Why yelp sucks – Yelp survival guide

Why yelp sucks - Yelp survival guide

I continually update this article based on new information. Check back or leave a comment to share your story.  UPDATED 1/30/2013

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I used to be a die hard Yelper. I was one of the people who jumped aboard early, and was quickly on my way to being a Yelp elite.

So why am I now anti-yelp?

This article lists all the reasons as well as gives you insight as to the problems and what you can do to protect yourself because the way YELP is set up now, it is damaging to businesses and people’s reputations.  Yelp has made the system impossible for businesses.   Bad reviews are bad for your business which is good for YELP.  This article goes into why.


The “Review Filter”.   The dreaded filter, that Yelp defends.   Reviews that reflect perfectly legitimate experiences getting filtered out by the “review filter’s algorithmic processes”.

This means as a reviewer you could write hundreds of reviews, and suddenly they are no longer showing because the filter decided, for whatever reason, you are no longer review worthy.

As a business you could suddenly be cheated out of your positive reviews,  leaving only negative ones or none at all.

As a YELPER you often don’t know you have been filtered because when you are logged in, you can see your reviews fine.  But log out and look at check and you may be surprised to find out that your reviews are not showing.  NO ONE but you is reading your reviews.   For those who haven’t figured it out, they continue to make reviews like jerks, thinking people can see it but lo and behold you are only talking to yourself!

This is what happened to me.  For no reason I could see, my reviews were not showing anymore.  It made the whole process of reviewing seemed pointless from then on out.

Yelp CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, insists that it’s automated system filters out untrustworthy reviews (there’s a program that can determine that?).  But many find that this system is inconsistent.

I contacted YELP and also my local rep EMI about how I was being filtered.  How can I continue to promote YELP as a positive tool for businesses in my workshops if I can’t use my own account as an example?

I prepared for battle.  But when Emi contacted me, I was very annoyed at myself because I liked her.  I didn’t want to.  But it is hard not to.  She is beautiful, charming, talented…all the things Yelp looks for in a leader.  What is worse is I think she genuinely believes YELP is wonderful.  She defended YELP  not really addressing my concerns directly or about YELPS legal predicaments and seemed unconcerned that I was threatening to UN recommend YELP to the thousands of businesses I had previously convinced to join YELP in the first place.

You can hardly blame her, she has spent years building up her ELITE status and gets to go to all the parties.  Its pretty hard to see the truth, when you are basking in the YELP benefits.

At the end of the day, nothing happened, my complaints were for nothing just like my reviews.  But after that day my business listing could no longer be found in YELP searches.  It is still there….but only if you have a direct link.   And my positive reviews are all……well…..GONE.

Touche Yelp.  Touche.

SO what does YELP say about the filter problem?

“We agree this can be frustrating”.

Yep. Frustrating not only as the Yelper but the business, who suddenly and conveniently has their legitimate reviews filtered, just to be left with the negative ones, often by people who are competitors, or out to intentionally discredit your business.

But Yelp has the answer for you!

You can claim your listing as a business, and add your own information and images.  Of course, during the sign up process you are offered to create deals and advertise which allows you to control your account and in a sense, your reviews.  Businesses desperate to repair the damage these negative reviews are doing, often give in and pay for these upgrades and advertising.

As seen in this recent report,  advertising and deals is vital to YELP’s bottom line.

Yelp now denies that upgrading your account allows you to control your reviews, but upgrading your account does allow alter how listings appear on your page. (this has yet again changed, as time has gone by they have had to concede to public complaints)

Cats & Dogs owner Greg Perrault claims that Yelp offered to hide negative reviews if he advertised with them. He decided to not advertise with the company and a week later negative reviews that had disappeared mysteriously reappeared.

Yelp denies that they every offered to hide negative reviews because they got in trouble for it, but Currently Yelp is involved in a class action suit for extortion.  Those who have initiated the law suit have claimed they were told if they paid, that Yelp would remove their negative reviews.  Yelp did offer this at one time, and have since changed this service.  They now offer you the ability to control the reviews by featuring them or changing the order. (this has also recently changed)

Reports are still being made by companies who get calls from Yelp sales and imply that their reviews will be fixed or improve if they pay for advertising.  If you read the comments in this article you will see several people say that they received these calls and a couple of people who actually bought advertising and the agent restored their filtered positive reviews.

WHY YELP doesn’t want you to encourage people to write reviews.

Recently Harvard Business School assistant professor Michael Luca release this report that has some very interesting facts.  One I found particularly interesting was where he refers to Bayesian learning. He confirms through this model, that people are more influenced by Elite reviewers and he also find how significant a 1 star rating drop is.

A 2010 Nielson Report shows the huge influence reviews have on consumers.  They also said

“People are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive.”

In fact specifically 41%  were more likely to share a negative review online than a positive one.  So if businesses encourage satisfied customers to post positive reviews, the need to market their business via more traditional methods (advertising!) is reduced.

So with these facts we can run a scenario:

There is an open review site with no one controlling it.  Since we know Negative reviews would outweigh positives (based on statistics) a businesses would need to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive ones just to keep things balanced.

With balanced reviews, why would anyone need to advertise?

YELP knows this.

So YELP encourages mass reviewing to give their advertising dollar value.  They cultivate Elite who support advertisers, and let the negative review statistics work its magic and then by controlling the businesses from preventing them from any kind of balance on the review system, they are able to spin things in their favor for advertising and deal revenue.

If a business complains about their unfair reviews or tries to do anything to attempt to encourage customers to leave good reviews,  YELP will encourage the business to claim their listing (which promotes check in offers, advertising, and deals, all things that YELP benefits from) and here is my favorite…..”the best way to succeed on Yelp is by focusing on great customer service“.

Great customer service is commonly achieved by surveying customers and asking them for feedback.  This includes reviews!

But really, it annoys me to no end that YELP is telling us how to succeed.  As if somehow the fact that we are unhappy with our reviews means that we are lacking customer service skills.  Our issue is fairness and balance.  I think most businesses agree, they are fine with constructive negative reviews.

“Telling people this is all they need to do and the rest will take care of itself, is frankly, dangerous business advice.  I’m not sure if it was Google who started that lie or someone else, but it time for it to die a painful death.  It doesn’t matter how great your restaurant is or how awesome the experience you’re creating – if you don’t encourage people to SHARE the experience, if you don’t TELL them to share it, they very often won’t.”

Also inviting someone to try your business and leave a review (any review)  is not the same as asking for a good review…if you are willing to take the good with the bad, what is wrong with that??

My issues with The ELITE Squad

The ELITE squad.  These are Yelpers who have achieved ELITE status and whose reviews cannot be filtered.

There are ads on Craigslist from businesses offering to pay for reviews and even ads from the ELITE themselves who are offering to write reviews for your business….for a price.

Elites are not allowed to be business owners.  Why?  Because YELP knows that people who don’t own businesses can’t relate or care how damaging bad reviews are.  YELP also does not want businesses to have any control or understanding of the inner workings of YELP.

This blogger does a great job at explaining how it used to be before reviews sites, that when someone was upset they came to your face and told you so and you could offer to make it right and all was well.

Studies I reference earlier show how Elite impact a consumer’s decision to buy.  The Elite are the true driving force behind the Yelp empire.  And they are carefully programmed and cultivated to follow that program which supports advertisers.

