of being upset with a platform that has the ‘freedom of speech’ to tarnish our reputation, we need to be proactive, and create a paradigm shift where people can develop opinions for themselves… We recently joined a platform that does just that. My intentions are not to advertise my business on a forum, but to open others eyes to new ways to get in front of consumers. All while developing there own opinions. Great work OverKC.com, a picture is worth a thousand words. Yelp has a lot to learn from you.

  • Stewart Edrich

    Yelp is EXTORTION! They call me 7 times a day to make me PAY
    UP. They want about $300 a month to”advertise”
    and if you don’t then they take down positive reviews and then advertise other
    practices on your site. The only company you cannot Yelp about on Yelp is Yelp!
    It is sad that business owners all know of this extortion scam but customers don’t

  • marbleheadman

    Unethical. Bad for business. Dishonest. When my company declined their advertising “offer”, ALL of our positive reviews disappeared. That was 2 years ago. Despite DOZENS of positives, only the negative appear on my Yelp page!

  • Deanna Townsend

    Yelp greatly misrepresents our company online. We have thousands of customers that we service regularly and they are very happy with our level of service. Many of them have wrote positive reviews about us on Yelp and those have all been filtered. The only reviews that are visible now are negative reviews. Many of those positive reviews were visible but disappeared shortly after Yelp unsuccessfully solicited us to pay for advertising. Coincidence??

  • Hugh Jassole

    Yelp is a disgrace— Its a soapbox for grumpy asses, malcontents, competitors and haters to defame legitimate businesses.. No doubt that Yelp would allow Hitler to review a Jewish deli and would call it a legitimate review . Yelp would probably allow a pedophile to review a day care center too. Yelp=scumbag whores!

  • sjh

    wow, I’m amazed by all the negative comments I LOVE YELP. I use it to see what others think of businesses I may try. I have personal experience with a neighbor lobbying ALL her friends to write in that she’s a GREAT real estate agent, when in fact, she’s brand new, and none of us have had houses bought or sold by her. I want to know honest opinions of businesses, not that someone lobbied all their friends to write a business is great, when they don’t know. I did tell this local woman, I’ve not worked with you as a real estate agent so I can’t say you’re a good one!!!–she was pissed off. What’s the value of an inaccurate assessment? That did teach me NOT to assume business reviews are accurate, they may be written by friends without experience of that business, or, I see from yelp, even PAID to write good reviews. Good grief! I welcome Yelp’s tracking of fraudulent claims, makes me more confident the claims I see, are justified, as opposed to fake. I’ve written 2 reviews myself–2 for good businesses and 2 for bad ones–representing my actual experiences with those businesses. Looking at other businesses, I see good and bad reviews. I’m wondering if some of the negative comments below, are competitors of yelp, or bad businesses!

    • martinw392

      You obviously don’t own a business that yelp is defaming and extorting from, if you ever put your heart and soul into something and have a grave injustice imposed on it then and only then will you fully understand yelps seedy underbelly and get what’s going on behind the rosy yelp façade presented to reviewers and consumers.

  • Torrey Waag

    I manage a small hotel and restaurant in a rural area. We
    have consistently received 4.5 stars for the hotel and restaurant on review
    sites including Yelp. A couple months ago a Yelp salesman called and suggested
    we advertise on Yelp. As we run over 95% occupancy year around with no
    advertising, I declined. A few weeks later I searched Yelp for hotels in our
    area, and our hotel did not appear. I searched Yelp for restaurants in our
    area, and our restaurant did not appear. Recently I asked a Yelp representative
    to include our Inn and restaurant in Yelp
    searches. After checking with his manager, he said he couldn’t—something related
    to algorithms. In my experience Yelp is run like a protection racket making the
    site close to worthless for consumers. Our restaurant has been number one on
    Trip Advisor for two years, and it doesn’t even appear in a Yelp search.

