YELP Sucks 3 – Now they lock your business name

So if you  haven’t already read my other posts from my YELP SUCKS series I suggest you check them out as they go into pretty much everything people complain about on YELP.

This post is about the latest issue I was told about.  I just got done checking it out and wow, it is really bad.

SO as most of you know, YELP encourages your business to claim your business listing so you can make sure your information is correct, monitor traffic and respond to reviews.

A client of mine went to change her business address to the new address and decided to change the name to something that didn’t contain similar search term as her competitor.    She actually legally changed her business name because of YELP.  The reason why is because when you Google her name, her Yelp business listing shows up but so does her competitor, right underneath.  And she has 1 less star than her competitor.  This started to happen when her competitor starting advertising on YELP.  She had hoped that if she changed her business name to remove the similar keywords, this would fix this issue.  (incidentally I tested this, and it doesn’t which I will go into later)

After about a week she noticed her info was all changed back and this time she had little LOCKS on the top of the fields and is no longer allowed to edit her own business listing!

SO now she has a listing with the wrong address and business name and they wont let her change it.

So I realized why they are doing this.

Businesses who do not want to be on YELP figured out by changing the name and info, they would no longer be found on YELP.  This is YELPs way of forcing you to keep your listing.

Problem is, that much like their auto filter, the good guys get caught in this.  And once again, it conveniently lends to benefiting advertising and here is how.

I started to notice that when a competitor advertises, their glowing listing with 5 stars shows in searches right along side their competitors who often don’t have as good as a rating review on YELP.   When you advertise, YELP will make it so your competitors no longer show on your YELP page.  And they optimize it so google will index the advertisers YELP page (your competitor) right next to you.

YELP benefits from this in 2 ways.

THE Advertiser is happy because they see their 5 star review next to  your 4 star in Google and will most likely get the business as those will think they are better.

And you the person who looks bad will be pressured into advertising so your competitor will be removed from your YELP page, and you will hopefully get your positives unfiltered so you get the 5 start pretty Google search result too.

And once again, the benefit comes at your expense.  You either lose business from looking bad, or have to pay them to fix it.

Sounds to me like YELP is still in the business of extortion, they are just finding less obvious ways to go about it since they keep getting busted on it.

Once again, you have to speak out about this. HERE is a great page on all the things you need to do.



23 replies
  1. Robert
    Robert says:

    I tried to change my business info and got this

    “Our customer support team has recently reviewed and locked this field to prevent further changes.”
    take a look at this train wreck

    Campaign start
    5 days ago
    This Month
    11 clicks, $200.00 spent
    $18.18 avg CPC
    (My entire budget was gone in one day)
    And I just signed a one year ad contract, And so far they have not responded to my phone calls or emails, And have a 1000.00 cancellation fee, although they haven’t delivered what I expected at all. This is going to be interesting. ..

  2. Randy
    Randy says:

    Here’s one for you. Yelp has a review for a different business located in the same building as mine, and they will not remove the reviews. Different business, different services, different phone number, different owners, different name, just in the same building (address no suite #), what BS. I have contacted an attorney, and Yelp hides behind the law which basically states “this is freedom of speak, and we cant prevent people from posting what they want”. My attorney recommend after 23 years of being in business, I change the name of my business, or cough up for starters $15,000 to find the people and sue the one who posted the comments. Now 5 months later and I still can’t get the jerks at Yelp to change my address. Yelp Sucks is a understatement.

    • Randy
      Randy says:

      PS. one more comment. Did you know yelp owns the domain Interesting they know it and are doing damage control. So go to to post more of your stories.

    • BOSS Hawaii
      BOSS Hawaii says:

      Yes I have heard this before as I said in my article, my client actually legally changed her name to avoid being confused with someone else and they wont let her change it. To this day it is still wrong. So many flaws with the Yelp system. Thanks for sharing though, the more people share their stories the better!

  3. Greg Marcus
    Greg Marcus says:

    I generally dont read blogs, except for my sisters Kissmygumbo
    Yours is really well written and unfortunately true. I just had an argument on the phone with yelp and being in wedding transportation they have most definately damaged a small family business now being an App on phones. I dont let it bother me too much but can not leave it alone is the bitterness these computer people can do for their own selfish personal gain. The Yelp Account Mgr. Paul told me if I gave him $1,000 he would not remove the review and said now you see the Power of Yelp. That got under my skin. Greg

  4. Yoda Flow
    Yoda Flow says:

    EVERYBODY LISTEN UP. I have spend the past two weeks trying to edit buisiness information on Yelp. I’ve read countless forums and I could literally write pages on how fucked up much of their admin systems are. But alas, we need Yelp. I’m writing this post to save all you people LOTSSSS OF TIME AND FRUSTRATION. Here is the SECRET. (You can thank me later, or better yet, take me for a beer.)

