Bad News for Yelp and an Alternative to the Review Platform
Yelp doesn’t show all reviews equally, and customer service can be a pain, but there is more bad news for Yelp where that comes from. If Yelp isn’t doing its job, what does that mean for your restaurant? And are there even more concerning reasons to yelp about Yelp? Is Yelp even fair?
More Bad News for Yelp
If Yelp isn’t doing its job, what does that mean for your restaurant?
One of the biggest problems with Yelp today is its filtering system. Yelp does not show all reviews equally but will hide reviews from reviewers that don’t meet certain criteria, including frequency of posting and geographic location. This can make it especially difficult for new businesses to get off the ground since accruing reviews from customers includes a number of people brand new to reviews. New reviewers (and new customers) can get “hidden,” and thus sorted out of your star quota entirely, even if you have very few reviews to begin with.
Yelp defends its filter system by claiming that it keeps your reviews free of clutter and keeps your stars unsullied by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, it’s hard to measure by algorithm alone what constitutes a “legitimate” or desirable review. And Yelp doesn’t yet have a more human method of sorting in place.
But that’s not all the bad news for Yelp. In addition, Yelp can be slow or hesitant to remove fake reviews, and businesses can find it difficult to get the customer service they need when they feel misrepresented. Yelp has also had persistent legal trouble and is now taking strides to defend its image.
Is Yelp helpful? Is it doing its job?
Yelp not doing its job, and how it affects you
More bad news for Yelp comes from the Federal Trade Commission that has received over 2,000 complaints about Yelp. But the rabbit hole goes even deeper. Companies and shareholders have both filed lawsuits on the accusation of Yelp using bribery, threats, and pressure to get users to purchase advertising and thus increase profit unfairly. For example, companies have complained that Yelp will offer to take down bad reviews if clients will purchase ads, or threaten to remove positive comments if companies don’t respond positively to pressure from Yelp.
There is also a question hanging in the air about whether Yelp employees ever write favorable or unfavorable reviews for businesses in order to tip the scales.
Fake reviews and hidden positive reviews can hurt business as much as bad reviews. And a lack of good faith on the world’s biggest public review platform means your reviews could be subject to manipulation. The main question people have about Yelp today is, does its review platform accurately represent my restaurant?
Many restaurants are saying, No. It does not.
More than not doing its job
While Yelp has so far succeeded in defending itself in the courtroom, the bad news for Yelp doesn’t end there. The media or the online community remains critical. There is an entire website, Yelp-sucks.com, where irritated former customers come out about trouble they’ve had with Yelp. But be sure to spell the web address correctly and include the dash! If you type “Yelpsucks.com” in a search bar or in a Google search bar, you are automatically and directly sent, not to search results, but to a Yelp-sponsored page, on which Yelp defends itself against accusations of harming small business.
Fair enough to defend yourself. But when does defending yourself turn into controlling the playing field?
On the other hand, many official investigations have turned up results in Yelp’s favor, and complaints haven’t made any legal advance. The fact is, people post on Yelp. So, you will likely need to engage Yelp whether you want to or not. It may also be worth reading what they have to say in their defense. However, this doesn’t mean relying on Yelp doesn’t still put you on tricky ground.
Business owners are still voicing consistent strong complaints regardless of research or the status of lawsuits. There are also countless reports of poor customer service. Whether or not this trouble has been intentional on Yelp’s part, some major flaw remains in the system and has to be reckoned with.
Yelp’s weaknesses, at best, and at worst its malfeasance, have become so well known that the popular comedy South Park lampooned it in 2015 in an episode called, “You’re Not Yelping,” in which Yelping diners try to manipulate restaurants into giving them special treatment by threatening negative Yelp reviews.
South Park is a satire, but the main problem it reveals is not imaginary. The main issue is this: Yelp reviews wield a lot of power, deserved or not. And Yelp’s “recommendation software” does give precedent to reviews from frequent reviewers and “foodies,” to the exclusion of the reviews of others who don’t fit the software’s criteria.
Public criticism has gotten a little more serious in recent years with the production of the documentary, Billion Dollar Bully. The movie seeks to expose the flaws in the Yelp system and to reveal how certain Yelp users have perceived Yelp as a threat to their business.
Wherever you fall on the Yelp spectrum, we’re sure you want your reviews as fair and democratic as possible. You need to know that you and your competition are both on a level playing field and that you can gain the reviews and attention you deserve.
Original Review’s online rating system funnels directly from your in-house review platform, and we don’t hide them, remove them, or boost them. How you respond to your customer’s genuine feedback is 100% in your hands. For a free demo, visit our website.