Yelp Inc. may have started operations in 2004 with a view to help users and businesses find each other with the help of recommendations and reviews. However, its policies have drawn flak from businesses all around the USA and Yelp has been busy holding town hall meetings in several states in a bid to placate local businesses.
One such meeting in Los Angeles was attended by several LA business owners that wanted the site to know that they were not happy with the way the company handled reviews and advertising. Yelp has been often accused of manipulating ratings and reviews in a way that favors businesses advertising on its website.
Several LA businesses complained to Yelp during the town hall meeting about allowing reviewers to post inflammatory comments. Most businesses were miffed since some comments and reviews were posted by people that had never used their services or visited their establishments. One restaurant owner complained that several negative reviews about his business were posted by Yelp users that had not even tasted his restaurant food.
Many business owners have been long accusing Yelp of rigging the review filter of the site Yelp.com. Businesses felt that those who did not advertise their business on Yelp had positive reviews about their business filtered.
Such complaints have been directed at Yelp since many years. However, Morgan Remmers, Manager-Local Business Outreach at Yelp reiterated that the filter used at Yelp was an automatic one that utilized many objective data points, which were not related to advertising. On the other hand, she admitted that authentic reviews did get filtered with respect to various businesses, but did not provide a reason for the same.
Yelp has advised businesses to flag reviews that they felt had issues or to contact the company when they faced problems with the reviews filter in case they were unable to attend a town hall meeting.