Friday, March 27, 2009

BEWARE: Yelp.com is a fraud!

http://scottworldblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/beware-yelpcom-is-fraud.html

Monday, March 23, 2009
BEWARE: Yelp.com is a fraud!
Scott Rose

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:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/technology/chi-0309-yelpmar09,0,3536868.story

http://apnews.excite.com/article/20090322/D9736TQG1.html

http://tinyurl.com/dfqazw

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."

23 comments:

jansenn said...

I love what you wrote. There is this horrible dog trainer that injured my dog. He changes how he spells his name and the name of his business. I wanted everyone on YELP to know about him. There were other bad reviews besides mine. Then one day several of the bad revieiws disappeared and suddenly there were several 5 star reviews. Interestingly enough these "reviewers" had all signed up for YELP on the same day and all only had one other review. I pointed out that these reviews were likely from the business owner. Did they do anything about the fake reviews? No. They just take down the legitimate negative reviews that can help the consumer. I will no longer be a part of the fraud that YELP is committing. Thanks for the City Search Suggestion.

My name is Hydroplaning on Excuses said...

You are completely correct. Thank you for writing about Yelp's fraudulent nature. I too wrote multiple positive and negative reviews and found that my negative reviews for a beauty parlor, Threads, disappeared.

I will try CitiSearch

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Tony said...

I absolutely agree. Yelp is absolute fraud. There are many lawsuits against them for extortion of businesses. I wrote several reviews on businesses and I noticed legitimate bad reviews of some businesses were taken out (claiming it was auto bot to avoid spam ..WTF!!! ) and I was just explaining in a reasonable way my experience of the business and what I faced! Obviously they removed bad reviews if the busisses are paying them for advertisements

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DavidBell144 said...

Let me start by saying that I am a business owner and whose business is obviously listed on http://Yelp.com. We had good & bad reviews as any other place, but more good ones, total of 47 reviews sine we've been in the business for over 6 years.
Couple of months ago I got a phone call from a http://Yelp.com sales representative (whose name was Mathew) offering me to advertise on http://Yelp.com for about $300 per week, which I of course declined. A couple of days later http://yelp.com removed 42 of my companies' reviews!!! Leaving us with only bad reviews...this type of activity is clearly fraudulent so please sway away from http://yelp.com!!!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Sorry for the stupid question. What is the best search engine http://google.com or http://yahoo.com?

Stevan said...

Scott, excellent article! As a reviewer (only once), I noticed what you wrote about is completely true. Maybe you can answer a question? How (or why) does a business appear on Yelp? Do they sign up or does Yelp go through a business directory and just put them there?

Anonymous said...

Take it from me. I was a FORMER ELITE YELPER. Yelp is infested with self-righteous, "it's all about me" 20's to mid 30 year old wanabe professional reviewers. The more reviews I read, the more disgusted I became at the increasing level of self-entitlement these reviewers portrayed. The elite (of which i was a part of) had a mob-mentality and were the biggest bullies of businesses and to fellow yelpers.

They have these yelp zombies competing for "first to review" badges, review of the day (ROTD), FUCs, "check ins", aiming for compliments from other yelpers, & elite badges. How honest can a review really be when it's one big popularity contest? I never wished to be a part of it. If I did, I would have altered my reviews to receive the most "funny", "useful" or "cool" votes and changed all my pictures to me in a bikini with my ass and boobs sticking out. It's a f*cking popularity contest with fake reviews sh*tted all over the place.

Yelpers give businesses one stars because there was too much ice in their water, the "decor" wasn't pretty enough for them, or the waiter who was handling 10 tables took 5 minutes to take their order. MOST of the yelpers, and ESPECIALLY the elites, all they do is just BITCH, BITCH, BITCH. They hurt small businesses because they think they are entitled to the world.

The FINAL straw: I posted an HONEST one-star review about Yelp for many reasons. Subsequently, I was sent a NASTY and THREATENING email from the community manager saying that because i gave yelp a one-star (and rightfully so), they would strip me of my elite badge. I immediately closed my account.

Really? the elite badge revoked because i was a REAL person with a REAL review of yelp?? Oh, the irony.

Someday I hope Yelp goes under...

cheapest viagra said...

Thank you! I didn't know they picked up on it until I saw your comment.

Jennifer Paine said...

Yelp is a joke and a fraud. My personal experiences both with my employer and my reviews (when I actually believed in Yelp) have all been filtered. Unless, of course, it was a negative review for my company, than it was proudly posted for all to see. Sorry Yelp, I don't want to pay your extortion fees.

I hate yelp so much that I created a page to unite people against yelp. Join me and others in our fight, Yelp Fraud. We hope to see you there.

Remember, Yelp is a Four Letter Word!

Jennifer Paine said...

Yelp is a joke and a fraud. My personal experiences both with my employer and my reviews (when I actually believed in Yelp) have all been filtered. Unless, of course, it was a negative review for my company, than it was proudly posted for all to see. Sorry Yelp, I don't want to pay your extortion fees.

I hate yelp so much that I created a page to unite people against yelp. Join me and others in our fight, Yelp Fraud. We hope to see you there.

Remember, Yelp is a Four Letter Word!

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JTK said...

I personally listened to a conversation between my boss and someone from YELP. They said that if he paid $400.00 a month any bad reviews would disappear after 24 hours, the same with good reviews if he did not pay them. I tested this and it really happened with a good review

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