Are You Causing Your Own Reputation Problems?

It’s no secret, I love Yelp, and have been an active Yelper since April of 2008.  I was reading a discussion on my local Yelp thread today about about a business going in and creating 9 different profiles, and submitting the same company (a computer repair service company – my guess was his) a 5 star review on each one.  I get it, you want to try and game the system, figure out how to push the boundaries … but cmon’ that’s just damn stupid! Not only did the accounts all get removed and banned from Yelp, but the business then proceeded to get real reviews, (for doing so) from real – active Yelpers – and trust me … they are not good.   In less then a day, this idiot business owner has created himself a reputation management nightmare that will be very hard to overcome.  Yelp ranks well, as he obviously knew, but what he failed to understand is why it ranks so well (much trust), and how the community works.  These negative nasty reviews on his business listing (the real one finally – haha) will probably rank above his website, or close to it, and guess what?  It’s always going to be there! Check out the sad screen-shot of this dudes Yelp Listing as of today: It is not my intent to call any one out in this post, I am simply using this as a teaching opportunity.  (I just didn’t feel right putting their contact info all our in the open, or the Yelpers slamming them, so that is why I blacked it out.  I am sure if you really want to find out, you can!)  So far, they have 3 reviews, and are all one star and negative because of how they tried to spam Yelp, and guess what?  This page is going to rank well on Google FOR THEIR BUSINESS NAME, and forever haunt them!
Reputation Management Nightmare
Yelp Reviews Slamming This Business
The moral of the story ladies and gentlemen? When it comes to reviews, reputation management and Yelp? – Don’t be an idiot like this spammer!  The community does a really good job of weeding this stuff out (and policing – as you can see), and an even better job when you make it as obvious as this user did.  The Yelp community does not make it a point to go and leave negative reviews for a person who just doesn’t know better, but when someone is as blatant as this spammer was – they will react, and you will end up with a reputation nightmare on Yelp, AND Google! If you have a business and you want it on Yelp, go fill out the Yelp for business and let the reviews come naturally.  They will, and if you focus on running a good ethical business and taking care of people, then you need not worry about what people will say.  They will take care of you in communities like this, trust me!

63 thoughts on “Are You Causing Your Own Reputation Problems?

  1. dominiq says:

    The problem with system like Yelp is that they are centralized then subject to “lobbying” or even more, open to biais towards the one who pay.

    I don’t trust Yelp.I don’t trust centralized community sites (like Ideastorm).
    Reviews from people on their blog (as long as they have to disclose whether they are doing paid reviews) are to me much more accurate.

  2. Mat Siltala says:

    nice try … they never remove reviews (unless spam) and a business owner can pay for the review they like to be “sponsored” which will show up first (labeled as a sponsored review) all disclosed … not biased … any business owner can do this. But all reviews will be left – even negative ones) I have been Yelping for almost two years now and it has led me to some amazing places.

    I think what you are describing are sites like ROR … a true lobbied and biased site.

    I also don’t mind paid blog posts either (and agree with you), but to have a system that is all in one place (like Yelp) – and even better an app right in the palm of my hand – even better.

    I appreciate you stopping by and leaving your two cents though!

  3. Dataflurry says:

    LOL, that is crazy. Some people don’t think things through and always try to take the short cut to success.. Long term success always happens by providing a good product or service and being honest and reliable in everything you do.

  4. summer says:

    I had so many problems because of one star review that I gave to a dentist. What I wrote wasn’t even bad or offensive. The dentist ended up giving my full name on the Yelp Talk. His lawyer sent me a threatening and intimidating letter asking me to remove my review. I think he sent a letter to Yelp too because Yelp instead removed his reviews from his pages. It was a feeling of being hugged by Yelp, feeling understood. I am so thankful to Yelp. The lawyer then offered me $2.000 and I stood my grounds. There is no money to pay for my right to use the first amendment. The country that I came from does not allow to talk in public about a bad experience with the medical field so I truly value the free speech here.
    Anyway not accepting the money made the lawyer threat me with suing me for emotional damage. He knows he is not able to sue me for slander as I am speaking the truth.
    Yelp I am grateful to you.

  5. mainlandheathen says:

    Yelp has to be the biggest trash site on the web. It is usually a very cliquish site withing the city you Yelp in. I placed hundred of reviews and pictures on Yelp and kept getting repeatly banned for what seemed like no reason. All Yelp support would tell me was due to multiple accounts. Which I only had one account going at a time and would start up a new Yelp account when they deleted the previous one. Edgar from Yelp in email told me I am banned from Yelp for life. They now have my ISP blocked out. Yelp is RETARDED and the RAG of the internet!

