"Wow, you can sit at home and trash a business anonymously in your artisan pajamas, destroy what someone has worked so hard for. A passion your bitter life will never know...are you living a 5-star life, my friend? Can I follow you around and review you?"
We have had great reviews over the years, but this culture of one-way reviewing bugs the hell out of me. Site like Yelp, that give all of the control to the snarky user and no protection for the small business owner...its no wonder that no one wants to advertise with them and they are sinking like a rock. As a small business owner, why would I want to fund a company that doesnt have my best interests and protection at heart? (and that's exactly what I tell them when they call to peddle their wares).
Dd you get that one..."peddle/pedal". That's free.
As of this writing, we have 80 5-star reviews, of which Yelp has decided to hide 68 and show 12. No other business that I have come across has such a similar black-out ratio.
It all started a few years ago, right when I started. I actually choose to advertise on Yelp for an intro 3 month period because I didn't know any better. When the 3 month period ended, I didn't continue and was met by some hard-sell tactics from my account rep. The day I finally refused, my reviews went from 18 5-star reviews down to 2, and we've been blacklisted ever since.
Yelp claims their filtering algorithm is purely automated, out of human influence, and looks for suspicious reviews. Yeah, I hired 68 people to write my reviews. I have been able to copy them all to my website, however. See them ALL here.
I have heard of lawsuits where Yelp has approached businesses to advertise and make good reviews show up, and bad ones go away. It's a digital shakedown, and they have tried that crap with me a number of times. You can guess my response.
Here's the rub...many people (although fewer every week) take Yelp very seriously and use it to make shopping /eating decisions. I am thusly forced to keep my hat in the ring and include a like to our Yelp site on my website. I would recommend Google Places, as that site takes reviews from a number of feeds and paints a more honest picture.