Yelp is hypocritical

  • Yelp tells business to NOT encourage reviews.  You are allowed to place one of their authorized YELP stickers on your business window, but they do not want you asking for customers to leave reviews or offer any kind of freebies or incentives as thank yous for reviews.  Recently I got a popup asking for me to review the YELP app.  I thought that was quote funny because YELP is a business…..and they are asking for a review….on their own site that tells me I am not allowed to?
  • Businesses are discouraged from trading services for reviews.  YELP does not condone this and its a violation of their policy.  HOWEVER,  Businesses sponsor YELP Elite parties where everything is FREE and the Elite review the business.  Obviously the only reason the business does this is to get reviews.  So isn’t that considered trading services for reviews?
  • Yelp’s terms of service say  that as a reviewer you are liable for your Content. If it contains material that is “false, intentionally misleading, or defamatory; violates any third-party right, including any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, moral right, privacy right, right of publicity, or any other intellectual property or proprietary right”.  But if you complain to YELP about a review that is false the often don’t remove it and wont provide assistance in identifying the reviewer, so how can anyone hold a review liable?

And they continue to find more ways to destroy your business

Businesses seeing the impact of  bad reviews on their business, have become desperate.

As I mentioned earlier, it is not a balanced system and businesses have been trying anything they can do to get a fair balanced profile for their business online.  And Yelp continues to cut businesses off at the knees by changing the system to prevent this from happening.

So it comes as no surprise when ABC recently reported that Yelp is now playing private detective to find businesses paying for reviews and outing them publicly.  By using a computer filter (yes , they are trusting your image to yet another computer filter!!)  they are uncovering companies that purchase fake positive reviews,  then showing the world its evidence.  (full article here)

Yelp now found a way to scare businesses from planting or paying for reviews.

“One jewelry store was paying someone $200 [to write a positive review],” said Vince Sollitto, Yelp’s vice president of corporate communications. “It kind of shows that this is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game. People are always going to try to game the system.”

The computer filter that Yelp uses is so top secret the company will not talk about it for fear of giving away too many clues to businesses looking to post phony reviews.

“This is not acceptable behavior,” Sollitto said. “Frankly, it’s not just unethical, but it’s probably illegal. And we think we need to let business owners know you can’t go out there and try to mislead your consumers.”

Who gave YELP the right to police your business and report to your customers?  They are not trained, approved government or state run organizations without agendas.  This is a business, making money on this system and even worse, they are trusting these decisions to filters that they admit aren’t perfect.  They create an unfair environment then call out people for trying to avoid the damage it creates.

He says there are a couple of ways to help spot the real reviews from the fake. Truthful reviews talk about physical space and use specific details like “floor” and “small,” while fake reviewers tend to talk about themselves and their companions more than the actual business. Words like “husband” can be red flags.

Really?  This makes NO sense to me whatsover.  Most reviews I read and write all discuss who we were with and what they did.  “I want with my husband to so and so, or my mother had the hamburger and I had the steak”.  Yet this is a red flag?

Below is an example of what will popup on businesses who are caught.  Doesn’t the wording on this just seem immature and unprofessional?

This article that goes more into the  companies who were busted.

yelp buying reviews Why yelp sucks   Yelp survival guide


Competitors can manipulate reviews to their advantage

Black Hat SEO people know how to manipulate the YELP reviews to benefit their clients in both Yelp and SEO and YELP is doing nothing about it.

Say their client is XYZ so they go to the competitors of XYZ and plant a negative review.   They say something like “this person did a terrible job so I went to XYZ of XYZ company and they helped fix my issue”.

Then they go to their client’s page and say “Bob Smith of Bob Smiths Designs LLC did a terrible job so I went to XYZ and they fixed it”

What this does is manipulate the searches for both YELP and google, so when people search for Bob Smith, lo and behold XYZ comes up first in the YELP search. And if someone searches BOB Smith on google, XYZs yelp page comes up showing the negative comment.

How do you make it so that your competitors name doesn’t show on your yelp page?  You guessed it.  Advertising!

This is a big problem and Yelp needs to make a rule to prevent people from mentioning competitors in their reviews.  Since we can’t control the YELP rankings its impossible for us to do anything about it.

YELP tips

For me, all this is just too much.  As for someone who advises clients on ways to leverage their business online, I no longer felt right supporting YELP and I have since made sure to provide information to them, and of course warn them.

Unfortunately because YELP can affect your business,  Yelp isn’t just an option  you can ignore — it’s a necessity at the very least to control damage reviews can do to your business.

So if your business is local, you need to curate  and carefully monitor your Yelp page.

If your business has been around long, you probably already have a page; you’re just not holding the reins yet. You’ll want to step in and take control of it as soon as possible to prevent any negative word of mouth from hindering your growth and success.

Claiming or creating your Yelp business page is easy; just fill out a couple of online forms and answer a quick, automated phone call. It takes less than five minutes. Once you’re signed up, you’ll have access to tools.  Add a photo, your link, some information about your business, a special, whatever you want.  The important thing is that you control your listing.  Anyone can add a business to YELP and you don’t want a listing that has negative or incorrect information.

You also will be able to respond directly (Privately or publicly) to any reviews that may already be on your page.  I advocate responding publicly, in a positive and helpful manner to any negative reviews.

You can also report any reviews you think are in violation of the review policy or that you suspect could be planted.

After you have your business account under control, you can make the choice how involved you want to be with the YELP community.  I personally have boycotted any further activity until they make some serious changes to their business practices, and get rid of that dreaded CENSOR, I mean REVIEW FILTER.

But that is just me.

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About Dani Girl

Hawaii web designer/developer. Owner of BOSS Hawaii, professional photographer. Love animals, gaming, and ice cream for breakfast. Visit my Google+ profile here. View all posts by Dani Girl

160 Comments to Why yelp sucks – Yelp survival guide

  1. James

    I hired yelp to advertise my business. not only did the advertising never pay for itself, the account reps were inexperienced people who are not qualified to help a business grow. They feel far short of the sales pitch and overcharged my credit card, then refused to refund the money. Crooks!! Basically, we are yelp so f-off small business, you were dumb enough to give us your credit card number, so I guess it serves me right.

  2. leslie henry

    Im coming at this from a customer perspective. their is a talk tab that lets u ask for advice. i asked for help on finding a hair salon. I detailed some of my recent bad experiences hoping i would get a little sympathy and some really good recommendations for a top notch salon. instead i got trolled with people bullying me and saying how i deserved bad service and that i must be the client from hell to have more than one bad experience with a salon. they were all ganging up on me and bullying me. there is literally no option to remove a question and make it all go away. u can block individual posters from contacting u directly but there is nothing to stop them from posting below ur original question and continuing to harass and bully u. i have checked back a few times since my last post hours ago and the trolls are still out, making fun of me and insulting me. when i have had that happen on facebook, i can easily remove the post and it all goes away. ur only option with yelp is to close ur account. they say it will wipe away ur history but that isnt true. it will wipe away all ur reviews but anything u posted on ur original account on the talk tab stays there forever. it isnt fair and their is no way for me to contact yelp directly and ask them to remove my question. all i have access to is a suggestions tabt or a faq section. there has got to be a way to contact yelp directly but i cant find it.

    • You are referring to the YELP talk section. Yes, I totally agree, it is nothing but a forum for Yelper and Elites to bully any business or person complaining or needing help. I don’t even use that anymore. I talk about it in a few of my articles. I don’t know why YELP allows that to continue. Many times on the Hawaii Talk pages, Emi, Yelp’s community manager, has to come on and answer the question as with most of the talk pages in other states. However they rarely address the abusive behavior.

  3. Eddie

    I know Yelp is black mailing businesses. The Yelp salesman called me but I refused to buy their ads. I learned that ALL my good reviews are filters but ONLY ONE bad one survived the filter and was posted on my business on Yelp. That cannot be a coincident.

