San Francisco, California—Yelp reviews have been a source of frustration for small businesses ever since the company’s launch ten years ago. In an effort to reach out to small businesses, the social review site has scheduled a series of town hall-style meetings. However, the most recent good will gesture turned into an opportunity for attending business owners to voice their displeasure with the company’s rating system.
The review platform has begun to make changes, hoping to improve its credibility with the public at-large. The social site just rolled out a new feature for mobile reviews, something it has disallowed since its inception. In addition, the company has begun a campaign which targets fake reviews, a practice some businesses have engaged to gain a more favorable rating.
Yelp Reviews Panned
Business owners attending the town hall unabashedly shamed the company for not policing its site better. Some attendees noted that Yelpers have left “inflammatory comments” and posted negative reviews about their restaurants to spite the fact those same reviewers had never been in the business’ establishment.
But the focus of criticism centered around the site’s rating system, which the majority of business owners believe is rigged, according to a news report published by the Los Angeles Times. Business owners argue that positive reviews are filtered arbitrarily, in-part because those businesses did not advertise with the social review network.
It’s All Depends on the Perspective
Yelp answered the allegations that its filtering system is biased against businesses which do not advertise on the site. Morgan Remmers, the review site’s manager of local business outreach, stated the filter is “automatic and based on ‘several objective data points’ that aren’t tied to advertising.” She did however concede that genuine reviews from legitimate patrons might get caught in the filter, though did not explain why. Yelp has insisted for years its filter does not punish businesses which do not advertise on the site, and states that companies may contact the site directly to deal with any problems.