Monday, March 23, 2009
BEWARE: Yelp.com is a fraud!
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to call your attention to a very nefarious website called yelp.com, which you should avoid at all costs.
Yelp.com has gained sort of a cult following as some sort of a reputable site where you can supposedly see how people in your community have rated local businesses. Well, I can tell you from firsthand experience that yelp.com is NOT reputable and they are NOT honest. In fact, Yelp even has the nerve to give themselves the slogan "Real People, Real Reviews", when it is anything but real people & real reviews on their site.
I wrote 6 reviews on the yelp.com site about 6 local businesses that I did business with: 3 of them were positive reviews and 3 of them were negative reviews. My negative reviews were very thoughtfully & carefully written and did not violate any of Yelp's terms of services. One of my negative reviews, for example, was for a taxicab company which never showed up to pick me up from my apartment, even though I waited 60 extra minutes past the arrival time for them to come, and after calling the taxicab company 5 times to check on where they were. ("Just 5 more minutes, Mr. Rose.")
Within 60 days of posting my 3 negative reviews (for 3 different companies) to Yelp's website, all 3 of my negative reviews had been removed from the respective companies' profiles on the Yelp site. Interestingly enough, the negative reviews still show up FOR MY EYES ONLY in my personal & private profile when I log into the Yelp website, but they have miraculously been HIDDEN on the companies' pages themselves.
So I started asking around, and lo and behold, many of my friends who had written negative reviews for businesses started noticing the same thing: their negative reviews were still in their own personal profiles (for their eyes only), but their negative reviews were NOWHERE TO BE FOUND on the company pages in question.
This phenomenon is starting to get some national press, too, but not nearly enough of an outcry as there should be over this potentially criminal activity. Check out these 3 articles for starters:
Yet people are still just sort of shrugging this off, as if this is something that we should be okay turning our back on.
The Chicago Tribune article is particularly interesting, because it highlights that Yelp is blackmailing companies for BOTH removing negative reviews AND for posting positive reviews. EVERYBODY is getting FUCKED HERE -- the businesses AND the consumers! The only people not getting fucked are Yelp themselves!
So I emailed yelp.com and asked them about my reviews being removed... they only replied to my emails with a form letter directing me to the FAQ's on the site. I replied back several times, asking to have a conversation with a supervisor about this issue, and they continually replied with form letters directing me to the FAQ's on their site. After trying to make live human contact with yelp.com on 5 separate occasions, I finally gave up.
I started bitching about this enough that a friend of mine told me that his business is on yelp.com. He told me that shortly after signing up for yelp.com, he got a call from the folks at yelp who offered him a deal that he just couldn't refuse. If he paid yelp.com a reasonable sum to advertise his company on their website, then yelp.com would suppress all negative reviews about his business. Sounds like Yelp has figured out a good little moneymaking business on the side, huh? And this explains why some negative reviews appear on the site for SOME companies, but not for other companies. Those companies who allow the negative reviews to show up about their own business are the ones who are truly the more honest & upstanding companies... because they didn't pay to have them suppressed. My friend also told me that he is allowed by yelp.com to write an unlimited number of positive reviews about his own company, under multiple identities, without suppression.
Pretty shady stuff, huh?
So, folks, I urge you to NEVER go to yelp.com and NEVER support this fraudulent, criminal website which pretends to be something that it is not.
Instead, I encourage you to use Citysearch.com instead, where I have not encountered these same problems. Citysearch.com actually DOES seem to have "real reviews by real people."