Yelp is a site where many people, including myself goes to for reviews on companies, restaurants, hotels, etc. The site was intended for people that used a company's product or services so they may comment on their experiences so others could use it to make a decision on whether or not to use the company reviewed.
If you look at the history of Yelp it is a bit rocky. Claims of forcing companies to advertise on Yelp or have their reviews removed, (Yelp Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Site Runs 'Extortion Scheme') to fake and phony reviews from competitors, employees of the company being reviewed, ex-employees, etc. Lawsuits can also be found suing non-customers, competitors and even Yelp itself. Even the reviewers are getting in on the action suing Yelp because the company wouldn't exist without their reviews (Yelp Reviewers File Class-Action Lawsuit Claiming They Are Unpaid Writers).
Advertisements from Internet review sites directly take aim at Yelp stating boldly that their website is different than Yelp because they have 'real reviews'.
Made up reviews from people not paying for services from the company really should not be commenting on companies, whether the review is good or bad.
It got to the point where it seems that one hotel owner in NY recently was discovered to have a policy to charge the bride and groom for any negative review on Yelp. The fee was a whopping $500/each. This is not something that I am making up to make this article more sensational, it's true. Click here to see the YAHOO story.
You may think oh that's great - get the word out on this scoundrel - then perhaps as I did, you look at the hotel's Yelp account. Wow, page after page of 1 star reviews forcing the hotel into a spiral that they may not be able to recover from and comments to the affect asking if they were out of business yet.
Of course there were reviews that just said negative comments about the policy, and I saw one that said they were new to Yelp but thought that you needed to use the service to review it. Well that is the point, that you are reading about people that were actually using the service or staying at the hotel, but of course that person made a comment with 5 stars without staying there either.
The media and social media (the post was on facebook according to some of the posts) has worked the readers into a frenzy and giving the hotel a lot of publicity good or bad.
The next time you read a Yelp review - examine it carefully, is it from the owner or employee of the company, the competition, an irate neighbor upset about neighborhood expansion taking it out on the new businesses. There are many reasons why a firm can get a good or bad rating. The best bet is to cross check it with another rating company like Diamond Certified or even Angie's List. At least you will get a better idea of how other sites rate the company.
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