  • markh5433

    Yelp needs to partner with one of the companies that have developed review filters that actually work… I saw this on Wikipedia “Testimonial Shield, a private company that began third party testimonial and review verification in the mid-2000’s was awarded an independent business award for “the 2013 San Diego Award in the Data Verification Service category” for their ability to automatically discern with a claimed 90+% accuracy the difference between a legitimate review and an fake review, which displays great progress towards the prevention of fake reviews and testimonials on the internet.” Seems like Yelp could stand to partner with this company…

  • guest

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/pay-it-forward-ban-yelp
    Pay it Forward: Ban Yelp from Search Engines until they stop their
    harmful practices. Yelp is destroying small businesses. They have gamed
    the search engine companies and our system of free enterprise. They
    have a clear conflict of interest, and this harms everyone. Help small
    businesses succeed, and you will help all economies prosper. This will
    help everyone! Thank you!

  • Dennis J Barela

    In my opinion, Yelp welcomes and “farms” all reviews whether good, bad or fictitious and then posts them as they see fit depending upon if you pay them or not.

    • martinw392

      Very True, Yelp “FARMS” review content by having social events/party’s for their so called “elite” reviewers”. This is where local businesses give them free food and products. Essentially yelp and the businesses that supply the food and products are bribing 20 something young people for their review content. This is exactly what Yelp tells businesses NOT to do, ie, “don’t ask for reviews”, but because yelp is a “for profit” company it does what it takes to make THEM profitable. Then as a result of these yelp hosted party’s they develop a social – “circle jerk” of “Yelpers” who are the main source of their review content. It is NOT generally the regular public that leaves these reviews, Its these bribed 20 something minions of yelp who are happy about the fact that they went to a yelp hosted party for them that are writing the review content. Yelp then uses and manipulates the farmed content/data/negative reviews written by these minions to coheres advertising from the victims of the negative reviews, ie wanna make it better? then pay us for some umm umm…. advertising, yea that’s it… advertising, lets call it that, …..and it will all be better for you……. Yelp is absolute scum!!

  • drussell51

    I use Yelp all the time, as I’m on the road a lot. It has helped me find some restaurants that I would never have tried, and most of them have been really good. The photos patrons leave really help; sometimes all I need are the photos to help me decide.

    • martinw392

      photos can be and are regularly faked, and you probably skipped over some restaurants that were every bit as good or better but did not patronise them because you were lied to by fake reviewers and/or because they were slandered unfairly by an ex employee or a competitor.

  • Armina Gabrielyan Yaksich

    Yelp review filter system is a joke. How can it filter 20 reviews out of 25? How can it filter only positive and show only negative? I have met few of their employees myself and from my conversation with them it totally sounded like they are scamming businesses. Of course they didn’t say exactly, but they informed me why my reviews are being filtered. Once business gets a negative review then that account is pretty much f’d. I have total legit 4 and 5 star reviews by clients who found us on Yelp, also filtered. My account is only holding any old or new negative reviews but doesn’t hold any new positive reviews. Even if 100 clients review it will be waste of their time, cause they will get filtered.

  • Patrick Crosby

    Yelp took a good review I had and it has vanished.Yet the bad review stands out all over the place..by the way,the bad one was FAKE and I responded to it with proof saying so.The good review was completed by a loyal customer of 3 years..cant understand why Yelp does this.It is not to stop FAKE reviews otherwise I would NOT have one.Which I believe to be from the hands of my Step-Daughter while she was mad at me…P.S. She is still mad at me.lol

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

    We have been yelp advertisers for years – take it from me, they give NO special consideration to advertisers. There are 2 fraudulent 1-star reviews, both written by the same individual ( a client we ‘fired’) and despite our pleas, yelp keeps them both featured perpetually for eternity. It gets me sick when I see over 40 filtered 5-star reviews – it is not fair to my staff who worked so hard to actually have a client take their own valuable time to sit down and share about their experience at Guys & Dolls and yelp just immediately filters them while leaving the bogus reviews showing.

