Normally, as a business professional I never resort to doing any bashing or down talking any other business or advertising portals, no matter how unhappy or dissatisfied I may be with the services; but one thing I can’t stand is when these businesses implement malpractices or bullying small business like me to a point where I start feel cheated and helpless! This is something I won’t ever stand and it’s time I speak!!!
Yelp has gradually dropped recommended reviews of my business from 70+ to 27 in 4 months. Those 70+ 5-star reviews had been there for months but suddenly became "Not Recommended" when I declined an advertising offer by a very unprofessional yet persistent account manager (Brian Kuan), and his manager, who were both quite vocal about their disappointment. Not only that, they continued to drop my reviews until my 5 star rating was down to a 4.5, by blocking of 15-20 reviews at random points, funny! their algorithm all of a sudden got a ‘wake up call’. Upon inquiring, the answers I get is a blanket stock- standard statement about a system algorithm and software updates. Sure! How did those reviews stay at 5 star for such a long time then? How did none of my fellow make up and hair artists had any of that? If 60% of my reviews which, mind you, are genuine, can be deemed not recommended in 4 months, surely my fellow artists had 50% that were deemed not recommended in the same time frame? Or how about 40%? 30%? How about 10 reviews on a similar dataset?
It is unfortunate that a company of Yelp's reputation would resort to such practices and unfairly treat businesses, while showing no accountability, just because I did not want to advertise.
Snippet from the conversation exchange that happened between me and Brian and then his manager:
After several follow up calls, I finally agreed to set up a time to with Brian so he could walk me through Yelp's changed policies and marketing campaign. He calls me, walks me through it and at the end asks me to hit'Purchase button' but claiming that I am actually not paying anything. Upon questioning, I said it's sounding weird to me that I will hit 'Purchase button' but wont still be charged. He went in a round about fashion, not giving clear answer but just somehow trying his best that I hit that button. I said I won't do it because then Yelp will actually start charging my Credit Card, to that he finally got a little irritated and said ' Well, is that not what you want? Do you not want customers to come on your page and give you business? So if that's what you want then obviously Yelp will charge you for it but is that not a good thing?' I replied 'Well thats not the point, I am upset that you almost mislead me into hitting the button claiming I wont be charged anything. I would have appreciated had you told me the truth and not go in circles about this entire thing. He got to his wits end and said 'I dont understand, why wouldn't you market with us, I have been calling you since so many days. I feel like my time has been wasted and you've been pushing me around for no real purpose'. I decided to hang up!
Then after a few weeks later, I get a call from his manager (do not remember his name), another fellow with no courtesy and professionalism in his tone. He straight away gets into finding out that why is it that i won't advertise with Yelp. Well! I tell him two things:
"1. I don't need yelp to advertise as my business is primarily through word of mouth and since i am not a storefront I do not see any benefit. I tried advertising with Yelp in the past and it did not benefit me so I wont do it this time.
2. I dont need Yelp because customers who are looking up for me are finding me through Google search and use Yelp as a secondary platform to validate my company credentials and read about reviews. I have 70+ 5 star rating so there is nothing really Yelp can do for me. I have those reviews talk for me!"
Ofcourse! He took note of both of these points and little did i know the BULLYING WILL BEGIN IN THE COMING WEEKS! As you can see the reviews started to drop, drop in blocks until the rating got affected! I guess, all of this is evidence enough to show how ruthless can Yelp get when it doesn't get businesses like me to agree to their cheap tactics!
Inserting screenshots as evidence - please note the months at which these changes took place:
When I posted about this on my instagram, facebook and other social media platforms, I received so many of my fellow business professionals share similar experiences and posting about it. Inserting screenshots of their grievances below: