Cry for Yelp

Friday, March 20, 2009


Given Yelp's immense popularity, a particularly harsh review can leave business owners feeling stunned and powerless. So one San Francisco restaurant decided to confront its worst reviews by emblazoning them on T-shirts. Delfina Restaurant owner Craig Stoll talks about running a restaurant in the age of Yelp.

    Music Playlist
  • 65 Bars and a Taste of Soul
    Artist: Charles Wright & the Watts 103'rd Street Rhythm Band

Comments [4]

Megan Smth from California

We are a small business and have the same mentioned issues with Yelp. We emailed Yelp with a suggestion in order to make the platform more "win win" for the posters and the business.

This is our email from us to Yelp: The concept of Yelp is to facilitate getting the "word out" about a local business or storefront. But I have to ask myself as consumer, and a review reader, more often than not it seems the reviews of MANY places are negative (not just my city but in other places as well).

Why would anyone waste their time to do a "good review"? I can understand the idea and intentions of Yelp; however, what seems to be lacking is the primary motivation (other than to gripe, vent or complain) for writing a review.

That brings the question: Could there be a way for the companies listed to hand out "Yelp Codes/Coupons or something" to their REAL customers? The function of the Yelp Code would be two fold, it would give verification an ACTUAL customer was given a login/access to make an honest review; and secondly, a reward to the customer/reviewer for their time (in the way of discounts or cash from the storefront - my time is money)! Just a thought!!!

This is the response from Yelp, which, in my option missed the point and then comcluded with a sales pitch: Manager for Yelp, "I've definitely taken notice to your review. As I see what you are saying, one thing to note is that more than 85 percent of businesses on Yelp have 3 stars and above. I can see where you might think that the majority of reviews come from disgruntled consumers, in all actuality, you'll notice that the majority of yelpers are all about spreading the word on local businesses. You can see the average star ratings administered by each user on their profile. :) And yes, businesses do have the option of uploading coupons to their business photos. They also can "claim their business page" for FREE. By doing so, they can manage their business info (hours, location, etc),...."

Apr. 15 2009 01:30 AM
Andrew Knight from Saint Louis, MO

Over a year ago my friend told me that he took his writing career online with a company called yelp. He told me he was being paid to review places. All well and good, as there are far more places in the world than there are reviewers or column inches, right? A few months ago Editor in Chief of Maximum PC Wil Smith revealed in a podcast that an applicant who had portrayed himself as a seasoned reviewer had only worked for Yelp, to the laughter of all the other editors in the podcast. The self same podcast that is very helpful and understanding to people who call in and ask mediocre questions laughed at someone for nothing more than thinking Yelp was an experience worth mentioning. Is it that Yelp provides a voice to those who should keep their mouths shut or is it that Yelp provides the same voice as traditional media without the benefit of the editor? I've never been to Yelp, but I'd be an idiot to think all of their reviews are worthless. I've written a few reviews for that I am certain have been helpful (they have links that assure me of this). I've never been to Yelp but I'd be an idiot to believe all of their reviews have merit. Should we just ignore Yelp until we find a new medium that strikes a balance? Word of mouth has never had a balance.

My mother told me that she is boycotting a BBQ stand because of the way it treated a fellow teacher. Because I have a low opinion of teachers I assumed, with no evidence, that my mother's co-worker was in the wrong. Are either of us correct? Yes. I was correct because the BBQ was delicious. That is how a restaurant should be reviewed. Is it good. Is it tasty. How was the service. Yelp goes for anecdote without any standard. Any experience can be ruined, but it takes skill to determine what is wrong once from what is wrong always.

Mar. 27 2009 03:34 AM
Michelle Tripp from New York

Great interview! It's nice to see the other side of the story and get a peek at how business owners feel about Yelp reviews. With that said, Yelp is an incredible way for customers to share their experiences, both good and bad.

In the past, a business that didn't care about customer service or provided an inferior service or product had total impunity. The customer could walk away upset and the business owner didn't have to care. Now with Yelp, business owners are being forced by the customer to do the right thing.

Yelp makes business owners honest. To prevent bad reviews they now have to hire better people, have a more positive management style, and produce a better product. They also have to get serious about their total offering and be prepared to satisfy even their most demanding customers. Because those are the ones who will write the fabulous reviews or the terrible ones.

As a marketing and brand consultant I consider Yelp a gift to business owners and corporate management. For years they've been told they can't just advertise, but they also have to live their promise. With Yelp they no longer have a choice.


Mar. 25 2009 09:30 AM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan Upper West Side

Most restaurants are mediocre at best and the bell curve of accurate reviews should ordinarily peak between 2 and 2.5 on a scale of 5, certainly not between 4 and 5 as appears to be the case with Yelp. Many of them serve the same commercial frozen/thawed main courses anyway. A score of 5 means the restaurant has no room at all for improvement, is the best of its type in food, ambience, service, d├ęcor and value.
Just as "problem detection" is the way consumer-products companies find out the truth about products, I always sort online reviews in reverse order, dismiss the first couple that are likely written by nuts and people with bones to pick, and figure the next half-dozen are the most relaible. Why would I read the raves at all?
The last time I was in the warehouse store a woman weighing about 350 pounds walked up to me and recommended a particular brand of pasta sauce. It seemed to me it was probably a good idea to get it if my goal is to weigh 350 pounds. She would probably rate Olive Garden at 5, too. Enough said?

Mar. 21 2009 07:57 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.