    I am a computer science major so I did a test to verify this. I created a fake profile, wrote 6 fakes reviews on 6 different businesses with similar comments. One of the business is my own. 5 fake excellent reviews were posted but the one I wrote on my business was filtered.

    I confirmed I am marked. Yelp is a big extortion and I hope they pay. they are scam all the way!!!!!

  4. Stephie P


    I am outraged that Yelp removed the 3 Negative Reviews that were posted for a store that customers are abused by the crazy owner and kicked out permanently.
    They removed them from the store page! They also said the were in a different category that was NOT recommended.
    Yelp probably gets kickbacks to do this. How much do owners who want to get rid of any negative reviews pay YELP? Why would the negative reviews be chopped out and the 2 positive ones left there? Very fishy indeed.
    Also they stated that our ratings will not be affecting this seller’s overall scores!
    What is the point of this charade? Yelp is not being fair….but very shady!
    I thought Yelp was an up and up business…..but it is corrupt!
    If people can not tell their experience and have it count…..WHAT IS THE POINT OF YELP?
    I posted on another site and it is #2 on Google.
    I am disgusted by Yelp . I even made certain that I did not violate their terms. Neither did the other 2 negative posts.
    I wrote Yelp and of course never heard from them…..much less be given a rational explanation….which is impossible, since their actions are corrupt.
    All three negatives pulled off? Come on! WHY??? No explanation.
    I am going to spread the word about this entire incident(s) to all my 27 million contacts who love reading my blogs.
    Yelp = Corrupt

    PS I wonder how long before they take this opinion out?

    The Store is called ” Lost and Found Recyclable Fashions” ~ Hillcrest, San Diego, CA
    Read my review

    • Here is the paradox. Your reviews were “unrecommended” aka filtered because you are not an active YELP user. YELP only recommends valid reviews and they consider it valid if you review more and use yelp more. Actually I am glad they do this because it prevents competitors o or businesses from planting reviews. HOWEVER, lately I have noticed that first time reviewers that were previously never clearing the filter are now making it through. At one point that was always consistently something you could depend on, that you didn’t have to worry about those reviews being shown. Now I am seeing a big flaw in this.

      I actually tested planting reviews on a competitors business that were negative (I deleted them of course) using a first time account. None stuck. Then I did the same on an account that I believed as being targeted after they cancelled advertising and the reviews stuck. I then did 2 positive reviews to the competitor and those stuck and tried 2 positive on the blacklisted business and they got auto filtered. In other words, the account who cancelled advertising is being treated differently than the competitor who was new to Yelp. The former advertiser had been on Yelp for 5 years with 13 positive reviews that had never been filtered. Suddenly they get 1 negative and all the positives get filtered and no positive will stick which all happened right after he refused to continue advertising. When I asked Yelp why the competitor had all these first time reviewers sticking and the other account had active yelpers being filtered, he told me that even though those accounts looked new, they still could be active on yelp, that just because they weren’t reviewing doesn’t mean they aren’t using yelp. What a load of crap!!

  5. Yelper

    I’m a yelp elite.. Been an elite for over 5 years. My review ratings are very balanced and I’ve written over 300 reviews.. Anyone that writes that many reviews does it because they have a passion for it.
    I do get multiple offers to go to parties every month. In 5 years… I’ve been to a total of 1 event and that was a “play” that they let me take my wife and son too. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.. I’ve had businesses offer me $$ to write positive reviews or change a negative review. (I think the biggest bribe I was offered was close to 2500.) I make a good living, I don’t do this to get bribe money from crappy unethical business owners. (And I would never do anything that violates yelps TOS) I do it because I love doing it. I use yelp all the time. I won’t go to a place without reading the reviews first. Are some of the reviews that some people write scams? Sure.. It’s not a perfect system. But I figure the more honest people out there that review those businesses. The more those scammers (and biz owners) are brought to light.
    The article that was written above has a couple of truths in it.. But it also has some outright lies. Advertising has absolutely no hidden effect on how your reviews are filtered. There are good business owners out there and unfortunately there are poor ones too. Unfortunately, lots of times the poor business owners are the ones that cry about a bad review instead of trying to make peoples experience better…ironically, this is the world of capitalism and in that world there are good businesses that are innovative and responsive.. And there are those businesses that aren’t.. More likely (but not always ) it’s the responsive biz that ends up surviving . Good luck to you my friend and don’t be so bitter. It will only eat you up inside.

    • Thank you for your comment. No one is saying that there are not good elite out there BUT like other yelpers who try and defend what I am talking about, you guys fail to see what the issue is.

      When you say that advertising has no effect on the filter, I have personally heard yelp sales people say otherwise. In fact it has to. And here is why. YELP admits that if you try to game the system by asking people to post reviews and you get too many at once, they will get filtered. OK so when you are offered to advertise, the sales pitch now is that while being an advertiser will not get your reviews filtered unfiltered, the increase in traffic will prompt more business and more reviews. SO tell me, if you advertise and are getting a lot of reviews at once, and those reviews stick, then the filter has to take into account you are an advertiser otherwise you get filtered!

      I am not bitter because I am not personally affected by YELP. As a matter of fact, if anything YELP has brought me clients wanting to improve their websites and SEO because of YELP. So if I was a bad person I could keep my mouth shut and rake in the money.

      I write this to help people because it bothers me that businesses are suffering and I see it first hand. Right now I can name 20 businesses off the top of my head that are ready to go out of business because the filter system decided to filter all their positive reviews while their competitors are untouched.

      So if you truly care about businesses or people in general than that would bother you too and you would understand that this is about trying to force YELP to fix issues and to see businesses as people and not statistics or money or scammers because they are desperately trying to save their businesses by offering someone like you money to probably try and level out the playing field. I bet this was someone who had all their reviews buried and was just trying to get one positive to stick. YELP thinks businesses don’t want to be reviewed. That isn’t the issue. They don’t like being unfairly reviewed. Jeremy Stoppleton himself gets really defensive if anyone talks about YELP. Funny how that works.

      Until YELP sees the damage in this unfair system and starts getting more humans to fix the unfairly filtered reviews, then they are just going to keep getting into trouble.

      BTW noticed how you don’t leave your email or your name. This is another issue. YELP tells you all that you need to be accountable for your reviews. But who does a business go to if a YELPER slanders them? In the real world you get sued for going around spreading lies to harm a business. But on YELP you guys can be protected as anonymous and YELP further protects you by not releasing the info without a court forcing them to.

      If you feel that you all are justified and doing such a good service than why not be honest about who you are?

  6. I work with local restaurants in Dallas and have heard many complaints about Yelp. I noticed first hand discrimination (if you can call it that way) for UYE events (Unofficial Elite Yelper events) – one of my clients who advertises with Yelp had elite Yelpers approach us and do the UYE event. On the other hand I had one of my elite Yelper organize a UYE event at a restaurant which does not advertise and there were bunch of yes/interest but on the D-Day not even a single person showed up. I am not sure whether this is just a coincidence or another way of doing things?

  7. Dani, Thank you for your honesty, and Aloha! Mahalo nui loa!


    Please sign this petition on MoveOn. Pay it Forward. Thank you!

    Pay it Forward: Ban Yelp from Google and all Search Engines until they stop filtering legitimate positive reviews and stop allowing false reviews to appear on business listings.

    Pay it Forward: Ban Yelp from Search Engines until they stop their harmful practices. Yelp is destroying small businesses. They have gamed the search engine companies and our system of free enterprise. They have a clear conflict of interest, and this harms everyone. Help small businesses succeed, and you will help all economies prosper. This will help everyone! Thank you!

