Some shops have told me Yelp is unfair, unless they’re willing to buy an advertising plan for $300-$500 or more.
Shop owners aren’t fond of it, but they realize Yelp isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Some try to ignore Yelp altogether while others seemingly live and die with each review, so it’s always a hot topic amongst small business owners.
Years ago, I heard a representative from Yelp who was invited to speak at a California Autobody Association (CAA) meeting in San Jose, CA. After his brief presentation, there was a question-and-answer session and at one point I thought - I hope they don’t lynch this poor guy! Many of the shop owners in attendance vented their many grievances about Yelp, including the authenticity of reviews and preferential treatment for shops that buy advertising.
The controversy surrounding Yelp was re-ignited with the recent release of Billion Dollar Bully, a new documentary about Yelp that you can watch on Amazon and iTunes. It claims that Yelp extorts small business owners for advertising fees in return for promoting positive reviews and hiding negative ones.
The film opens with Davide Cerretini, owner of Botto Italian Pizza Bistro in Richmond, CA, who claims that Yelp’s salespeople called him 20 times a week pressuring him to advertise on the platform. They finally wore him down and he signed up for a six-month contract, which he didn’t renew. Once he stopped paying for advertising, Cerretini claims his positive Yelp reviews vanished, only to be replaced with new and mysterious negative reviews. “To me, this is the mafia,” Cerretini says in the film.
A few years ago, Nielsen conducted a study and the numbers were pro-Yelp.
- 88 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 85 percent of consumers read online reviews.
- Yelp gets 142 million monthly visitors and 77 million local reviews in industries ranging from auto repair to food and entertainment.
- 98 percent of Yelp users report making a purchase at a business they found on Yelp, with 85 percent doing so within seven days and 27 percent doing so within one day.Previous Page Next Page »