Posts Tagged ‘Yelp fraud’

Yelp Throws Down: Starts Up a Shame Campaign Against Businesses That Pay For Positive Reviews

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

So basically Yelp is now announcing a new shame campaign against businesses what break the rules to get an inflated Yelp rating.

(I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen footnotes in a press release before, but that’s how area Yelp flack Stephanie Ichinose rolls, I guess)

Check it:

“Yelp Rolls Out Consumer Alerts to Educate and Inform Consumers

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 18, 2012  – Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), the company that connects people with great local businesses, announced today that it will be taking additional steps to protect consumers from biased reviews. The company will place a consumer alert message on a business’s profile page when it determines that there have been significant efforts to purchase fake reviews to mislead consumers.

“Yelp has become so influential in the consumer decision making process that some businesses will go to extreme lengths to bolster their reviews,” said Eric Singley, vice president of consumer products and mobile, Yelp. “While our filter already does a great job of highlighting the most useful content, we think consumers have a right to know when someone is going to great lengths to mislead them.”

The consumer alert will call attention to attempts to purchase reviews for a business profiled on Yelp. When consumers click on the alert, we will show them screenshots exposing the effort to mislead our users.

The alert will be removed from the business’s Yelp page after 90 days, unless evidence of ongoing efforts is discovered, which may renew the warning period. Initially, nine businesses will have the consumer alert message posted on their profile page, but the company will be posting alerts like these on an ongoing basis as warranted.

Beyond alerting consumers to attempts to purchase reviews, the next step in Yelp’s Consumer Alert program will be to let consumers know if a business has had a large number of reviews submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, which can be a helpful indicator that they lack authenticity. While the review filter already takes this type of information into account, we believe that consumers also have a right to know if this activity is going on.

Consumer trust is essential to the utility of a user-generated review service. Since early 2005, Yelp has taken an aggressive stance to protect the quality of the content on its site, namely in the form of its review filter which aims to highlight reviews that are helpful and reliable. This automated program is applied continually and equally to all reviews submitted to Yelp. Reviews that have been flagged by the filter can be viewed by users if desired. Yelp has become a trusted source for more than 78 million monthly visitors in large part because of this focused quality-over-quantity approach.

An independent Businessweek(i) report confirmed the success of Yelp’s efforts to protect consumers. The article details the efforts of a Texan business owner who purchased 200 online reviews in an attempt to artificially bolster his business’s online reputation. The report found that Yelp’s review filter returned “impressive results” catching every purchased review, while the shill reviews remained up on seven other review sites.

Academic studies from Harvard Business School(ii )and UC Berkeley(iii), have demonstrated the impact a business’s Yelp reviews can have on its success. These findings indicate a strong incentive for some businesses to try to game the system, and explain why Yelp must continue to innovate in the steps it takes to protect consumers.

Yelp exists to help consumers find and support local businesses. In its ongoing efforts to help local business owners make the most of their presence on Yelp, the company has built a robust online resource (biz.yelp.com) and offers regular workshops for business owners, both via webinars and locally in more than a dozen cities across the US.

About Yelp

Yelp Inc. connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken root in major metros across the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Sweden Denmark, Norway, Finland, Singapore and Poland. Yelp had a monthly average of approximately 78 million unique visitors in Q2 2012(iv). By the end of the same quarter, Yelpers had written more than 30 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. Yelp’s mobile applications were used on approximately 7.2 million unique mobile devices on a monthly average basis during Q2 2012. For more information please email press@yelp.com.

(i) Source: BusinessWeek “A Lie Detector Test for Online Reviewers”, Karen Weise (September 29, 2011)

(ii) Source: Harvard Business School, Michael Luca (October 2011)

(iii) Source: The Economic Journal, Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder (March 2012)

(iv) Source: Google Analytics”

I’ll tell you, shame works. Just look what my local bodega did to me after I passed a whole bunch of bad checks, you know, to get delicious Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and the occasional Cheetos Natural Puffs White Cheddar. They posted them for tout le monde to see:

Via Big Rye

All the shame is making me consider not defrauding area business, you know, someday.

Anyway, Yelp is disciplining a total of nine bidnesses in all of Yelp-land, for sdtarters anyway.

Is that enough to stop Yelp Fraud?

Yelp Fraud: New Stow Lake Boathouse a Huge Success in Golden Gate Park, But Old Regime Just Can’t Let Go

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

[UPDATE: Bagdad by the Bay just looked into things.]

Well, everything’s going great at your new and improved yet-pretty-much-the-same-except-for-the-food Stow Lake Boathouse in Golden Gate Park.