    Please help and sign our petition to help people everywhere. Please help and spread the word to make the world a better place for all.

  8. Christopher Johnson

    I find Yelp’s practices to be highly annoying and downright insulting. I have been writing reviews online for over 10 years, mostly on Amazon but also on business review sites such as Kudzu, Google reviews and now Yelp. I take care in all my reviews and have always given honest reviews when either I hated the business, loved it, or somewhere in between. I spend a lot of time on my reviews and its a slap in the face when some computer program tells me my review that I spent some much time and thought in writing is untrustworthy for whatever reason.

    I haven’t been on yelp as long as I have at other sites, and I would say I have about 30 yelp reviews. Recently spent nearly two hours writing, proofreading and rewriting a review on a local business only to have Yelp filter it out as “Not recommended”. Give me a break.

    I will continue to write online reviews, but I won’t be writing for Yelp until they get rid of this ridiculous filtering system. Its not only their filtering system that annoys me, its their arrogance and stubbornness to refuse to acknowledge that their filtering system is seriously flawed.

  9. Amazing and insightful article, and equally amazing responses. I have an interesting story on Yelp. I’m one of the founders of a local Hawaii startup called Yobu.com (short for Your Business) we just launched a few weeks ago. Yobu is a marketplace for services and combination of Facebook, Pinterest & Etsy. We purchased the yellow page data just like Yelp did and even tied into the Yelp API to pull in all the Yelp star ratings to pre-populate the site. Then we noticed something when we started paying attention to the Yelp ratings. Our friends businesses who we’d recommend had 2-4 star ratings. In fact I’m a local small business retail store owner (in addition to now Yobu :) and I have a few retail stores. I had a bad Yelp review saying that we were selling boxes for $10 when it was untrue, it was a $1 box including gift wrapping deal (ribbon, bow etc). It was a steal in fact. Yet that review remains on my profile. I’m terrified of Yelp and refuse to answer the repeated emails and calls I get trying to solicit my advertising. I’m actually afraid to answer.

    Another one of my friends got one star for being too expensive. Are you kidding me?!?! It was “unfiltered”. She does amazing work and she can charge more for it and she should.

    So all of you who are reading this that want a Yelp alternative, please join us on Yobu. You can recommend businesses you like on and share those recommendations with friends. Save favorite photos & items from businesses to boards and more. We’ve got some exciting features coming and are in the process of developing the site. It’s totally free for businesses and users, we’re really proud of the aesthetic and our focus on the business, giving them the ability to put their best foot forward. Instead of a review from a stranger, we hope to build a networked community similar to Linkedin where you get a recommendation from someone you trust.

    Needless to say, after much consideration and feedback from businesses these past couple of weeks, we disconnected from the Yelp API. We’re going at it on our own and building our own Hawaii community based on referrals and discovery.

    Much aloha,
    Shyrah Maurer

    • sounds great, excited to see what you have done. Anything in an improvement so thanks for doing it.

  10. Samantha

    Ya guys !!!
    you just telling whats inside my heart. i have passed through all these things with being fooled with yelp.
    not anymore after being so loyal.
    Many people got fooled like us and now my self and lots of friends moved to help an amazing website http://www.woyps.com , it gives us the apportunity to list any business or place we visited, own it in our profiles and when the company owner claims it we get almost 40% of the profit.
    its not tha big website but i believe that people grow any business not the owners and also we can break any business by breaking it down and ignorning it totaly.

    thank you again for sharing this and bless you.

  11. Dan Marquardt

    Yelp kicked me off for disagreeing with their reviewer’s liberal stances in the politics catagory. Heaven forbid that an actual conversation could take place there with the closed-mindedness that runs rampant. I stopped reviewing and emptied my profile. When I only entered the talk areas it became open season on me. Still, I held my own, until my topics were attacked and I was kicked off [probably for being more clever than them].

    • Been there! Talks is either really great or an utter nightmare.

  12. Your review voices every complaint I have about yelp. These people car con artists. I have had 12 reviews on my yelp page for Auto Mart Las Vegas All but 2 negatives were filtered. Both of the negatives created on the same day, mention my competitors and have no other reviews.

    All the filtered reviews are from actual customers that we really helped out (we sell cars to people with really bad credit). It got to a point where I contacted yelp and said I could give proof they bought the car, their phone number and they could contact them directly (I had permission already). They truly don’t care.

    One of the reviews references an salesman we don’t have (we only have two) screaming and cussing at them. The two salesmen I have are about as vulgar as santa clause and ned flanders.

    Nothing you can do to remove false listings, can’t get positive listings. And no matter what you do its #2 link after your website at all times

  13. Nichrome

    I have close to 70 reviews on Yelp. Most achieve “recommended” status but some do not. I have no personal axe to grind with any business, nor do I receive any compensation or benefit from any owner or employee. Unlike reviewers from major media outlets, I am not seeking to boost advertising revenue.

    Are there specific words to avoid when constructing a review so a review will stand a better chance of not being inadvertently mischaracterized by Yelp’s undeniably flawed review filter? Words such as “best”, “worst”, “no” and “failed” come to mind.

    Is there a way to tell if the owner of the restaurant or business has petitioned Yelp to remove the negative reviews?

    I have repeatedly seen cases where recommended reviews contain the very same praises and criticisms for a specific business found in reviews that are buried in the unrecommended pages. Besides the number of reviews under one’s belt, why are some reviews rejected while others are accepted?

    Also, is there any way to edit a review once it is banished to the unrecommended area in hopes it will be placed in the recommended page? If not, is there any way to delete a review completely and start over again, omitting trigger words in an effort to avoid the unrecommended label?

    Thank you for your insightful article.

  14. Yelp sucks! I’ve tried to get people to give reviews, but I just can’t seem to get my clients to leave reviews. But we have a great reputation, lots of repeat business, and tons of referrals. The only people who seem to want to write reviews are the asshats that come in with a small annoying order, full of complaints and entitlement, and they leave the bad ones.

    Personally I think Yelp should be sued for extortion. They extort companies and businesses into paying them a subscription so they can reply to reviews online. In order to reply to a negative review, you have to pay them money. That is the very definition of extortion.

    The review is one way. You never get to see the business owner’s response unless they pay money to yelp to be able to respond.

  15. Wayne

    Wow, I love Yelp and use it all the time to find businesses. I recently reviewed a company, a negative review, with a day by day scenario of their work and pictures. After receiving a nasty yelp from the owner, my review and pictures were removed because of “second hand information” and “not being representative of the business”. So I rewrote it with lots of “I” and just used 2 pictures. It remained until I posted another nasty yelp from the owner. It was removed again for “second hand information” but the pictures remained. Now I’ve written a 3rd review. I’m beginning to think the owner of the business is buying my silence. If this one is taken off, I’m closing my acct. and moving to Angie’s List…

  16. Middle Cyclone

    I am ashamed to admit that I was once a die hard Elite Yelper. I also have abandoned Yelp and removed my profile from the site after repeated requests to my Community Manager. After arguing for a bit she finally conceded and I am now happily living the Yelp free life.

    What I don’t understand is that I was never once filtered even before I was Elite and very new to the site and almost immediately started receiving attention from my city’s Community Manager. The common complaint from many new users is that their reviews almost immediately get filtered. Looking back on it I think it’s because they saw that I fell into the same demographic of most of the Elites and wanted to enlist me. At first I loved the site and could see how it is a welcoming platform for those who are new to the city and looking for new places to head out to and people to head there with. However the Elite’s have ruined the experience for everyone else who joins Yelp and doesn’t fit in to their special club.

