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Seeking Advice From Idiots : Small Business Nightmare

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posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 03:25 AM
Yelp and similar sites allow people to post reviews of user experience of different businesses and services claiming to help people make informed decisions on their next purchase, restaurant choice or just about anything else that can be bought with money.

However, there has been controversy regarding these kinds of services, with some business owners claiming a type of extortion where the reviewing company asks businesses to buy advertising and when it doesn't make a sale, owners claim that negative reviews begin popping up.

Yelp claims to have an automated filtering system that filters out both negative and positive reviews that are deemed "suspicious" by their algorithms. They have no disclosed how this function works, but swear that reviews are not filtered by any bias.

Yet, yelping the yelp, (so-to-speak) or finding reviews on the review service, will quickly lead people to see that many claim Yelp's ad executives have threatened or inferred their business would suffer should they not buy ads.

Yelp made headlines this week after a California restaurant made a sign alleging that Yelp representatives told owners that if they wanted a higher rating on the site, they should buy ads.

Kristen Whisenand, a Yelp spokeswoman, said the company does not favor advertisers over anyone else.

Read more:


John's restaurant has more than one hundred reviews, and averages a healthy 3.5-star rating. But when John asked Mike what he could do about his bad reviews, he recalls the sales rep responding: "We can move them. Well, for $299 a month." John couldn't believe what the guy was offering. It seemed wrong.

Let's forget for a second there may be truth to some of the allegations. And lets just look at the service for what it is. User generated content, reviews by the commoner, the people like you and me. (Or so some would like to believe.)

Now, I am sure everyone is aware that there are professions dedicated to reviewing things. There are publications, television shows, not just professions but entire industries built off this kind of thing.

Why would you take someone's advice over the person who's job it is to do this kind of thing? Well, for one, many might presume bias by the professional reviewer. Maybe they think the company being reviewed is also an advertiser, so they aren't going to get the full story. Maybe the professional has more money they have, so they want something from someone who is looking through the glass in the same financial circumstances.

I will explain why you don't always want this kind of advice and why sometimes it is indeed better, to leave it up to the professionals.

► Professionals are professional for a reason, and they didn't just wake up one day and decide to be a critic. They have a number of lists they check off when reviewing something. If you are going to buy a car, you don't want the superficial golddigger down the street who wears stilettos to the gym to be reviewing your family sedan. Give her a death trap with shiny objects and a loud speaker system and she might give it ★★★★★

► I find the Yelpers and equivalents have a bit of a complex. They have been given a great power (influence) and are not afraid to wield it. Any passive aggressive automaton who does their daily grind eating flak from everyone in their company instantly gets super powers and becomes a small business's greatest super-villian. Absolute power corrupts absolutely as they say.

Transference of anger is considered the most childish emotion that plagues our world, yet it is one of the most prevalent. Take any husband or wife who takes a beating from their better half without venting, any lowly worker who take abuse from their boss without ever voicing their discontent and you have someone with a lot of pent up anger.

You don't really want to be taking advice from this person, as their vindictiveness is not actually coming from their experience of the place being reviewed, but from the problems in their life they are unwilling to address.

Yelper discussion on reviewing

►You are not him, I am not you, he is not I and we are not them.

Some people only care about money. They will ★☆☆☆☆ one star a company simply because it was out of their price range. A review should be about the quality of service or product provided. Price should only reflect a very small portion of a rating and only reflect the value of what's in question; if price was the only contributing factor to whether or not something is good, the cheapest things out there would always be ★★★★★ five star.

►Opinons are opinions and misinformed opinions are a display of pure ignorance.

I am not a fan of indie rock mosh pit venues, although I've heard of them and I'm sure they are quite appealing to a good number of people in the segment that makes up their demographics.

This is the reason I would be a terrible review on something of that ilk.

So too are other reviewers reviewing something they are unfamiliar or misinformed on.

I noticed a couple of my favourite places with terrible reviews on Yelp. Some of it is a cultural misunderstanding,

"They didn't give us utensils what kind of place is this?"

*Eat with your hands as it is a traditional ethnic venue, and that's how the cuisine is meant to be consumed.

"The music was terrible."

*K-Pop doesn't appeal to everyone, however, eating Korean BBQ is always better with Super Junior playing in the background.

"OMG it was so expensive, what a waste of money! I'm going to eat at the other Chinese place down the road, they have Chop Sooey for $5 and it's huge portions!"

*Ahh, seems you are one of the dumb Gwai Los that make Chinese people think Westerners are a hopeless cause of ignorance. Chinese food that has been westernized is not Chinese food anymore than a Tofu duck burger is a Big Mac.

If you go to China, you will find Plum sauce in the ketchup dispensers and they have no idea what a deep fried white-chicken-meat burger is like, because they only serve dark meat there. North America has the same thing with Chinese food, none of it is eaten in China and most people would there would call it American food.

Granted, with British rule in Hong Kong for as long as it was, and the borders finally being open in China, you will find a much bigger culture mix nowadays. However, the crap you eat from Wing-Ding China-Thing, is not real Chinese.

Why does this matter for small business so much? Well, for one, larger brands have millions of dollars on advertising, and even with bad reviews their brand image can be created and protected simply by blasting ad campaigns over multiple platforms. One or even ten bad Yelp reviews are hardly going to penetrate the virtual armour of hundreds of billboards telling someone "THIS PLACE IS GOOD!"


"I often talk to other business owners who are going through what I am," Wells said. "People aren't going to look up a review for the big chains, they're going to look up reviews for smaller places they haven't heard of."

