I was introduced to Yelp when I first started a shop. It seemed simple enough; users posted customer reviews, like Google reviews.
However, I noticed that they do something Google reviews never does. They call up asking for money to advertise, as much as $500 a month.
They also tend to filter away any positive reviews. I have a suspicion that it may be the result of not paying for the advertising, but who knows.
All I do know is that out of the seven positive reviews my shop has, none of them are printed. Of course, the review with the words "RIP OFF!" saying the shop commits "total robbery" is on the front page. If you want to read the filtered results, you have to type in those squiggly impossible-to-read letters, just so it is really inconvenient for anyone to see my positive reviews.
Was I the only one who had a bone to pick with Yelp? I started noticing other shops on aftermarket forum I frequent had the same issues with it:
All of the people quoted were contacted, but did not give permission to be named in the article.
One shop owner wrote the following:
Yelp is a scam, IMHO. We have negative reviews from South Carolina and California... Perhaps folks got the wrong shop where they got ripped off. Yelp has no verification. I got a phone call a few months ago from a "service" that would help me clear my name on Yelp. The phone call was 15 minutes after a negative review had been posted from California.
From 35 reviews, 33 [positive ones] are filtered.
Yet another shop owner observed:
I think giving money to websites like Yelp is not only throwing away good money, but subsidizes an industry made up of grifters who are making their living appealing to the worst instincts of the "consumer."
Another shop owner told this personal account:
The first bad review in Dec 2009 has no name on his review. That review shouldn't even be posted on there. For all we know that could be a competitor making a bogus false claim about, out of all things, his friend's car! The second review in June 2010 [was made] by a phone price shopper guy named Tim, [who] wasn't even a customer!!!!
There are many more just like this, but what's the point? It doesn't surprise me, because people have sued Yelp over it.
Similar to the previous complaints, this lawsuit filed by Boris Levitt, the owner of Renaissance Furniture Restoration in San Francisco, claims that Yelp's "unfair and unethical conduct in promoting, marketing and advertising its website as maintaining unbiased reviews" is unlawful and hurt his business. Levitt's suit is similar to the previous claims that Yelp is extorting businesses for advertising.
I think Yelp has to seriously reconsider how they do their marketing and filtering. If not, I don't believe many shops are going to use Yelp as a marketing tool.