    What I began to see pretty quick is that most Elites have a huge sense of entitlement and will say anything they want about a business. They do this because they can and will continue to do so because they get away with it. When a business owner responds in defense of the review the Elite has left to the Elite community this business owner is now unbelievably in the wrong for having the gall to defend his or her business against statements which are exaggerated and borderline false. The outrage for calling an Elite’s credibility into question would be enormous. I couldn’t in good faith continue to be a part of a community which so blatantly supports criticizing businesses mercilessly. I requested to have my account removed and to my surprise actually had to defend and explain my reasons for wanting to leave several times before my request was finally carried out. It seems that anyone on Yelp just can’t believe that not everyone is so thankful to be crowned a Yelp Elite.

    In the period of time where I was requesting to remove my profile the year ended and a notice had been sent out to all existing Elites to put in their requests to renew their Elite status for the new year. I did not put in a request as I was trying to remove my profile yet somehow I was given the Elite badge for the new year. This made no sense to me as I hadn’t posted a review or participated in any event for months and was in the process of requesting to have my profile removed from the site! To me this looked like Yelp was telling me ‘Well you can STILL be Elite so why don’t you just stick around???’ It was either a bribe or a huge flaw in their system as there were many people who were far more active on the site then I was who wanted Elite status and who were screaming bloody murder because they didn’t get it.

    I do not understand how a site like Yelp is still in operation. Obviously they don’t hold any of their users accountable for the content which is posted and also don’t follow their own rules therefore leaving Yelp to be an anarchy. The best advice I can give anyone who is potentially interested in Yelp is to not get involved. The only way to win at the game that they are playing is not to play it! Hopefully as more and more consumers begin to abandon Yelp it will lose it’s commanding presence. I know already in my city Yelp is losing steam and from the looks of the reviews of Yelp on Yelp’s own site many people all over the globe are tired of their double standards and unfair practices to both businesses and consumers alike.

    • Wow thank you so much for that comment. It is nice to hear first hand accounts from a former Elite. I have spoken to many in person but non will go on record. It truly is like the mafia! What I hope is that Yelp will finally listen and make changes for the better. But sadly, after seeing them “punish” businesses in court, it only confirms what I feel all along is that Yelp really doesn’t care about businesses and only uses them to make money.

    • tervis

      Middle cyclone’s experience practically mirrors mine, as I was elite for 2-3 years. I naively thought I was doing businesses a favor by reviewing them. But one day I started researching and uncovered story after story about these businesses seeing their reviews go missing.

      I had thought about closing my account for some time but the nail in the coffin for me was their 100-review/year contest a while ago, with the promise of a party for all those who completed it. I saw it for what it truly was, a way to get as many minions to type as much as possible, not to mention I felt it went against the TOS as far as being paid for a review. I also found the mob mentality on the talk boards is insane, if anyone dare question yelp’s motives or those extortion theories. I just didn’t want to be a part of it anymore, once I felt yelp’s business model was hurting businesses.

      Now it’s nice to be on the other side looking in and watch this house of cards slowly crumble.

      • Middle Cyclone

        Hi Tervis, good to hear you got out too. I think the main problem with Yelp is that they choose to have the Elite Squad and therefore create the mob mentality. It’s inevitable when there is a group of people and some are given a ‘special’ title over others that those chosen few will eventually start to see themselves as better than average and therefore entitled to more. I really question if some Elites would be so quick to criticize and personally attack businesses and employees / business owners if they weren’t acting behind the Elite badge. I do personally know some Elite members who make the effort to write thoughtful, helpful and fair reviews however they unfortunately make up the vast minority of the Elite squad. It’s a shame really as Yelp did start out with a great idea of giving consumers a platform to voice opinions and also find new businesses yet it’s the ‘chosen few’ who have ruined it for everyone else plus Yelp’s own refusal to follow the rules that they themselves have put into place.

  17. Coco

    Ya Yelp is a real piece of shit for all the above reasons + it never let you close you account… those bunch of lame mother fuckers!

  18. Yelp got me also! Likes Yelp but not that my business is on there they have filtered 2 (5) star reviews with names and a simple message yet they kept unfiltered an anonymous message that suggested I do unlawful things to help people. It is simply amazing to me that the nice neutral reviews are kept from the public yet the mysterious (1) star review kept from the filter. Where did this one bad review come from???? Interesting because I know all of my clients and there is no way in hell any of my clients would say that. Is there covert Yelp group that goes in and types up bad reviews?? I don’t know but it would make sense based on their business practice. Someone is going to take all of these unYelpful ideas and create a new disruptive website that is filter free and then goodby Yelp who be saying HELP.

  19. Andrea

    Word on the street is replying publicly to negative reviews works against businesses as Yelp’s “don’t look behind the curtain” algorithm takes your responses as legitimizing the content and makes it more like to stay public facing.

    I once sent a multi-page thorough assessment several negative reviews of other companies that were incorrectly placed on my company’s page to feedback@yelp.com (as instructed) only to receive a “we believe these reviews are accurate” response. No contact information, no justification – meanwhile I had completely proved they were not reviews of my company at all.

  20. OMG Yelp is the bane of my existence. ALL of my reviews (20+ of them) are hidden from sight. I called Yelp and was told (hand to God) that if I advertised with them the positive review would be shown again. Pretty sure that is extortion? or blackmail? or both? They are legitimate posts made over many years time by actual customers of mine. I can prove it! And they still won’t post the reviews. It’s hurting my business. I believe Yelp is a TREMENDOUSLY BAD THING FOR BUSINESSES. I wish I had an “Anti-Yelp” sticker to put on my door… lol.

  21. James

    Yelp is very bad website. They dons’t pay attention to business owners as customer. Customer Service is terrible. You can not add your business any more but they call you every day 100 time to advertise yelp to you! Ridiculous, waste of time, not responsible, rude customer service, negative website.

  22. What many fail to realize about Yelp is how it uses it’s review filter to control the flow of business to those that pay for advertising as well.

    This is how Yelp manipulates their paid advertisers in the service industry with it’s corrupt review filter:

    We own a plumbing company and Yelp is somewhat new to our area, it started ranking high on the local SERPS maybe two years ago and subsequently people started to participate. One of my customers added me to the site and wrote a 5 star review and soon after I began to see more and more calls coming from Yelp. Before long a sales rep was calling and after a couple months of constant pestering I finally agreed to a 6 month contract. I slowly began to pick up a few reviews here and there but I noticed that they would filter literally half of my reviews, all of them 5 star. At this time I had no negative reviews but I started to realize the reason they were filtering these positive reviews; they were essentially keep me from pulling too far away from the rest of the pack (my competitors on Yelp who hadn’t signed an advertising contract yet.) The reason for this is simple; they need a certain percentage of calls going to those new potential paid advertisers and if one business is gobbling up the lion’s share of the calls for that particular category then the others will see minimal results from the site and are less likely to buy advertising. It’s one layer of control that Yelp can use to manipulate where the calls go.

    Here is another layer of control that Yelp uses against it’s customers:

    About 6 months ago a couple things changed, there were two other companies with paid advertising and suddenly I got a bad review. The review was legitimate, meaning it was a real person but it was his first and only review on the site and it stuck without getting filtered. What this gives Yelp is another layer of control because they can move his 1 star review to the top of the page if I’m getting too many hits or move it to the bottom if I’m getting so few that I’m prepared to pull my advertising dollars.

