Yelp warns its users - AND shows evidence

Former Member

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I've known about the Yelp "warnings" they post on specific company pages that have been caught red handed trying to solicit or fake reviews, but I never knew they actually post the evidence!

This may not be news to most of you and probably has been happening for a long time, but I thought it was pretty interesting and a great example.



After clicking "show me the evidence", it brings you this page with actual screenshots that Yelp employees have taken during their sting operation:


 

Laustin1878

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At least the business owner took the initiative to draft the review..lol I never saw the evidence part either but it is quite interesting to see them trying to keep things genuine.
 

Greg Schueler

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Can you show us the link to it or at least the search query to get to it?

I have seen some of their warnings before, but not that version.
 

JacobMaslow

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Wow, this is pretty awful. It is straight out fraud.

Not that many people actually read reviews, he could have just had someone state that nice website and I will keep his number handy. This way you have the review and a better rating without the fraud that goes with fake customers.

Personally, I feel if you are going to go through the trouble, might as well get some real reviews. However, Yelp's hiding of reviews does frustrate many owners.


I've known about the Yelp "warnings" they post on specific company pages that have been caught red handed trying to solicit or fake reviews, but I never knew they actually post the evidence!

This may not be news to most of you and probably has been happening for a long time, but I thought it was pretty interesting and a great example.

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.localsearchforum.com%2Fattachment.php%3Fattachmentid%3D2359%26stc%3D1&hash=10d6abcf063e0f3c4141ad62d8e5708a


After clicking "show me the evidence", it brings you this page with actual screenshots that Yelp employees have taken during their sting operation:


proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.localsearchforum.com%2Fattachment.php%3Fattachmentid%3D2360%26stc%3D1&hash=5e444b35f2bd4a9f1c089a0c5600b0ff
 
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$75 could have bought some kind of email platform (Mail Chimp would be pretty easy), get a review form together, and send out to past customers. Then we have the time spent emailing back and forth which could have been spent managing a nurture list. Basically there are a million different ways to split it and use the time, but this guy definitely decided on the wrong path.

Good for Yelp for running the sting and getting this guy to fall for it. Sucks for that business.
 

heckler

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Is this a newer policy (public shaming)?

When doing this query on Google:

Code:
site:yelp.com "We caught someone red-handed trying to pay someone to write, change, or remove a review for this business."
I'm only getting 6 results (on Google). So is it a new policy? Or they just don't catch many people?

http://s3-media1.fl.yelpcdn.com/saphoto/-4OOLr7So6L5rkJVDXWXMw/o.jpg
http://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/saphoto/NH67b2O4mNbUiBjA_7uxWg/o.jpg
http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/saphoto/-AfyyCyWU7BX3TsQ8OdkOg/o.jpg
http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/saphoto/JHW_mRRIRY3nFIMuP0DPhw/o.jpg

Some of the actions were for paying to have negative reviews removed...
 

CodyBaird

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Only 6 results. Interesting. There will be many interesting battles in the upcoming years between consumers, businesses, and search engines/review sites. Reviews can make or break a business. They also can really empower consumers, maybe even give too much power for businesses that don't have a strategy to collect regularly to balance out the sentiment.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
 
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@Eric - I agree wholeheartedly - it's shocking to me what some small businesses will think is worthy of spending money on. In my experience it's been a (totally inaccurate) assumption that these one time actions can lead to positive and sustainable results. I met a new restaurant owner that spent > $1000 on an ad in the local (print) coupon clipper, but doesn't have a website yet.

With that said, there is one piece of this that continually frustrates me. I could be wrong, but the vibe I got from the ad this person placed is that he's received "legitimate" reviews from people and Yelp is filtering them all. SMBs generally won't understand the IT behind filtering - and when a legitimate customer leaves a review and it gets filtered, many of them feel like they have no choice but to ask for outside assistance. What this person did is totally wrong and I agree it should be called out, but there's a big difference between a legitimate business owner that is just frustrated with missing reviews (and no good explanation why other than "it's the way the filter works") and a business owner who is actively looking to game the system.
 

JacobMaslow

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He did not just have someone leave five stars saying "they do home calls" or something factual.

Had the reviewer pretend to be a customer and invent a tale of how far the business goes for its customers.

That is extremely crooked.

Gaming a system that you feel is rigged is one thing. Yelp isn't the law and Yelp's policy prohibits asking a customer to write a review. I don't fault those who break Yelp's rules especially as no other site has the same rules.

Lying to your customers or prospective customers is a whole different matter.

@Eric - I agree wholeheartedly - it's shocking to me what some small businesses will think is worthy of spending money on. In my experience it's been a (totally inaccurate) assumption that these one time actions can lead to positive and sustainable results. I met a new restaurant owner that spent > $1000 on an ad in the local (print) coupon clipper, but doesn't have a website yet.

With that said, there is one piece of this that continually frustrates me. I could be wrong, but the vibe I got from the ad this person placed is that he's received "legitimate" reviews from people and Yelp is filtering them all. SMBs generally won't understand the IT behind filtering - and when a legitimate customer leaves a review and it gets filtered, many of them feel like they have no choice but to ask for outside assistance. What this person did is totally wrong and I agree it should be called out, but there's a big difference between a legitimate business owner that is just frustrated with missing reviews (and no good explanation why other than "it's the way the filter works") and a business owner who is actively looking to game the system.
 
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Jacob,

I agree with you - wholeheartedly. And I re-read his ad which I misinterpreted - I thought he had Yelp reviews that were filtered. He's saying he has none because he just started the biz. So, it's highly likely this review was entirely made up. A bad way to get started, for sure.

I'll still hold my point though that small business owners don't really understand the nuances that we do. How many websites do you see where there is a "testimonial" page of just amazing (and likely made up) feedback? Of course it's on the SMBs own website and they can do whatever they want on their own site, but it's exactly the same issue. Even worse when it has a person's name (first name, last initial) and city - which looks great, but if it's just HTML code it's not authentic (e.g. left by the user themselves on the site). The fact that Yelp can (and will) catch some folks and call them out is great, but we need to educate SMBs as well so they get why this is so bad. We also need to give them a platform where people can talk honestly (and in both directions) so the content is not skewed too far in either the consumer or businesses favor.
 

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