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SF Restaurant Calls For Yelp Boycott: ‘Stop the Bully’

After seeing the sign at Bai Thong Thai, Times writer Sandy Banks took a critical look at Yelp, specifically the infamous secret algorithm that filters out “fake” reviews. Banks takes issue with the fact that Yelp favors frequent reviewers over first time posters: “The algorithm seems to me aimed less at protecting consumers than rewarding reviewer loyalty.” She also questions whether a restaurant’s ad buys (or lack thereof) influence the algorithm. A spokesperson for Yelp told her, “I don’t know the exact script people use when they sell advertising…But there’s no amount of money anyone can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews.”

Bai Thong Thai is not the only restaurant to claim Yelp nicks ratings for restaurants that don’t buy ads. In January, the FTC responded to a Freedom of Information act request by revealing almost 700 complaints filed against Yelp, many of which accuse the company of lording higher star ratings and more prominent search placement in exchange for buying advertising. As of December, Yelp still wasn’t profitable as a company, so presumably they can use all the ad sales they can get.

· Yelp Wanted [Eater SF]
· All Yelp Coverage on Eater [-E-]


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Mystic Maggie

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  1. bulktexting

    Restaurant software
    SF Restaurant Calls For Yelp Boycott: ‘Stop the Bully’ …..i like to read this blog…There is no course of action for business owners that are against Yelp trashing their companies in this way….thanks…keep posting on…

  2. Brad Reason

    Everyone must continue to boycott Yelp!!

    I have dealt with the extortionist tactics of Yelp first hand. As a marketing director for a small business, Yelp has literally been my only obstacle.

    Yelp has a diabolical practice of burying the legitimate, favorable reviews of small businesses who refuse to submit to their exorbitant advertising program.

    I work for a small business in New York City. We have a devoted, appreciative clientele, many of whom have submitted favorable reviews, only to have them relegated to Yelp purgatory – the "filtered" review section.

    Yelp may claim that they've found a way to detect which reviews are legitimate and which are not via their secretive "algorithm", however, that is not the case. In perusing the filtered reviews for my own small business, I recognize several of my clients in these reviews. These are honest, legitimate reviews. Over the past few years, we've received dozens of positive reviews. Because we refused to advertise with Yelp, these five-star reviews will never see the light of day, yet a mediocre anonymous review from 2008 has always remained on our Yelp page.

    Yelp's overly aggressive sales pitch, and the vindictive consequences if you refuse them, make it clear that it is money, and not accuracy or objectivity, that is their primary concern.

    Specifics: Yelp calls businesses that have not had many reviews filtered. If the business declines the $300+ a month "advertising package" many positive legitimate reviews move the filtered section causing the business to lower in rank (usually from a 4-5 star to a 2-3 star average). Any local competing businesses in the area paying for Yelp's advertising gets to control their reviews and keep themselves at 4-5 stars while businesses not paying Yelp appear to have flaws due to only mediocre reviews being left on the company's Yelp page.

    There is no course of action for business owners that are against Yelp trashing their companies in this way. Yelp promotes "honest reviews from real people" but a federal investigation into Yelp would prove that the company is committing extortion and racketeering.

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