    Yelp sets up not only their review filter but also the order of the reviews to control how many calls a business can get. One businesses reputation is partiality sacrificed to raise their advertising profits. The way it’s dishonest is that it’s not a true representation of a businesses reputation. As it stands now I have 6 positive reviews, 2 negative reviews and 6 positive reviews in the filter. They claim it’s all automated and I really wouldn’t be surprised if they did have a computer program running this with just a couple people overseeing it. There is no one you can talk to about it at Yelp.

    • Marc T.

      I have three issues with Yelp. These are promoting competitors ads on nonadvertiser’s webpages, their alliance with ALEC and third, if you read through this comment, I will give you direct evidence that Yelp does manipulate access to negative reviews.

      1). A business does not have a choice to have a Yelp page. Either Yelp adds you or a consumer may add you and Yelp will refuse to remove your page even if you request. The search engine power of Yelp outranks any single small business and their listing appears first in search engine results. When a consumer searches for a business by name, the Yelp result comes up first. A business may think this is good, but on a Yelp page where the business does not advertise appear ads for their competitors. For example if a business is the most popular pizza restaurant, their results comes up first because people search for it by name, but on that business’s page are ads for pizza places that may have otherwise been on page 20 of Google search results because they pay Yelp for ads. Yelp uses the popularity and good reputation of businesses that do not need their help and generates revenues from competing businesses. Yelp does not compensate a business with profit sharing from the ads it runs on their Yelp pages and benefits from business names it lists without the owner’s permission. Copyright violation and use of a company name for profit without the permission of the owner will probably be the basis of a lawsuit which will bring Yelp down.

      2). Yelp Alliance with ALEC, the reactionary right-wing group allied with the Koch brothers and the Tea Party, which writes most of the voter-suppression legislation being rammed through in many States. ALEC is responsible for voter ID legislation which excluded 5 million people from voting, “Stand your Ground” laws that were the foundation for the defense in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case and other laws to use public money to privatize schools. Read section 3 for how Yelp dealt with the negative publicity.

      3). If you read this, you will see that Yelp can manipulate the outcome of user reviews. Using the ALEC case as an example, check out the following: Go to the review of Yelp page at


      3,000 negative reviews were placed on yelp this week and many were filtered in spite of the fact that they were from legitimate users and they did not conflict with Yelp policies. Scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the number of filtered reviews (5,136) as of 8/25/13 it was 3,296 earlier in the week. Click on the word filtered, enter the capcha code and see the results (tell me the results are an accident).

      Next, go the Alec Yelp page here.


      On 8/23 there were 769 negative reviews and 100% of them were filtered, on 8/25 the top of the page shows 386 negative reviews, 100% filtered. In addition, you can not view any of the negative reviews. So all reviews were filtered and in 3 days nearly 400 reviews were deleted.

      One way of restricting freedom of speech is to restrict access. Try this exercise and see if you don’t agree. Go to any Yelp.com page and put these entries in the search field.

      Alec (name)
      Washington, DC 20036

      and view the results. The search results exclude the Alec Yelp page for Alec in Washington, DC. So if you wanted to place a negative review on the Alec Yelp page, the Yelp search option does not allow you to even find it. If Yelp can filter reviews of it’s own page and the pages of it’s alliances as well as change the search results for finding a business, then the question of review management objectivity comes into question.

      • tervis

        #3″The search results exclude the Alec Yelp page for Alec in Washington, DC. So if you wanted to place a negative review on the Alec Yelp page, the Yelp search option does not allow you to even find it. If Yelp can filter reviews of it’s own page and the pages of it’s alliances as well as change the search results for finding a business, then the question of review management objectivity comes into question.”

        Yes, I’ve mentioned this too on various boards. What they do is put a metatag in the guts of the page. It’s called ‘noindex’ and prevents the page from being seen when one does an organic search. You can check it out on any page by right clicking the page, then select “view page info”. Once the pop box appears, look in the box labeled meta. You will see the “noindex” code. This is no accident and MUST be placed there by programmers.

  23. Well after reading all this I went onto yelp and saw 7 of our 5 star reviews are filtered out! 2 bad reviews(the only 2 and from 2011) show up and 1 5 star review shows up. I really do not get it! Why are they filtering out all our good reviews? I feel like they are out to ruin us. I am so frustrated.

  24. jarrod

    They deleted my review, and I promptly deleted them.

  25. Hundreds of people come to me and send happy, delighted thank yous. I found 8 of these on yelp. Yelp hid 6 of these (all 5 starts from verifiable legit clients) but published the one 1 star BAD review, averaging that one in but not averaging in the 5s. This shot my five star rating to a three when it is mathematically a 5! Problem with the one star: written by a woman who forced her dog to leave the session before it was half over so I could not finish the work! The woman threw paper all over my drive way and then misquoted me on yelp saying I said and did and things I hadn’t. Why are SIX 5 star in depth reviews from real customers hidden and not used in the average but one rating from some one who didn’t even stay for the session considered legit? I called yelp twice and the tow different people who answered told me fully different answers.

  26. Amy

    Your opinion is a bit extreme. You may or may not have a valid argument, but I find it hard to believe by the way you state that “all” positive reviews are wiped clear and there are only negative reviews remaining. Comparing yelp reviews to the businesses they inquire, things typically match up. I do see a few negative ratings that are written by hateful customers with sticks jammed up their asses, but that will happen.

    • It is not just my opinion, it is fact that this is a major problem and its not just me reporting this. YELP readily admits that legitimate reviews get caught in their filter. If you search this you will find plenty of examples of this and if you ever have a business on yelp you will eventually see for yourself. If you read the comments on this article you will see that most of them complain that they were left with negative or no reviews.

  27. Beyond frustrating what this company does. I have experienced the same thing. ALL positive reviews are buried and 1 negative 1 star review lives on forever. Why isn’t the press all over this? The company is intentionally distorting by business reputation and just shrugs when I point it out. We have had 30,000+ clients over the past 15 years and YELP let’s 1 client dictate the reputation? seems like they are wide open for a class action lawsuit.

    • YELP will be the first one to remind people that many have tried and failed to sue them. I think a class action suit is a necessary step, and I have seen several claim to start this but have not seen any progress. I find so many ways they are breaking the law but yet no court has ruled against them yet.

  28. Lee

    Boss, I too have fallen victim to the Yelp Curse. I dont pay em and all my positive reviews are filtered and my poor reviews show up on my front page. Thus lowering my score.
    Can I just remove my business entirely and ask them to not show me on their website?

    They are using my business for content to populate their space. Cant I put a stop to it in some legal way? I don’t want a yelp presence what so ever.


    • Unfortunately no, they do not let you opt out. It is another complaint people have about YELP, that they are allowed to use your trademarked name and information as listings and to feed their business model and profit margin.

  29. Shirley

    I am so glad I found this Yelp support service told me I was mistaken when I advised them that there extornation was mentioned on People’s court. A man said on national television that Yelp representatives offered to lose his bad reviews if he advertised with them Judge Millian said she hoped that was not true but she would have it looked into.Thanks for all the postings so helpful

  30. ssanford00

    Yes, Yelp sucks! I have been “testing” Yelp for awhile, now, to see exactly how this filtering system works. I’ve noticed that if a business doesn’t pay them, then the bad reviews are kept and the good reviews are filtered out completely. Legit customers are having their positive reviews “hidden” because they don’t belong to the “Elite” group or the company isn’t paying Yelp off. I’ll do whatever it takes to support the “Yelp Sucks” movement.

  31. Michael

    I too have abandoned Yelp. It’s not useful to a consumer either as a guide to local businesses, or as a way to share your experiences.

