Yelp is a popular online review site that allows customers to leave their own personal reviews on restaurants. Many customers have turned to Yelp to not only write their own reviews but to read the reviews of other users in order to decide where to eat.
But while Yelp seems like it could be a big help to your next dining decision, the popular review site is currently under fire.
Back in January 2013, over 700 complaints filed with the FTC about Yelp were made public, and here’s what some of those complaints discuss.
Yelp blocks positive reviews.
Many business owners have claimed that Yelp removes positive reviews on their business and only allows the negative ones to come through. These negative reviews have a negative effect on the company’s overall rating, and business owners are upset. Some owners don’t know why Yelp could benefit from keeping these positive reviews from showing, and others feel as if Yelp uses it as a way to blackmail their users.
Yelp blackmails businesses.
Many businesses have come forward and said that they received emails or phone calls from Yelp claiming that they would remove negative reviews on the company’s page in exchange for the company buying advertising on the site. On Yelp’s website, they claim that they do not remove reviews for any reason other than if it can be proven they were fake, but many companies are saying otherwise.
Yelp harasses businesses.
Yelp has sales people that contact businesses to see if they want to purchase advertising on the site. Many businesses have claimed that these sales people harass them on a regular basis, even after the company has told them they were not interested in buying ad space or asking the sales rep to stop calling. Some of these sales reps have also been accused of promising to remove negative reviews in exchange for their ad space purchase.
Yelp leaves libelous material on their site.
There are companies and individuals out there that write fake reviews on businesses, and sometimes this information is completely wrong and libelous. Unfortunately, the only thing that a business owner can do is to contact Yelp and ask for the review to be removed, but Yelp has a strict policy, and unless it can be proven that the review was fake, they will keep it up there. Many restaurant owners are upset because severe damage has been done to their business, and Yelp will not do anything to remove them.
Yelp encourages fake reviews.
As a reviewer, you have the ability to join Yelp’s VIP club. As long as you write a certain number of reviews every month, you can become a member of their VIP, and this will provide you with special private parties and other perks. Since most people don’t eat out all day every day, many individuals are writing fake reviews on businesses just to become a Yelp VIP member and enjoy these perks.
All of these complaints against Yelp are currently being investigated. Maybe they’re true, maybe they’re not, but the public will certainly know soon once the investigation is over.
Joshua Reynolds is a reviews tracker and reputation manager. He enjoys sharing information pertaining to business reviews and blogging.