  6. Robert says:

    Ah! Thank you for posting this!| There have been a mass of different
    info blogged about, this dispells, puts to rest
    some of what I’ve seen.

  7. minsha says:

    @Mat Siltala – they “never remove reviews”?? Really?? I’ve been trying to honestly Yelp for months (not a heavy user, though, just don’t have time for it) and have yet to have a review that didn’t get removed. It’s very frustrating, because it can be hard for vegetarians and vegans to find reliable information about where to eat, so I wanted to share my experiences as I’ve traveled to different places. I have reviews of restaurants in New York, Asheville NC, Denver, and Las Vegas – and all of them have been removed.

  8. Robert Dall says:

    I’d checked out Urban Spoon. They are a lot more transparent and I really like their iPhone app.

    I don’t work for Urban Spoon, I just really like their site.


    Robert Dall
    “And the coffee blogger banned by yelp”

  9. Gerry Lewarne says:

    I am still on the doubter’s side with Yelp. We are on the site as a business and have five reviews, all relatively negative for standard reasons (don’t like our price, think we have bad CS because we do not give money back after the item is used, etc). About 99% of our clients like us and occasionally ask how they can help. We suggest they Yelp!.
    So last week we finally get a good review and 2 days later it disappears. Meanwhile one of competitors with a whole bunch of bad reviews (clients called the police! etc) has had all those reviews disappear – what a surprise!
    We think Yelp is being manipulated – I do not believe in robot filters.
    In the meantime, we keep trying as hard as we can to give great customer service and great product at great prices. Oh well I guess this piece of technology has to be ignored

  10. Mat Siltala says:

    @Gerry Lewarne

    I hear ya and I have talked to the “powers that be” at Yelp on numerous occasions about this very thing. They believe in their filters and feel they have a good control over people gaming the system. I really doubt it will get much better until they do a better job at listening to people like you and other small business owners that have had some obvious issues. On the other hand, look at the issues people are having with your business and see if there is something that you can do to solve the problems that users are having. Look at is as an opportunity to grow and get better. If you flag reviews that are obvious fake (or competitiors jacking you) and you keep flagging them, and get others to flag them – they will have no choice but to take a look. That’s my .02

  11. MG S. says:

    Yelp allows postings that should not be there. In spite of their policy, I notice cemments contaning personal attacks and defamation and obvious as such, but prevailing on yelp.
    I had posted about a business I like and had a long and detailed post there. Yelp pulled it out. Other posts were quite supportive of that business as well.
    One person didn’t like the owner’s background who was born in a different country and guess which post comes up when you do a search on the company name? All the other posts are gone, which were put there by actual clients of that company, including yours truly…If somebody is out to get someone, their competiton, disgruntled employee or simply someone who can’t retain the business for financial reason and wants everything for free, that individual will likely be posting on Yelp.. They could make defamatory comments because they are resentful or unable to afford the services offered or they simply own a competitive business. They will prevail on yelp as they will look more like an actual comment than REAL clients of the business’s who want to support good people and a great company by posting their actual experience. Very stupid system, they should let all the posts show and let consumers sort it out. Hatred and slander ususally is what it smells like it is… However good comments should all be allowed to list in searches as well. yelp you suck!

  12. Mat Siltala says:

    @MG S.
    You make a lot of valid points here, and your issues with Yelp are not unique. My suggestion would be to “flag reviews” that you KNOW are of HATE, FROM A COMPETITOR, OBVIOUS SLANDER” and document it, Take screenshots of it, and do your due dilligence in taking the bull by the horn and stopping it. If you do all that YELP is BOUND to listen to you, and if they don’t, you may actually have a good case. Again, just my .02

  13. A Jaijee says:

    Not sure of their filter. I wrote my first review, and lo and behold it ended up being filtered. Oddly, out of 11 reviews for this particular Hair Salon & Spa, 5 were filtered and I can’t see why. Any explanations?
    I don’t see why I should invite friends and or waste my time writing a review, for it to end up being filtered.

    I personally think there is more to it, Right Jeremy!

  14. Deanna says:

    While I am happy that prospective clients can access reviews on my services and my salon, I am puzzled by Yelp and their policies. We have many positive reviews and a very few negative reviews. The few negative reviews are years old and yet they continue to appear on this site. In our salon, the stylists operate their own business. Stylists who don’t serve their clients well or perform below standard are encouraged to move on. It’s disappointing to check our rating and find it still reflecting complaints about people who are no longer with us, and clients of disgruntled former stylists still slandering our salon. It is also disheartening to see more current reviews being “filtered” and ancient and irrelevent reviews being in the forefront. I am looking forward to the day that Yelp creates a “filter” that more realistically portrays the current service we provide!