    I’ve written several legitimate reviews which Yelp now filters from users. It angers me that I would take my time to offer something of myself only to have an algorithm decide I’m not worthy. If Yelp is not interested in my experiences, I’m not going to waste my time sharing them.

    Moreover, knowing that my honest reviews have been filtered, I can only conclude that reviews for most or all other businesses have also been filtered. This renders Yelp useless as a guide to local business.

  32. tito rivera

    On WFLA Tampa, FL they showed a story about the Lone Star Tile and Grout Cleaning Company in San Antonio, TX. The show aired tonight and show said that the business had a five star review out of eight reviews and and two star review from one reviewer. Someone from YELP contacted the owner and said that he had written all the good reviews and his company was being downgraded to two stars.

    After proving that he didn’t write the reviews I see his company is still rated two stars.

    What is really interesting is that after proving he didn’t write the reviews a couple of months later a representative of your company told him that for $400 – $500 a month his five star rating would be be up.

    Don’t believe me go to WFLA,1830 broadcast, 5 May 2013.

    Where I’m from (NYC, Harlem to be exact) this is known as a shakedown. Shame on your shelf. I’ll never use your site again and I’ll post this on the web for all my friends to see.


    Don YELP

  33. It was an absolute relief to read your comments concerning yelp, since my experience reflects the exact scenario you describe. I have been in business for over 30+years focusing my attention on providing the best care for my patients. Recently we upgraded our entire website to reflect all aspects of our business, and of course to drive new patients in see us. So, you can imagine my chagrin and embarrasment when I saw how my reviews were manipulated resulting in the scenario you and others described. I was stunned to see the comments that first came up and i wondered what happened to all the hundreds if not thousands of more positive reviews? It became painfully obvious what yelp was up to, eliminating hundreds of positive reviews and leaving hysterical, crazy, negative reviews from non patients and disgruntled employees., etc. Yelp has succeeded in devising a way to suppress, filter, and manipulate the truth behind what a true patient experience is and instead, like a heat seeking missile go out and try to destroy what I have spent my entire life building. It feels like the classic David vs Goliath, and I have only just begun to fight. I have always stood for fairness, responsibility, integrity etc, championing the underdog, only this time it is personal.

  34. Kris

    I am 60 years old. I have owned and run my own business for 30 years. I have always worked very hard to give my customers excellent service. I didn’t pay much attention to Yelp until recently. I knew that it is usually mad people who yelp and felt that as long as I did the best job I could, my business would do well. This economy has hurt everyone in my line of work and it has been a struggle to survive. A competing business opened 5 months ago. They have twenty five 5 star letters – all of them quite long and involved – on their yelp site. Wow, nothing suspicious about that huh?! I looked at my site and realized that three 5 star letters had been “filtered” in the past 3 months. I wasn’t even aware they had been written but I did recognize the names. They are all wonderful people who just wanted to write and say something nice about my business. These were honest reviews. Available however right at the top are the few reviews from truly disturbed people and negative reviews from years ago. I don’t expect all reviews to be wonderful – no one does. But why are less stellar reviews from years back kept up and good ones “filtered”? Additionally they have for years kept up negative reviews from people I know are unbalanced. Now I have to wonder. Are these crazy people yelpers?

    Who are Yelpers anyhow? I didn’t even know they existed until tonight. Why would someone’s opinion be worth more if they have nothing better to do than sit around and write yelp reviews. Their interactions with businesses would not even be honest. If Yelp was for real they would want reviews that are for real. Yelp has offered to fix the order of our reviews (why the heck are they just not chronological) if we pay them $500 per month. Not only can I not afford that but extortion is against the law. It’s no different than paying protection money to bad cops.

    They are destroying small businesses in this country at a time when we can least afford to have that happen. Who is behind Yelp? Why can’t they be stopped or at least be given some rules they have to follow? I just don’t know how it keeps on going when I read complaint after complaint that is exactly the same as mine? There must at least be hundreds of thousands of us if not millions.

    • Help is on its way….

      We are three days away from launching reviews-unfiltered.com which will give small business people the ability to post their great reviews, all their great reviews, for $5.00 a month. And we’ll broadcast those reviews all over the net.

      Hold on.

  35. Jon

    Yelp is destroying small business in America. Something our country is dependent on. The worst thing is. When a small new business is first trying to adjust to master there concept. Here comes Yelpers trashing these places before they have a chance to be open for a month are so and make needed adjustments. If you believe in America like I do and want to do it a favor. Stop clicking on yelp ads and it will shut this company down This is just my opinion.

  36. Bjorn

    check out below, copied and pasted from Edmonton, Alberta Canada Yelp. The reviewer admits to taking a ‘bribe’ from the restaurant even though he allusions it as working as marketing, he nonetheless is still working for the restaurant as an employee then he goes and writes a four review for the restaurant which then gets the restaurant the coveted Review of the Day!

    As well, on the Edmonton Yelp Discussion One review for Arc En Ciel Restaurant
    Search Reviews
    Sort by: Yelp Sort | Date | Rating | Useful | Funny | Cool | Total Votes | Friends’ | Elites’
    Matthew L.’s Review
    Review from Matthew L.

    Elite ’13
    80 friends
    408 reviews
    Matthew L.
    for the love of bread
    Edmonton, AB
    Send Message
    Follow This Reviewer
    1/30/2013 1 photo ROTD 4/13/2013 First to Review
    I will start off this review with a few caveats:

    1) While Arc En Ciel Restaurant is not paying me anything, I am volunteering my time to help the restaurant with its marketing efforts.
    2) Because of this, the restaurant has fed me some food on the house.
    3) I would not write this review if I could not vouch for the tastiness and preparation of the food.

    And now for a review:

    Arc en Ciel means rainbow in French, so with a name like that you’d expect French food – it’s not – the menu offers an assortment of Vietnamese and Chinese Dishes. and Answer, an Elite Yelper called Violet was quick to call out this review as ‘coercion’ and you need to go on and see the rest or most of the other responses in support of their ‘buddy’ or ‘friend’ matthew who wrote the review and got the free food it is disgusting to see howcthey defend their friend’s bribery set-up review.

    One review for Arc En Ciel Restaurant
    Search Reviews
    Sort by: Yelp Sort | Date | Rating | Useful | Funny | Cool | Total Votes | Friends’ | Elites’
    Matthew L.’s Review
    Review from Matthew L.

    Elite ’13
    80 friends
    408 reviews
    Matthew L.
    for the love of bread
    Edmonton, AB
    Send Message
    Follow This Reviewer
    1/30/2013 1 photo ROTD 4/13/2013 First to Review
    I will start off this review with a few caveats:

    1) While Arc En Ciel Restaurant is not paying me anything, I am volunteering my time to help the restaurant with its marketing efforts.
    2) Because of this, the restaurant has fed me some food on the house.
    3) I would not write this review if I could not vouch for the tastiness and preparation of the food.

    And now for a review:

    Arc en Ciel means rainbow in French, so with a name like that you’d expect French food – it’s not – the menu offers an assortment of Vietnamese and Chinese Dishes.

    • You will love this.

      According to YELP, you can get free things and its ok if you admit it.

      From YELPS FAQ
      Does Yelp mind if I get a freebie in exchange for my review?

      Please don’t write a five-star review of your local watering hole in exchange for a free drink. That said, if you independently luck into a free drink or two because of your charming personality, by all means, enjoy the largesse but don’t forget to mention the free perks when writing your review.