  • HotelHoney

    I asked Yelp- My business shows up 58th when you search for hotels in my area, if I change to a paid listing how will that change my ranking and I quote directly from the sales manager’s email response: “It’s difficult to determine how
    the program will affect your natural search rankings but I can say the more
    content on your page the better. We want to show the businesses that have the
    most information for users to look at. At the end of the day, it definitely won’t hurt but there’s no telling how far you’d jump in rankings.” Every question I had, there was a vague answer like that. Why spend money on something that is based on speculation?

  • Chuck

    Even when I surrendered and paid the ransom to Yelp and they let the good reviews stick finally, I did not see any reservations attributable to Yelp. (And we ask every guest that books a reservation of their referral source). When I asked the account rep about that with Yelp, he stated that it’s because people looking for hotels have to be searching in the specific city that I am located in before they can find me.
    So that means if you have a hotel in Santa Monica or Burbank, a Yelp searcher cannot just search for LA hotels and find you. They have to type the actual city you are located in before they find you. It produced nothing in business referrals and was exponentially more expensive than TripAdvisor.

  • Chris H

    Has anyone ever questioned that yelp is paying the government or paying someone of a higher power to let these crimes happen? It just seems to farfetched for this to go on for years and nobody put a stop to it. I personally think tied into the government somehow to destroy small business to keep the corporations alive. Has anyone ever legitimately sued Yelp and won? Or do you know anyone that has successfully done this? If you have please reply to me i would love to know the story. Im a business owner as well. My trick with yelp is that I just dont answer their calls. I have caller id and I save every number that associates with them so when they call my employees just dont pick up and when they do they all just act dumb and say they dont know when ill be in. I been going on for 7 months like this but its only a matter of time before they filter my positive reviews I have 15 5 star reviews 4 filiters 5 star reviews. ALL REAL REVIEWS!!!!!

    Im getting my case ready for a lawyer and when i do decide to talk to yelp i will record our conversation so i can use that as evidence that they are extorting me. I have been taking snap shots of my yelp account showing my reviews and the dates. I been recording my profile with video through the iphone showing dates my reviews are on my account so when they disappear after I decline their advertising it will show that they really extortionist. After i have all this i will make a youtube video and blast it on social media. I recommend every business owner does this!

  • Eddie Estabrook

    Yelp has allowed my business and personal name be ruined over a person who wrote a review and I never worked for them. Ends up it was an ex trying to ruin my business and yelp wont remove it the just have me talk to sales staff . Who they use for customer service issues. Liars and crooked these guys are. Its terrible my busin3ss is really hurting.

  • Eddie Estabrook

    Report to the FTC and join stock twits and inform investors this stock is going to hit bottom. It will affect them in the pocketbook.

  • Mitch

    I recommended Yelp for a local food chain because of its popularity. The buy was about $350/month and the number of views rose dramatically. However, none of those extra views translated into sales until we tried a coupon. Even then the amount of sales did not justify the expense.

    As for comments being filtered, it appears to me that a negative review is given more weight than a positive review evidenced by the date of posting. Older negative reviews were listed higher than newer positive ones.

    I subsequently recommended to not renew the buy and move on. Although we did monitor the reviews every week.

  • Beatrice

    With the internet we are basically dealing with a new
    platform of information with a huge impact on our information environment, and
    as such it will require new rules and new laws as well.

    Yelp cannot claim to grant freedom of speech if it filters
    legitimate positive reviews. That’s bona-fide censorship – and in Yelp’s case censorship
    for a profit. And quite frankly I don’t
    know if that is even legal.

    Also reviewers should be taking responsibility for their
    reviews, there shouldn’t be anonymous reviews. That will do a lot for communication between
    business owners and customers. It takes much time and effort to build a small
    business. There should be a time limit for negative reviews to be on somebody’s
    business listing. Everyone should have the opportunity to remedy their short
    comings and not be branded for eternity.