Thanks, but I don't need your Yelp! (How Yelp hurts small businesses and deceives consumers)

When doing a Google search for a business, you are likely to see a Yelp page link in the search results. Many people who use the internet are familiar with Yelp. The idea is great; let consumers rate businesses so that other consumers can make an informed decision. The problem is that this only works when the reviews are honest; however, the evidence shows that Yelp manipulates reviews, offers a fee to businesses to remove bad reviews, and Yelp removes good reviews so that more negative reviews appear. It is a scheme and consumers should be aware.

Yelp actually deletes positive reviews from the pages of businesses. In his blog “Think Yelp is Unbiased? Think Again!”, Jim Handy writes that he posted a positive review on the Yelp page of a business that he used and that Yelp removed the post. This actually is a common practice. Yelp removes good reviews so that more negative reviews appear. A Yelp sales representative will then call the business to tell them that those bad reviews can disappear for a price. It sounds absurd, but it is true. The East Bay Express in “Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0” details how numerous business owners have received calls from Yelp offering to remove reviews for a price. Unfortunately, many consumers are not aware of Yelp’s deceptive practices and are ultimately deceived when reading Yelp reviews.

Who is really writing the review? It is a good question. It could be a competitor, a person who is writing the review based off of third party sources, or a Yelp representative. Yes, some business owners believe that Yelp representatives have posted negative reviews on their pages. There really is no way to confirm the reliability of a person’s review. This is a problem because many consumers rely on these reviews when choosing a business. My advice is to read the reviews and to look at other reviews the person has posted. Some people are always negative, some positive, but at least it will help you when making a decision.

Yelp was meant to be a platform for posting business reviews by real people for real people, but the evidence says otherwise. Don’t let negative Yelp reviews deter you from trying out the services/products of a business, it may be unreliable. Yelp earns money by getting businesses to pay them to remove negative Yelp reviews, and Yelp needs negative reviews to get businesses to pay them. It is a revolving door and it ultimately harms the little guy. Small businesses do not have the name recognition that large brands have and bad Yelp reviews tarnish the good will of small businesses. It is deceptive to consumers and harms small businesses, especially those who are unwilling to pay Yelp to remove the review. Don’t be fooled by Yelp’s deceptive practices and frankly my advice is thanks, but no thanks to Yelp.

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