    • Mat Siltala says:

      Deanna, just got some additional feedback from Yelp: Good feedback. What I’d suggest is that if this business hasn’t already, we’d encourage them to claim their free tools. Via those they can respond to comments publicly and privately and let yelpers and readers know that specific stylists have moved on and share insight about new staff in the “About Us” section. That would also be a good place to share insight into how their salon operates (ie: independent contractors)

  15. Eddy says:

    This post brings up another problem then. As we have seen the dramatic effects spamming competitors and writing fake positive reviews has, what if a COMPETING company pretends to be you and spams YOUR company information all over Yelp and writes a bunch of obviously fake positive reviews on YOUR Yelp page?

  16. Mat Siltala says:

    Two things – Yelp will most of the time catch it and nuke it & it’s another good reason to be monitoring your brand to not let that happen.

    I have found that when you contact Yelp about abuse, they are really good at helping out. I have several contacts there and if you have issues I can see if I can help.

  17. Eddy says:

    Oh nothing of this sort really happened to me, I was just curious as to whether there was any way to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

    Yelp seems to do a great job at removing all the spam and fake positive reviews created by “you” (but actually created by the competing company), but what about the negative reviews that you (the victim company) would receive in the aftermath by angry users? Without some sort of definitive verification for each user signing up for Yelp, it would be impossible for Yelp to react correctly in this situation.

  18. Mat Siltala says:

    I hear ya, but if you take a look at the Google reviews …. more of them are crappy & spammy than Yelp – I think this is the day and age of fighting spam … no matter what – and there is no way around it. But I also think its easier to spot the real ones from sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook Places, GoWalla etc. the communities that use them are pretty good at policing.

  19. y says:

    I wrote a positive review about the Lenscrafters on beverly blvd in los angeles and it got filtered..bullsh*t, because I had a great experience with this Lenscrafters and all these other people wrote negative reviews. It really pisses me off that all I was trying to do was help out a business that provided me with good service…..their rating is low and I can’t even put in my two cents to raise it? Makes me think twice about writing on yelp…I rarely write a review on yelp because I am only moved to write reviews when I feel passionate about something…I am going to delete my yelp account because they’ve taken my first amendment and flushed it down the drain. I even tried editing it for whatever reason I thought might have gotten the review removed(still not sure why) Is it because I don’t feel comfortable sharing my personal information(full name with strangers? or WHAT?? I don’t know). So very disappointed.

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  21. BruceS says:

    I had thought it would be a good use of my time to create a Yelp account and write reviews of businesses I’ve dealt with. Reading through all this, and taking the time to read through the coffeevancouver post and eastbayexpress article, I’m not so sure. It sounds like Yelp engages in a *lot* of unethical behavior (extortion being prevalent), and removes reviews without giving any reason. My thanks to those who have taken the time to post about this. If Yelp can’t behave in an ethical manner, I’ll just have to find a better place to post reviews. Is Urban Spoon really any better? I hadn’t even heard of them before reading these comments.

  22. Tess says:

    When you hear of a review company getting SUED like YELP this tells you the trouble they are having within the business community and they are unethical. Who gets sued over reviews…only YELP and they have class action lawsuit against them for the unethical way they run this company. I give them a year which is why they have to head to other countries and they’ll get sued there too.

  23. roger says:

    i just found out my review has been filtered too. i spent time writing that, feel kinda cheated. how do i prove that i’m a real person?

  24. zak says:

    Our new business had 5 reviews, and two have been filtered. Pretty disheartening. It’s not like we wrote them ourselves, they were just normal customer reviews.

  25. Carolyn Seeger says:

    This hidden review system has made most of the 5 star reviews, from very satisfied customers, not show up on my site. It’s really too bad that the 6 or 7 reviews from very satisfied clients aren’t rated or there for the public or other potential clients to see.
    It’s not an accurate rating of all of the customers, truyl it’s not. I din’t ask have AAG rated or reviewed by any clients. No reviews were written by us. Tooooooo bad because Yelp seems, because of the filter, no to give a true picture of the company.

  26. Allen says:

    One possible lesson here is that if you want to slam one of your competitors, you can do so indirectly by creating a bunch of obvious profiles that blatantly shill your competitor’s business profile on yelp. Not only will Yelp eventually filter out those reviews, you’ll then be able to convince yelpers that your competitor is a low-life scum bag and post negative reviews of them for you.