Read more:

edit on 26-7-2013 by boncho because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 03:41 AM

Originally posted by boncho
Yelp and similar sites allow people to post reviews ...

And for all the reasons you mention, they are a complete waste of time.
A similar version of that in Australia is truelocal and the experience is much the same. If you are a business paying them for an entry in their listing, then you are completely immune from any negative reviews. Negative reviews, no matter how minor, just get deleted.

User reviews are a difficult thing to monitor on the net, and I think ebay and Amazon probably do a better job than most to ensure that user experiences somewhat match the ratings the businesses have. But when, like Yelp or Truelocal, its all about the Benjamins and they dont care... then we all hope they just go bust.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 03:53 AM
reply to post by alfa1

Yes I agree actually, as ebay and some other services have resolution procedures to fix problems between the customer and vendor. They usually reflect a more accurate account of user experience.

Something I also forgot to mention in my OP, is what happens when a customer happens to visit a business on the one "bad day" out of an entire year. Or perhaps a week.

Humans and business (a construct by humans) are indeed fallible. We all make mistakes. But we shouldn't be punished for one or two mistakes for the rest of our existence, whether human or a human construct.

Some businesses might experience a shortage of product, or a bad employee who is subsequently fired. The review sites claim to show a "general or common user experience."

But perhaps the reviewer went in on a day when a disgruntled employee was mere hours away from quitting and decided to cuss out every customer he served. Or perhaps the business experienced an above average dinner rush and they were short 3 staff members.

Whatever the case, I've read forums of Yelpers claiming they want their reviews to stand no matter what, because, "If it happened to me it could happen to someone else."

Well, sorry.

A shoddy/shady business could have 100s of bad user experience but only one of those people decide to Yelp. On the other hand, a great business could have 100s of good user experiences but no one Yelps on them because they figure everyone already knows how good it is.

It is a majorly flawed system.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 04:15 AM
Maybe flawed but I got a bang up deal on my car because of Yelp.

Walked into the dealership, not using their financing, check in hand from my bank.

I ask the salesman for a test drive, he looks me up and down and says "I don't know you even have a job"

I had just gotten done working on my wife's car that died and was a mess, manager on duty at the dealer ship was Unapologetic to the insult.

ONE yelp review and I got the car at below dealer cost, I stated the facts and was contacted by the owner. I took down the review and parted ways with a new car.

ETA: when I say mess, I mean I had just changed out of my shop clothes into flip flops shorts and white T, hands banged up from removing engine parts, I was clean just worse for the wear.

When Im about to drop 27k at your business you better treat me like I # gold even if I come dressed as a clown. Ive worked sales and customer service, customers can be d-bags, at the end of the day they are the reason you get paid.

as for the yelp ads its very clear what they are, the ads they want them to buy will pop up when someone looks for a business listing, and if you paid for an ad your place will pop up there above what they are looking at. THAT Drives traffic, which if you don't treat your customers like # will increase your ratings.
edit on 26-7-2013 by benrl because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 04:39 AM
Review websites are completely useless.

There are so many factors to take into account when judging the authors experience.

I could have a wonderful time at a venue, yet it could be someone else worst nightmare.

You would be a fool to not go somewhere you wanted to, based on someone elses opinion.

Go and see for yourself.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 08:21 AM
Yelp (and TripAdvisor/Angies List, etc) may have results that vary.

But with Yelp and absolutely should take them seriously as a business owner.

Perception is the key. Reality doesn't matter.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 10:10 AM
Nothing beats self realization and experience. However I do consider anywhere from 1 to 10 reviews from various sources as a guideline before exploring any entities/services/products listed on multiple websites.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 03:43 PM
As a member of ATS I am very good at understanding reviews by rating sites.

First, I read all of the one star reviews.
Almost every one of them is because they didn't like the salesperson, waiter, attendant etc... OR their package arrived a day late or their pizza got there in 31 minutes.
These I dismiss unless the product is directly influenced by who is selling it.

Next I look at the top ratings which are usually genuine but you can pick out the shills most of the time. These are the ones written with such extreme adoration that you can just see the tears of joy welling up in the writers eyes as he/she posts.

Then I check the actual REVIEWS in the middle of the pack and can almost always make a good decision.

I simply need to do what I do here.
1. disregard personal animosity based on petty thought.
2. disregard blind adulation
3. read opinions based on fact and think about what is motivating the individual to actually write that post.

I know it's a long way to go to find the best burger or buy an new camera or come to the conclusion that chemtrails are there to kill leprechauns,

but you gotta avoid the idiots somehow.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 04:05 PM
As a consumer, I feel that sites such as Yelp give me a voice. If it is bad enough experience I'll take it to the BBB, but when it is a great experience, I like to share it with as many people as I can, especially mom and pop type stores.

posted on Aug, 16 2013 @ 08:28 AM
I agree that Yelp is not good for small businesses, and possibly gives a consumer too much power which should come from more than one experience at a place. It would really chap my hide if I had to monitor crummy ad-driven sites for my business' rating & then deal with the sites customer service if there was an issue. Also, the algorithm thing for taking out reviews is SKETCHY. Sign-up to review and it's likely to be posted; post as a one-time poster, it's automaticaly flagged. Like I want to give my information TO YELP. PuhLeeze.

posted on Aug, 16 2013 @ 11:24 AM
reply to post by benrl

You're post totally confused me. LOL
But hey I am easily confused. If I was going to spend 27K on a car and had the money in my hand to spend, you better believe I would want some respect from the salesman.

I also think it is pretty poor form for the review site to make bad reviews disappear once you have spent the money to advertise with them. That seems like BLACKMAIL to me.

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