Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So Long Yelp

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When I'm in a new city or town and hungry I often rely on Trip Advisor for advice on where to eat.  Unfortunately their format is such that new restaurants are often not featured...yet.  So I also go to Yelp or UrbanSpoon to quickly find out what's good and close to my location.  However lately I've been hearing complaints.  From both businesses and contributors.

Friends of mine who own a business in the B/CS area have complained that all of the yelp reviews for their business are negative.  They've been told by clients that positive reviews have been filtered or just removed entirely.  That's just bizarre.  True enough, if you go to this business's Google profile it's overwhelmingly positive.  But overwhelmingly negative on Yelp.  They've tried to correct things with Yelp and have been told that they need to pay some advertising fee to do so.  Well, that's strange and leads me to question the validity of Yelp reviews. My friends don't own a restaurant, but the experiences decribed here agree with what my friends have said.

This statement is particularly telling and 100% agrees with what my friends have said: "Over the past year, I have attempted to get some clarity and assistance from Yelp. I have had no success except that its sales staff has repeatedly advised that if we would only advertise with them, they could “help us.”  We believe that is extortion."  

Yelp responded to the author of the article linked.  But the length of time this has been going on and the number of complaints cannot be ignored.

People are talking about this.  There's even a Save Us From Yelp group online to vent some steam and show the scale of what's happening.  Some are outright calling Yelp a scam.  One thing I can about them is that there have been official complaints about their products and services reported to the BBB, of which they are a member.  So, please, if you feel they are extorting your business, take it up with the BBB to at least get some attempt at resolution. 

And to make matters worse, Yelp seems to have an issue with maintaining their own community of commenters. This was detailed very well by MisoHungry.

Real reviews by real people?  Hrm.  Maybe, but it seems someone else is filtering exactly what real users see.  And taking advantage of people to write free content that will later be filtered to say something very different from reality.

So what's a foodie to do?  I've been with TripAdvisor for years and intend on sticking with them, even with their imperfections.  They've helped me tremendously with many vacation and conference trips.  For more up-to-date food information, though, I'm dropping Yelp and switching to UrbanSpoon.  It's not perfect, but at least it's not attempting to extort businesses in exchange for positive reviews.

[Images from a Google Image search]

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