Yelp is a Scam!

Posted by JW on 10th Jul 2019

May I get on my soap box for a moment—. Yelp is the biggest scam on the web. As a small business owner, you are concerned about social media to stay relevant for your company's success. Well, Yelp likes to sabotage that with what I call extortion.

Let me explain. Yelp creates a shell where they provide your company information online, and you have to "Claim it" to accurately provide your store hours and photos of your business, policies, etc. When you create an account and login to update the information they have about you, the promotion starts.

A crack sales team starts phoning you as soon as you login wanting you to buy advertising through Yelp. The sales people say it helps promote your business, keeps it more visible to consumers and they place you up at the top of the Yelp listings. Now if you do not spend money with them, you are not favored very well. You would like to think that the (Old Yellow pages company) would not be that devious but they are.

So now that you have a listing, anyone can create an email account and make comments on your business. These comments can come from virtually anyone whether or not he or she has even visited your business or used your services.

So the interesting part is if you have something negative to say and you decide to rate the company, you can give it a 1-5 stars. So Yelp, in its infinite wisdom, chooses to just show the negative 1 star unless you pay them to advertise. These are referred to by Yelp as "Recommend Reviews."

So here is the scenario, if a customer rates your company with a 3, 4, or 5 stars, these are referred to as ("Un-Recommended reviews"). These reviews disappear to the very bottom of the Yelp site in an obscure area, but the 1 and 2 star ratings get prominence.

I have watched this occur over a three-year period. Yelp emails you if your business gets a review. As a retailer, you can comment on the review if you like but are warned heavily by Yelp on what you should say or not say.

Now if we have an unhappy customer, we would like to address that as soon as possible to make sure we offer the best service and customer satisfaction as we can. If it is a good review, you can thank the customer with your response and let them know you appreciate their business. As the owner, I could login to my account and post a comment on a review but now that has changed.

Yelp lets you respond to that review ,but will not post it until you provide a headshot of yourself (a picture of the front of your store will not suffice) and get that approved by Yelp management. Then and only then you can post a comment. Why does Yelp need this?They just want to be difficult on small businesses, unless you pay to play.

Now if you do not provide that headshot, they will not allow you to respond  to any reviews. However, keep in mind if you want to make a negative comment about the business, they welcome those with open arms. All you need is an email address and no other proof that you purchased or even visited that business. Even your competition can say whatever they want.

Most people will not click the "Un-Recommended reviews" or even see where to do that on their site. Yelp hides that link and make you click through it at least 2-3 times to see any "3, 4 or 5 star” reviews. This tactic is truly unfair to thousands of small businesses who get treated this way by Yelp and in my opinion borders on illegal activity. Try Googling “Yelp scam” and see what I am talking about.

As a test, I have had a customer post a good comment and I advise them to give a one star and those magically appear at the top. If anyone gives 3, 4 or 5 star ratings, they might be on the  at the top for a day or two and then disappear into the Yelp black hole. After this happens, they reappear at the bottom of the "Un-Recommended" reviews section. This proves what Yelp does is not some "computer algorithm” like they claim.

We have many happy customers with hundreds of testimonials over our 26-year period on our site and a A+ with the Better Business Bureau. These are much more indicative of our record then what Yelp tries to undermine. Yelp has not only scammed my business, but it is detrimental to small business owners everywhere.