      HOWEVER, It is a shady that he mentions he is helping with their marketing, because whether he is getting paid or not, he admits they give him something free in “exchange” for help, he did not just luck into a free meal. This is a major conflict of interest. If you are doing a companies marketing, there is no way to be impartial and you are considered working for them. I am sure he flashed his YELP elite badge, and the restaurant fell over themselves trying to please him. SO of course he got excellent service! YELP elite love to get free stuff and they don’t luck into anything.

      You should flag this. He tried to look impartial by giving four stars but fact of the matter is, this is the companies first review and its from an Elite so it helps. I am sure he will be watching their reviews, asking fellow Yelpers to also review and making sure there are no negative reviews. After all, he is doing their Marketing!

      I was at a Ramen place once, when I over heard an Elite telling the waitress she was YELP elite and if there were discounts for YELP reviewers. I laughed out loud when the lady, who could barely speak english, asked what YELP was.

  37. khandrola

    I had a weird yelp experience: I left a 4 start POSITIVE review and yelp removed it and sent me this message:

    Yelp HQ
    To khandrola@yahoo.com

    ” Hi Khandi,

    We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed your review of Central Self Storage. Your review was flagged by the Yelp community, and our Support team has determined that it falls outside our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because it lacks a substantive first-hand experience. When reviewing, please describe your actual experience with a business.

    We hope you will continue to provide great reviews, while keeping in mind our Content Guidelines. See you on Yelp!

    Yelp User Support
    San Francisco, California”

    I had a space here for 18 months so I fail to see how I lacked “actual experience” with them.

    • Yeah this is common. They will remove posts if they feel you violate review policies. The biggest offender is people ranting but not actually talking about their specific experience. Another one is hearse. If your review contains too much of what you “heard” from others, they will remove your comment. I would like to see your review. Did you save it?

  38. Tom G

    That idiot Steve above is a main part of the problem as he has zero clue how Yelp’s business model works, and their evil (what should be illegal) tactics, and so is just another ignorant Droid being used to continue the charade! Yelp needs to be taken down and out and as soon as possible!

    • It is common for the Elite and Yelpers to repeat the same arguments. It proves my point that if they had their own businesses they would get it.

    • Tom G

      No, I’m one of those business owners they tried to blackmail to advertise and I refused as we had a great rating – so now only the bad and fake reviews are on my site (28 left) and all 45 of my 5 star reviews have been filtered.

  39. laura

    Thanks for this…I own a business and 3 of my positive reviews have been filtered for what reason? An ex employee with no kids (we are a mostly kid oriented business) left a review and that remains. I contacted Yelp to remove it because he is bitter and NEVER worked inside my business, just at outside events yet it remains. MAKES NO SENSE. Now my instincts were correct. Smelled scam from the beginning.

  40. I just set up our company yelp page, and I have get calls from Yelp for 2 days. since I google it. ppl say it just advertising so I didn’t pick up the call. Not sure will they call again tomorrow.

  41. This is a very interesting article, however, I have to take exception to your claims.

    “Elites are not allowed to be business owners. Why? Because YELP knows that people who don’t own businesses can’t relate or care how damaging bad reviews are. YELP also does not want businesses to have any control or understanding of the inner workings of YELP.”

    So, your assertion is that once someone attains Elite status, they can no longer understand crappy service? I’ve been nominated Elite for two years in a row now and I’ve not been paid anything. I don’t accept “gifts” from businesses, and I often find myself unable to attend Yelp events, yet I still review businesses, and I write positive and negative reviews based on my experience and nothing more. So finally consumers have a way to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction and businesses only complain when they have a bunch of unhappy customers. Rather than wonder why revenue, profits and return customers are down, you want to blame some third-party forum? How lame. Here’s a thought – put some energy into figuring out how to make your product or service better than the next guy and you won’t have to worry about Yelp reviews.

    Sure, there will be people that abuse Yelp and use it for their own personal bashing site, but that hardly means that ALL reviewers are BS.

    • Thank you for your comments.

      No that is not what I was saying. I was pointing out the reasoning behind Yelp not allowing Elite to be business owners.

      As someone who went from reviewing someone as a non business owner to becoming a business owner, I know first hand the difference in how you review. You start to look at the review process a little differently and a little more maturely and objectively because you understand how damaging reviews can be. Running a business is hard. There are many good decent businesses out there getting bad reviews because of the most ridiculous things. Things like the 365 day promotions or other challenges that encourages mass reviewing to increase their numbers and it brings out the worst in the reviewers.

      Of course there are exceptions and I am not so much slamming Elite as I am Yelp for how they use the Elite to drive Advertising that damages businesses reputations. They hand pick Elite who are in a certain demographic. There are some great Elite reviewers, but there are more who are very immature ones that have no idea about the real world and one day when they pour their blood and sweat into their dream of having their own business, they will look at things very differently and not be so quick to annihilate a business.

      Your comment about using the reviews to improve your business is a valid one. But it is also the same tired rhetoric that Yelp uses to defend the bad press. You aren’t addressing the real issue and that isn’t that people have a problem with review sites or bad reviews, is is that the reviews are not balanced. YELP’s system is flawed and produces unfair and unbalanced reviews. There is plenty of facts out there that prove this, not to mention the thousands of businesses experiencing it first hand.

      The argument is for a balanced and fair review system. And until that happens this conversation will continue.

  42. Jackey melon

    Is there any lawsuits yet concerning yelp’s coercion . They force you to do business with them or they ruin your business.

  43. frontman

    I have a negative review which I do not agree with on yelp.Others have left positive reviews and they are GONE!! Leaving only the one from the crazy lady,who is full of shit.Where is the balance here?Yelp is a farce.I think they are full of shit too.

    • This is the main issue businesses have with Yelp. Expect a sales call soon.

    • Thank you for this page. I too have fallen under the ax of Yelp and their screening software. You were right, just like clockwork I was solicited to pay for Yelp advertising. Based on the conversation it appeared as a “Pay to Play” offer from Yelp. I was blown away by their boldness.

      My conversation went on for 37 minutes in which the guy tried and tried to close me. I went as far as to tell him if he felt so strongly about his product, then give me 1 free month of paid service and then we would review his performance. Of course, this was met with a big old “I can’t do that”. No surprise there.

      I would of cut the conversation short but I rather enjoyed giving him a piece of my mind and hopefully starting his day off like shit. Basically that is what Yelp did to me, so I only thought it fair to pay it forward.

      In summary, Yelp in their Unfair and Unbalance screening saw fit to remove nearly all positive reviews and leave the one negative front and center. To follow that up with a sales call is what I would call extortion plain and simple. I will do all that I can to pass along the negative experience I have had with Yelp.

      I wish you all better luck with these ass clowns.


  44. shaghayegh

    this was interesting. I have heard that yelp charges the business owners to HELP them increase the positive reviews but this will cost a lot! I know a lady owning and managing a restaurant who ended up paying $800 for a month in order to increase the positive reviews but of course this was only enough for one month!!!!

  45. marilyn

    the elite members are the filter, the paid scum of Yelp, how can we show they are making a profit from the negative remarks by forcing
    a group of targets to advertise with yelp, so they can claim a portion of the profit

    • Are you saying that Elite get a portion of the profit of advertising? I have never heard that before. I know a few Elite and they aren’t getting anything like that. Where did you hear this?

  46. Natalie

    Anyone notice that Yelp’s recently released YouTube video, in which Jeremy Stoppleman defends the Yelp filter, doesn’t allow comments or ratings? How ironic.

    • Ha! Yes I saw that. Of course he doesn’t want people “reviewing” his comments. More Yelp propaganda.

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