    IF YOU WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TAKEN CARE OF ON YOUR BUSINESS INFORMATION PAGE OF YELP (BEFORE OR AFTER THOSE LITTLE BULLSHIT LOCKS ARE PLACED BY THE BLANK SPACE), CONTACT THE ADVERTISING DEPARTMENT. This means that you send a request to Yelp saying that you are interested in Advertising. AN ACTUAL PERSON WILL CALL YOU BACK. Tell them you want an email for all the advertising offers they have for your industry (nice to have anyway) and oh by the way, can you please help me CHANGE MY FUCKING BUSINESS INFORMATION. Just joking. Don’t be rude. They will have you issued fixed by the next morning.


  5. Lianna dreyfus
    Lianna dreyfus says:

    Ian ? from Yelp called in June and July 2012 to discuss advertising. I told them about my reviews disappearing. I got the standard story, however, when I began to discuss spending $350 a month in advertising in a serious way, all my reviews appeared within 24 hours. I asked them to give me until October to rearrange my budget to accommodate Yelp advertising. No problem, said he. My reviews stayed. He even helped with keywords and rewriting to draw customers, no charge….

    On 10/23/12, Yelp called and the man said he was replacing Ian but didn’t give a name. I told him I could not afford advertising at this time. Immediately, 4 of my reviews disappeared. 3 clients who found me on Yelp told me they had written me a positive review in November. One, the briefest and least praising, appeared.

    It was still positive, however my other clients told me they had written absolutely glowing reviews when I saw them again. So Yelp picked the worst of 3.

    They called again 11/20/12, after I complained about my missing reviews.

    Again, I’m getting the standard story, but it can be “researched” if I pay the $350 a month, and apparently, they exist, but aren’t even filtered anymore. They are simply being held hostage. He even read one to me.

    And now I cannot change my business address, so walk-ins who would see me are now seeing the new identical type of practitioner who rents the space I occupied.

    And I’m told that the online special I created for Yelp cannot be accessed by users.

    So, essentially, Yelp is misdirecting my clients, denying them access to my correct address, denying them feedback from other users, denying me access to my own business information, and placing brightly colored advertising blocks around me in such a way, that users report that they cannot quite tell which is my phone number. They have called the advertised party in error.

    Meanwhile, no actual live person will speak to me regarding these issues at Yelp. Yet I had a 2+
    hour phone conversation with Ian about advertising, and he called me back twice weekly for 6 weeks to chat.

    If 5000 businesses buy this package monthly, which is a very small number, Yelp is making $1,750,000 MONTHLY in advertising. That’s 21 million dollars a year. One would think they could afford to pay live customer service staff.

    Not bad for people who were building a trustworthy, community-based, organically driven site.

    • BOSS Hawaii
      BOSS Hawaii says:

      Thanks for the details. This is a very good example of the kind of notes businesses need to make and report. Recording conversations is even better. They continually deny they do this, but so many people experience otherwise. If enough report this, something will have to be done so keep it up!

      • Marc
        Marc says:

        I have copied this from another site and this makes really good reading.

        I have been in business for a long time and for the life of me, I can’t understand why people choose to bash a business on a review site rather than talk to the owner or manager of a small business directly. Believe me, small business owners don’t get up in the morning and say, “I think I will provide poor service today so that someone will give me a bad review on Yelp!” Are things perfect all the time? No. We might have an employee having a bad day or equipment issues, etc. that result in a less-than-optimal experience for a client. However, the mature person will contact me directly and like most small business owners, I will bend over backwards to make it right and appreciate the opportunity to gain feedback and improve my business. This is a win-win for both the client and myself. Most small business owners hate online reviews because they feel trapped and a situation that could easily be handled with discretion and tact is now a bad mark on the business’s reputation for all to see. But, it is your constitutional “right” to post on review sites. That is what our men and women in the military are fighting for, right? Freedom of speech and your ability to bash small businesses! Personally, I think review sites are for cowardly people with no social skills. Small businesses are the folks in your community who hire your friends and neighbors. Small businesses are the folks who support local charities, school booster clubs, etc., and give your community local flavor beyond the big box store. Why would any mature person want to hurt their local small businesses? Also Mike, the review filter is more than a “frustration” for a small business owner: it is truly hurting/killing quite a few wonderful small businesses because the filter is a one-size-fits-all strategy that works against small businesses with fewer reviews. These are most likely businesses in small towns or suburban areas where the public is less beholden to social networks. While large city businesses might have hundreds of reviews (and where negative and positive reviews accurately balance each other), businesses in small towns or suburban areas might only have a few reviews, and if you look at all the criticism of YELP by small businesses, their review filter typically filters all the good reviews and leaves the bad. That bad review might be the banner review that potential customers see when they are looking for your business. They might not even bother to unlock the filtered reviews if they see only 1 or 2 stars. It sure would be nice if YELP would consider a threshold: leave all reviews visible under a threshold of let’s say, 30-40 reviews. And I would like to mention something about YELP’s customer service – it’s non-existent. Businesses don’t have a choice about being listed in YELP’s directory – we’re forced into it and the only way to contact YELP is to “claim” your business and email them. They hardly ever respond but they are awfully good about calling every week to ask you to buy their expensive (and useless) advertising! YELP salespeople are among the most rude and aggressive internet salespeople. And are you one of the eliter’s who goes into a business and demands a “comp” in exchange for NOT writing a bad review? That’s the other dark side of YELP and a practice that YELP refuses to help small business owners with. YELP does nothing for the small business owner so most of us are loathe to work with them…that’s why they have to extort!

