Yelp lets businesses respond to reviews

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KAI RYSSDAL: This being Friday, you could be looking for something relaxing to do this evening. If you're hoping to find a new restaurant or a good spot for happy hour, you might check out one of those online review sites. The ones that let users post their*critiques of everything from restaurants and hardware stores. Yelp is one of them -- a pretty popular one, in fact. About 20 million people a month use its reviews. But the site itself is getting some bad reviews -- from small businesses. Marketplace's Jennifer Collins explains what happens when everybody's a critic.

Jennifer Collins: So I'm looking for a pizza place. I go on Yelp, and voila, Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza. Sounds good. Except, check out the review: "Horrible, horrible, horrible customer service. They wouldn't take my coupon."

There's only one problem:

Jamie Inzunza: We don't have any coupons.

That's Jamie Inzunza -- she owns Mamma's. And it's reviews like -- inaccurate ones -- that really bug her because...

Inzunza: We couldn't reply to that because it has nothing to do with how our food tastes. You know...

She couldn't reply because Yelp wouldn't let her. Right now companies can pay to come up first in a search on the site, or pay to have their good reviews move to the top of the list. But they can't talk back. Starting next week, though, Yelp will let businesses to post responses to reviews. Carl Howe is a consumer researcher at Yankee Group.

Carl Howe: They want to keep their business advertisers. They want to keep them happy. And if they can challenge the factual basis of bad reviews, I think that's a valid response.

But wait a second. If businesses are posting on the site, won't Yelp will lose some credibility with users?

Howe: A lot of people will believe what the business says and some may not. A lot depends on what the reviews are and how entertaining they are in responding.

How's this for entertaining? One San Francisco restaurant printed its bad Yelp reviews on T-shirts and gave them out to its staff.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

Log in to post3 Comments

Why I hate Yelp. Small business owners ATTACK other small business owners to sabotage their business. I know this happens all the time. So called "customers" are idiots when they write a review based not on their experience but their feelings. If you've never purchased anything or talked to anyone in the store, how can you rate it. It's like rating a restaurant w/o eating there, rating a hotel just b/c you walked through the lobby...and boy does Yelper do that A LOT!

I bet there will be less than 1% if any business owners who will respond or comment. All that will do is FUEL the idiot yelpers on a frantic craze to spam the owner.

Oh, I'm a small business owner, and I can attest to the fact that my loyal customers who spend a lot and love your store have never yelped, they don't have the time. The ones who do complain and bitch about our prices and product selection. Ummm....you're NOT my target audience. I don't shop at Walmart so why should I go there or feel the NEED to trash them on Yelp?
Do yelpers have nothing better to do. Oh wait..how about taking a class in constructive criticism that actually has a point or relevance.

Small business owners have a tough time as it is. We're NOT rich, we work 7 days a week, we're lucky if we make $. Why do we do it, for the love and basically working for ourselves and hopefully to bring some of our creative ideas to those who appreciate us.

Stop HATING and if you have something to say, how about take the HIGH road and approach the business and let them know your thoughts and comments. Yelping that a store's merchandise is outrageous or beyond your paycheck, hence i give you 1 star is nonsense.

What YELP should do is allow for other Yelpers like what Judy's Book did, respond to a link/thread.

For a small business, giving money to Jeremy Stoppelman and Yelp is like handing a butcher knife to a serial killer. Yelp needs to verify their reviews. Which is to say that the site needs to actually become trustworthy by being responsible, instead of simply calling themselves trustworthy and expecting people to believe them. They need to be diligent and REMOVE false reviews, either positive or negative, when those reviews are brought to their attention. They need to reinstate credible reviews by actual people, even if those people aren't doing what Yelp wants by spending all their free time on the site, filling it with free content. Short of this, there is no reason for Yelp to exist. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/news/yelp_extortion_allegations_stack_up/C...

There are many "irresponsible reviews" out there. The reviewers that irk me the most are those post a review without going to the business and using their services. Don't they realize the business's livelihood depends on good, quality reviews (online or not)?

This is a good move for Yelp and the Yelp community.

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