  27. Joe says:

    My business has 70+ 5-star reviews, all earned with very hard work and sacrifices by myself and my family. Yelp shows 7 of them (also, our 1 “bad” one seems to permanently stick). In my frustration-fueled research, I have found no other listing with such a percentage filtered. Read them (718 Cyclery in Brooklyn, NY), and tell me they are shills or my 70+ brothers-in-law.

    Yelp says the err on the side of the consumer with their filter (their own words), then why do they keep asking me to advertise? Maybe if they erred on the side of the small business owners busting their butts, I would consider it.

    Dont get me started on this one-way review culture…are these people also living review-able 5-star lives? I think if you are going to review someone’s business (who works their ass off and sacrifices to make it happen), you too need to have some accountability and be review-able yourself.

    • someone says:

      …except that if you are a jackass and treat your customers like crap, people deserve to know about that so they can make an informed decsision to avoid your stupid restaurant.

    • scarpen8 says:

      No one is giving me money for a service or good. Therefore my life is not reviewable on yelp. Don’t want bad reviews? 2 choices: 1. Close your business or 2. Do a better job keeping your customers happy.

  28. Nabil says:

    That guy (and his company) got freaking owned.

    I love the power we consumers have thanks to social media and the web.

    And oh, I can’t seem to find out what the company is named. I wanna know so I can do a google search for it and see if the page ranks above their own website or not 🙂

  29. Elliot Pearson says:

    I think the best way to promote real reviews is whenever a customer is very complementary about the product or service to then give them a piece of paper with links to several review sites where my business is listed and simply tell them I would appreciate it of they would write the same think in a review as they just said to me. A simple honest request without trying to buy their vote or game the system

  30. Kristen B. says:

    Yelp is a good site where anyone could find reviews of the establishment before trying it for themselves. Unfortunately, I remember that some people are affected with the bad reviews and some of them even sued the reviewers who gave them bad reviews. I just hope that the consumers will use this review site responsibly and it wouldn’t be abused in one way or another.

  31. Traci says:

    Perhaps Yelp needs to do more work on the algorithm they use to decide which reviews should be filtered. When I’ve looked at reviews that were filtered, more than half of them appear to be perfectly valid reviews. In fact, a few of them were somewhat critical – with 1-star or 3-star ratings, all extremely well-reasoned and none appearing false or fictitious. Perhaps simply erring in what is believed to be a safe direction isn’t sufficient. Given the number of disgruntled former Yelp reviewers, I have to wonder if Yelp hasn’t introduced an entirely new source of bias into their system – albeit inadvertently. I’d be happy to refer a few statisticians.

    • bluegirlredstate says:

      Exactly. What incentive is there for Yelpers to take their time crafting a review when it will just be considered fake?

  32. Eric Blair says:

    As some of the commenters have noted, there is a major and growing problem with the filtering system used by Yelp. I speak from my own experience: I recently joined Yelp and posted over a week’s time five honest reviews – places I actually went to in my town, gave my honest impressions in concise, civil language. My reviews varied:I found some places good, others, not so, etc. I have no professional relationship with any of them(other than having been a customer). Each of the five reviews were gone within two days of their being posted. Don’t tell me something isn’t wrong or repeat that the system is of course “not perfect.” Statistically extrapolating from my experience,one can conclude that thousands of honest reviews are disappearing and that conversely, a great number of false ones are being – and staying – posted, which means that either the filtering mechanism is deeply flawed or that something else is going on. I now do not trust or use Yelp. In this I am not alone.

    • CSTX says:

      Yeah, they just started doing this same crap to me. I have left honest, well-written reviews of numerous restaurants and other local businesses and they have filtered all my negative reviews.

      Forget it — they don’t want my reviews, fine. The businesses I slammed will go out of business all by themselves because they are THAT BAD.

      • EricV says:

        It’s even worse for businesses.
        We have 14 honest reviews, which are a mix of 4 and 5 stars. All of them are filtered, and our profile page has a link to a competitor highlighted in yellow.
        Pretty upsetting.

        • bluegirlredstate says:

          For just $900 you can pay to upgrade your listing and have the competitor’s ad removed. Generous of them, isn’t it?

    • bluegirlredstate says:

      I manage an account that has more reviews hidden than shown, and as a Yelper myself, about 1/3 of my reviews are not shown. The reviews for my business are 100% real, unsolicited, from established accounts with photos, connections and other reviews. The algorithm is a joke.