  6. Brett
    Brett says:

    I’m pretty sure Yelp is blackmailing my business. First of all, they hide several good reviews and only show a bad review, which we can’t do anything about, even though it’s not a fair review at all. I can respond, but then I have to submit a personal picture which will be shown any time I post, and the picture will be reviewed by Yelp staff to make sure it’s legit. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want my picture on there.

    So then Yelp asks me to advertise on their website, which I don’t even want to be on in the first place. The way they describe it, by advertising with them we would have more control and a more beneficial tone to our spot on Yelp. Isn’t that blackmail?

    • BOSS Hawaii
      BOSS Hawaii says:

      Sorry to here it. This is the common claim. Many people have different stories about what Yelp promises when they offer advertising, problem is that it can’t be proved. If anyone gets called from Yelp about advertising, record it. Ask them specifically how advertising is going to help their profile especially if their positive reviews are filtered or they have negative reviews affecting their ratings. Get names, time of call etc. then send it to me and I will post it.

  7. brandon tait
    brandon tait says:

    Instead of locking…a bi-directional communication with both parties will lead to a proper way and result into a good review…a moderator is to be set which provides a positive output to both party can resolve the dispute

  8. Chaz Valenzaa
    Chaz Valenzaa says:

    Ralph Nader just sent me an email about how advertising (example GM pulling out of the Super Bowl and Facebook) doesn’t work. I wrote back this. Maybe more of us writing Ralph can get him to so something about YELP.

    Forget corporate advertising! The corporations are on to new ways of making money, like extortion. See: YELP where every day small businesses are forced to buy advertising to make up for the fact that YELP suppresses positive reviews on a special page where users must enter pass codes (called filtered reviews) and publishes negative reviews that spur the need to advertise. The courts have ruled this is NOT extortion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.

    What YELP is doing is like posting a person in front of your business and as potential consumers arrive and look around they see other customers coming and going. If you are a potential customer, the YELP person blocks your way from asking about the service from customers that were pleased. (Why?) But the YELP person will let the potential customer hear from disgruntled customers. (YELP claims they have created a really, really smart computer program that is just sorting reviews that are more valid (?) from those that are less valid (?) But they will not explain how they do this.) Hence, many potential customers never give the business a chance, unless….

    When the business owner finds what’s going on they are directed to contact YELP, claim their business page and then buy advertising from the person standing between them and potential customers. But somehow, this is not extortion!?!

    So, Mr. Nader, let the corporations spend all they want on advertising. My bet is that for most of them it works. How about helping us small businesses against the new extortion mob?

  9. b.b.
    b.b. says:

    My complaint wont go through to the Better Business Bureau, they would just direct me else where. My complaint to the California Attorney General’s office, they replied and said they can’t do anything about it and that I should file a small claims in court. ( which I am going to proceed to do).
    Have not heard back from the FTC yet, perhaps I should call instead of waiting! Blah, YELP really does suck and they probably feel more embolden than ever to do whatever they feel like since winning the class action lawsuits. When will the little guys be heard?!

  10. Danny Antwi
    Danny Antwi says:

    Thanks for your efforts on this issue. I have a solution in the works coming out this fall…..

    I’m really sorry about these complaints you all have because review sites like this are necessary for both consumer and businesses to gauge client satisfaction which is a mutually desirable end.

    What have you done about it since learning about this, it can be frustrating but throw your support behind and honest and thought out start-up or even an existing service like it of your choosing. I’m sorry google hasn’t developed that and faacebook is not a solution either.

    This might appear self-serving but note this, I decided to start RaveOrBash because of my deep concerns for consumer issues being one.

    This fall, we will change the face of consumer reviews, we’ll tackle fraud and cliquey memberships among others.

    i’ll keep you posted but follow us on twitter for more updates and throw your support behind us now on by liking us and sharing with your network.

    A balanced consumer review site for all is on it’s way to being your destination on the web for all consumer reviews.

    This Fall

  11. Chelsea Cizek
    Chelsea Cizek says:

    Ignorance at its finest in this blog. Your article may appear to be informative “insider” information to readers who aren’t familiar with the way online advertising / Yelp works, but to anyone who is even a little savvy, you just sound ridiculous.

    • BOSS Hawaii
      BOSS Hawaii says:

      awwww darn, and here I was thinking everyone thought I WAS savvy…lol.

      SO ok, feel free to educate us. In fact any “savvy” people out there who want to prove me wrong, please do so, I will post it.

      I find it very interesting that every time I write a story about YELP, the first and ONLY negative response comes from the BAY AREA from the same bundle of IP addresses. I mean, within 24 hours of being published. Just enough time for someone tracking YELP conversations to receive an alert? Why is it that the only people defending YELP come from the BAY AREA?

      BAY AREA…YELP HOME OFFICE. Just saying.


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