Saturday, March 21, 2015

Problems with Yelp

Greetings all.  It's been quite a while since I've written and hopefully my schedule will allow me to share more with you.

Today I want to discuss issues with online media.  My note today is about Yelp.  I have had a very interesting experience with Yelp lately--they have removed 50% of my five-star ratings.  Yelp has an algorithm that automatically scans all listings and it decides which listings should remain and which should be removed from ready view.  For AltaGolden this means that we've had multiple 5-star reviews moved into an area called "other reviews that are not currently recommended".

I personally think this is wrong on multiple levels.  First, when my appreciative clients have spent the time to go online to post their review, only to have Yelp remove it, it disincentivizes people from posting.  Second, it does not allow consumers who are coming to my site to see all of the wonderful reviews that have been posted.  And lastly, it does not give an accurate aggregate rating when half of the ratings have been arbitrarily removed.

When I saw this happening I started to investigate Yelp.  I learned from other small business owners that their wonderful reviews are also being removed.  I then looked at the Better Business Bureau site and learned that Yelp is not an accredited business; they have over 1500 complaints against them; and there are many many complaints listed on the BBB site with exactly the same complaints.

Yelp has had one federal investigation against them for collecting data about minors and there have been two law suits brought about the same advertising practices that I mention above.  In addition, they have no rating on the BBB site.  I don't understand why this is because you don't need to be an accredited business to have a rating on the BBB.  Most businesses listed on the BBB that have the numbers of complaints that Yelp has are given an "F" rating. 

So, my request of all business and consumers is to not use Yelp.  Don't read their reviews, don't buy their marketing products, don't click to their site until they fix their disreputable business practices.  Yelp claims to be an unbiased venue for consumers to post their opinions.  The problem is that they cannot truly be unbiased when they are removing reviews; and they do not give businesses the ability to speak with a customer support person when there is a problem.  I have their sales staff contact me on a regular basis trying to get me to pay for advertising.  They will not, however, let me speak to a live customer service person.  When I sent an email to their help line I received back a canned note and no follow up.

Yelp is not a credible business.  Please use other sources for the information you are seeking about a business in which you have an interest.  In my opinion, Yelp should not be given your consideration.