  33. Vivian says:

    I have just had my first and very thorough lesson on Yelp filtering. While learning not much from Yelp’s explanation of their “robot” method, I learned a whole lot from the comments. One of my student’s parents was so proud of taking the time to comment about my helping her son progress from D’s to A’s and keeps asking if I’ve seen her review. I feel so badly that it was filtered — more for her than for me. Who made these filters??? And yet, there is a negative review that is obviously fake because she says she had her son in my program for a year and it “didn’t do much good” — I only have a month-to-month program. Why would she stay a year — and of course, not give her name or reply to me. I am glad I’ve resisted Yelp’s urgings to advertise — I think we need a better oversight for legitimate vs fake postings before I give any money to Yelp.

  34. R. W. says:

    Mine, too. I must be criticizing businesses that pay Yelp. I have no confidence in their system, as it’s obviously designed to promote those who give them money. I’ll probably get blocked, now.

  35. James says:

    I agree that their filtering sistym is not all what its cracked up to be. That said; what about those comment-rating buttons below each review? I can understand what “usefull” means. But “funny” and “cool”? Those designations are just plain stupid and meaningless. Even something as simple as “usefull”, “somewhat usefull” & “not very usefull” would be so much better than those idiotic “funny” and “cool” buttons. Some reviews seam so harsh while complain about something petty, for example, that I would gladly click on the “sounds like a grump” button… if they had a “grump” button. Yelp,please replace those meaningless buttons with something more “usefull”.

  36. James says:

    Hello Mat. I just posted a suggestion about those review buttons but forgot to ask you about “flag” I don’t see anything where a business can “flag” any particular review. I see were anyone can flag a public response that a business owner make in reply to a review, but nothing were a business can even suggest that a reviewer is bogus,slanderous, etc. I can’t even figure out how to contact yel to tell them that a certain reviewer was not my client even thogh he claims to be on Yelp.

  37. Emily says:

    “Some reviews seam so harsh while complain about something petty, for example, that I would gladly click on the “sounds like a grump” button… if they had a “grump” button.”

    Yelpers typically rate a review as “funny” when someone seems to be overreacting about a petty problem.

  38. Filter Me says:

    I keep reading that the Yelp “community” does a “good job” of policing itself… How so? A user wrote what I feel is a slanderous review of my services (that I busted my ass to provide – at a DEEPLY discounted price, too, thanks to another BLACK HOLE of the web, GROUPON), and from what I’ve seen of the way Yelp HORDES UP those negative reviews while it blows off the positive, who is going to argue with her? *I* can’t because then I’m just promoting my own business. So, are my clients, who provided an honestly decent review but got summarily dismissed BY YELP, going to waste MORE of their time coming back to my profile to do whatever it is that they can do to weed out OBVIOUS SHILL??? It’s true: I offer discounts to truly satisfied clients who will write an honest review on Yelp – not that it helps, since those reviews are nice and good and, hence, “filtered”. If I knew how to offer FREE services to truly satisfied clients who would come here and “police” out the crap, I WOULD! Thank you Yelp for keeping small business down!

  39. Erika says:

    They put all of my reviews into filtered! And I’m an honest customer trying to shine some light on some of the awful experiences I’ve had at restaurants and businesses. I don’t understand why???

  40. Dooshe Nozzle says:

    Reviews are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you cannot allow positive reviews that are quite obviously fake; exactly how obvious it is, well, that’s a subjective decision that Yelp makes under the guise of its filtering system. But on the flip side, for a truly balanced review system, you also cannot condone fake 1-star ratings from people who have not used the business.

    The people who slammed this guy on Yelp because of his actions on Yelp are no better than the business owner himself for trying to submit fake 5-star reviews. For all intents and purposes, they created fake reviews. They were slamming the business owner for his practices on Yelp, rather than reviewing the services he offers, which is the review system’s purpose.

    What happened here is essentially vigilantism, and that should never be the solution.

  41. iitywybad says:

    I’m confused as to why my recent review of Kraverz in Menomonee Falls was filtered. I’ve been a regular customer since right after they opened and wrote a nice review about the quality of their food and service. My posting was by DanielH Milwaukee. I have tried most of their foods and my son and I pick up one of their salads EVERY day. They are good, fillings, and healthy – we have both lost several pounds. Yelp is useless unless they allow legitimate customers to post their comments. I will not be using Yelp again.

  42. scarpen8 says:

    Yelp is garbage. Looking at some of the businesses I notice all 5 star reviews. Go to the filtered reviews, and there are 3 times as many with no 5 star reviews. They are legitimate reviews but appear to be filtered since they were less than 5 stars. I have attempted to leave legit negative reviews before and ALL have been filtered. Yelp gets money from advertisers and refuses to post any review that is less than exemplary. Yelp is a just for advertisement purposes while claiming to be about fair and honest reviews. It is not. Thus, Yelp is garbage.

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