Here’s what it looks like these days:

Click to expand

Just check the Yelp for early reviews. They’re almost all highly positive.*

But what’s this? Some “brother” from Oakland, “Les. L,” is not happy, not one bit! He’s the only Yelper giving a less than positive review.

I’ll allege that Les is not some youngish dude from Oakland, but rather a wealthy, white, preservationist-minded, NIMBY-mentalitied, real-estate-obsessed, highly-opinionated woman of a certain age who lives in the West Bay.

Let’s check it out her one-star report:

“What happened to the cool local people that worked there?”

Um, this is an improbable start to a Yelp review. Gee, maybe they busy themselves with sock puppetry on Yelp these days, just like you, “Les L?”

“Everyone we saw was white, which is weird for SF. We drove over from the East Bay to rent boats with my 2 kids and my mom.”

Oh what’s that, Les? There’s not enough flava for you over here in the West Bay? That’s funny? Did you know that all the people behind the old boat house and the Save the Boat House Coalition are white, or pretty much? What were you expecting?

“The kids couldn’t reach the pedals in the boat we rented. How’s that? It’s for kids, right?”

The old boats, the ones sold off for $500, maybe they were inappropriate for adults? Maybe the kids can just come along for the ride? A paddleboat is a paddleboat, pretty much.

“After a unhappy boatride, my mom tripped on the crappy stairs in front of the boathouse. She was bleeding, the kids were crying, and no one bothered to help us.”

What were you unhappy about, Les? That Bruce lost his lease? It happens. Or you were unhappy because there were too many Whities about?

“An old man sitting on a bench helped us and said the boathouse was just taken over by a New Mexico chain. We won’t be back.”

More improbability. Oh well.

Oddly, Les L., straight outta Oak-Town, also has a big beef with Chicago Title Co. in lily-white Campbell, CA, the wealthiest(?) part of the South Bay.

And, oddly, “his” dentist, with whom “he” also has a big beef, is clear all the way in the burbs of the West Bay.

On It Goes…

*Perhaps too positive. “Ashley c.” is a another one of those Yelp fraudsters, it would appear.

Crappy “Bauer’s ‘Intelligent’ Transportation” Update: “Upgrades” Wedding Limo to Corporate Van – Gets Sued by S.F. Bride

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Let’s just say that long-time Yelper Rosie S is not a fan of Bauer’s Limousine / Bauer’s Transportation / Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation. Why? Well, ’cause they sent a tacky van instead of a proper limo to her wedding a few months back. Check the excerpts:

The 10 passenger limo I ordered did NOT arrive. Instead, they sent us a VAN! The morning of my wedding. Not what I ordered.

I contacted the company when I returned from my honeymoon–note: they NEVER contacted me to explain the situation nor to apologize–and they said:

“I have checked with our operations department as to what happened this day and it appears there had been a mechanical issue with a regular stretch limo so they made the last minute decision to upgrade the vehicle to a limousine van.  This was our next best option at the moment.  I sincerely apologize that a regular stretch did not appear, but this was viewed as a free upgrade to the original vehicle reserved.”

Horrendous company, terrible service, awful fleet of cars if they have seemingly frequent “mechanical issues.”  Do yourself a favor and STAY AWAY FROM BAUER’S unless you want to get ripped off and disappointed!  Especially on your wedding day….

Can you believe that? Now, if I were running a crappy limo / transportation / “intelligent” transportation company, I’d feel bad about my fail whale exploding all over a wedding and I’d apologize and then I’d give a full refund, but that’s just me.

Now, speaking of crappy, how about them Bauer limousine van / bus / whatever drivers on the 101?

Speeding? Sure, we’ve got to get you to the church (or wherever) on time! But signaling? Not so much. You see, there’s no money in signaling:

Click to expand

Rosie says that the Bauer people didn’t respond to her until after she filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court, Small Claims Division. Oh well.

Now, judges might be sympathetic to plaintiffs in a situation like this, but you never know how they’d rule. Sometimes what’s in the contract is what matters and sometimes not so much. Oh well.

But I believe the gist of Rosie’s story – I don’t think that she’s committing Yelp fraud, I don’t think that she owns a rival cheesy “intelligent” transportation company or that she’s sponsored by one.

Speaking of which, there’s somebody on Yelp saying how great Bauer’s is but he neglected to add in or update the little tidbit that Bauer’s is a “sponsor” of his. Oh well. I’ll give you one guess how many Yelp stars he gives to Bauer’s IT.

Did you guess cinco?

You’re right, mi amiga/o. (And actually, it appears that purported “Luminary” and “City Bright” writer at the San Francsico Chronicle’s SFGate.com Zenophon / Zennie62 is incapable of ever giving anything less than five stars on Yelp. How sporting!)

Anyway, good luck Rosie!