Time for an update on Yelp.
No, we’re not obsessed with the online review site, but because we recognize its influence with consumers who are seeking information on anything from a good taco to a reasonably priced landscaping service, we feel that it’s worth keeping homeowners up to date on events surrounding the company.
Of course, we have written about Yelp before. We explained how the site works and why we felt that reviews of businesses in general (and ours in particular) were not necessarily being fairly presented.
On another occasion, we explained to consumers how to make the best use of Yelp as a resource to find a basement waterproofing contractor or any other home improvement contractor.
We continue to feel that Yelp’s process of highlighting some reviews and de-emphasizing others is at best confusing and at worst unfair and have found support for that point of view in recent developments that have been widely reported.
Here’s what’s been going on with the ubiquitous review site:
Wall Street Journal files Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Yelp with Federal Trade Commission – The nation’s leading business newspaper filed a FOIA request earlier this year with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for information about complaints lodged against Yelp.
The information provided to the Journal included 2,046 complaints filed against Yelp by business owners between 2008 and March of this year. Most of the complaints alleged that the businesses received unfairly negative or fraudulent reviews, often after having declined to advertise on Yelp.
Shares in Yelp dropped in price by nearly 6% after the information was posted on the FTC website.
Yelp Shareholders File Class-Action Suit Against Company – In early August 2014, a group of Yelp shareholders filed a class action suit against the company in Federal court in San Francisco. The lawsuit alleges that Yelp deceived shareholders about the quality of the reviews presented on its site and about business practices regarding suppressing negative reviews.
The suit also claims that Yelp executives sold company stock at a profit just before the FTC made information about complaints public and the price of shares dropped.
Virginia carpet cleaning company sues anonymous Yelp reviewers – In a case that is being closely watched by businesses around the U.S., a Virginia carpet cleaning company has brought a lawsuit against seven anonymous reviewers who the company believes posted fraudulent reviews and subpoenaed Yelp to identify them.
Yelp refused and has been held in contempt by a Virginia state court, a ruling that has been affirmed by a state appeals court. The appeal is now pending with the Virginia Supreme Court.
Draw from these news stories whatever conclusion makes sense to you but please be aware that there is a disagreement among reasonable individuals about the value and veracity of Yelp reviews. To be fair, Yelp denies any charges of favoritism and says that reviews that are highlighted on its site are determined by an algorithm that prevents false or extreme reviews.
As we have done before, we suggest you take a look at U.S. Waterproofing’s page on Yelp. To be honest, the 15 “recommended reviews” are a mixture of great and abysmal, with some of the poor ones about things beyond our control. However, if you take a second to click on the “not recommended” reviews link, you’ll find 49 more reviews – 45 of which are either 4 or 5 stars, the top rating.
Again, please draw your own conclusion.
At U.S. Waterproofing, we proudly stand by our reputation as the premiere basement waterproofing company in the Chicago area and one of the oldest and largest in the United States. We got there by treating our customers honestly and fairly, doing good work at a fair price and honoring our warranties. We have served more than 300,000 satisfied customers since 1957 and we’re eager to offer you our free advice as well.
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