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Advice about Bad Reviews on Yelp

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Working & Careers > Advice about Bad Reviews on Yelp


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What should we do about unfair review on Yelp?

Nov 2011

My husband has a small business related to real estate, and he has always had 5-star yelp reviews. Well, the other shoe has dropped. Someone who contracted for his services cancelled at the last minute. As per the agreement, this person was asked to pay the cancellation fee. This guy, his wife, and their agent were all very angry, even though they were alerted to this fee 3 separate times during the appointment process. When someone cancels at the last minute, we are unable to schedule another client, and our family loses money. My husband was bending over backwards on the phone with this guy, trying to let him vent, express himself, and be heard. I heard the whole conversation, and I was amazed at how calm and considerate my husband was. Well, this guy slammed our business on Yelp, and he was dishonest and misleading with his words. AND, this guy never even used my husband's services. Has anyone had experience with untrue negative reviews on Yelp? If so, how do you handle it? Is it better to respond or to ignore?
hates anonymous Yelp slams


Hi, I have a small business as well and though I rely mostly on word of mouth. Yelp has been helping me get business as well. I was very lucky to only have 5 star reviews and I so appreciate them. Last year for the first time I got really negative review. Like really negative 1 out of 5, because this person had an argument with the front desk about scheduling. She was not able to accommodate his schedule. He never made an appointment and made bad reviews about me without even ever meeting me. In the long run, I have asked my patients about that and they said that it makes it look more normal to have a negative review mixed with the good ones. And it seems to not have hurt our business. People read the reviews they don't just look at the stars. So you'll get people that respect your cancellation policy. Also, I recommend you write a comment back on Yelp to that review, a nice polite comment that shows that you care. Good luck. T
No one that I know pays attention to Yelp as it is totally skewed by solicitation of positive reviews. Just continue on with your good business practices and you'll be fine. yelp is fake
I am not a business owner, but as a person who uses yelp a lot to get a feel for a business before I use their services, I would say to ignore it. If you say that you get mostly 4 and 5 stars and have great reviews and there is this one totally negative one, I would think others would read it and assess that some times things go wrong, there is a miscommunication, peoples feelings are hurt, people lie because they feel wronged etc. I would worry if you had a lot of bad reviews. my two cents
The exact same thing just happened to my husband. He's in the medical field, and has always had only good and excellent Yelp reviews. But a guy (we know who it is) just posted a terrible one, and my husband was so upset he consulted a lawyer as to his options. The lawyer said there's really nothing to do. Anyone can post on Yelp, and you have to remember that reasonable people will look at the big picture; the overall score, and understand that readers will take an ''odd'' review with a grain of salt. Sour grapes. Maybe another BPN-er knows more about Yelp rules...there may be a way to hide the offending review. Berkeley Yelper
If this person has never used your husband's services, contact Yelp directly and the review will be removed. I believe the policy is that you can only make negative comments if you have in fact used the service. Yelper
That's incredibly frustrating, and the part of Yelp that one has to understand to use: certain people are just plain mean and you can't trust their reviews. Personally I'd suggest replying in a very calm manner with just the facts and that this is a clearly stated policy, a brief apology that the reviewer was disappointed and that's it. This (to me) makes future customers see you care. Also, most people will see all the great reviews, the one bad and be able to tell that person is an anomaly. Don't fret! Good luck!
Yes, I had a situation whereby I got a negative review on yelp that was unfounded and the person, who I never met, slammed me. I contacted yelp via email and explained the situation and they removed the post immediately. Ironically, while this was all happening, a former student of mine had seen the review, unbeknown to me, and contradicted her statement and backed me up. I know another person that this happened with as well, and the yelp moderators deleted the negative post so I'm sure you will not have a problem. Rita
If all other reviews are stellar, the negative one will be interpreted as stemming from ''sour grapes'' and simply an outlier. That's the way I read reviews; They are written by humans, we are all fallible. Focus on the next client. CP
I'm so sorry your business is dealing with this. Unregulated ''review'' sites like yelp (which I admittedly post on occasionally) can be terrible when abused.

I see a couple of options. You can again contact the disgruntled party and confront him rationally about how he's slammed you on the site. Or you can write a business response via yelp that will be shown at the bottom of his review. The ones that I've viewed as the most effective are ones where the business has first apologized (again) for how unhappy the client is, with a follow up explaining their cancellation policy (etc., whatever it is that made the person mad in the first place) and why the outcome was the way it was (ie - when they cancelled at the last minute, they were in breach of the contract, etc. etc.).

Or you can choose to ignore the whole thing if you have a ton of great reviews. Usually when I browse yelp and find a business with 50 great reviews and only a couple of bad ones, I generally assume it says more about the reviewer than the business. Anyway - that's my take. Good luck! lover/hater of yelp reviews


My husband and I ran a competitive business for six years. Because of the mixed nature of our business we had many good reviews, some moderate and few downright angry ones. Yelp has changed some of its options since then, and you as a business owner, can and should respond to reviews, either by posting under theirs as a response, or in a private message. Our business wasn't hurt by the negative reviews, but I have spoken with many, many biz owners who know that these reviews do affect them. So, I would respond to negative reviews as in ''I'm sorry you feel that way about our business, but it seems you didn't actually use our services. Please give us the benefit of trying our services, I think you may be pleasantly surprised.'' or something like that. ALSO write thank yous to those who write to positive or neutral reviews; I'm a Yelp reviewer, and I can tell you that I have reworded my reviews to be more positive when it seemed warranted after a business owner emailed me.

One more thing I'd like to add for general purposes: I was interrogated about our biz's neg reviews when I applied to another job after we had to close (due to the economy). It was horribly insulting that Yelp is taken so seriously that it actually cost me a job -- not b/c I personally had been negatively reviewed (in fact, I was positively reviewed), but because the business had a few. I think answering those negs can be a way to counter-act these kinds of problems in future.

Yelp isn't ''fake''. These neophyte reviews can cause a lot of damage, in a variety of ways. Anony


I am actually in business school now, and I took a class on services marketing in which we looked at this very issue. The professor was very much in favor of responding. A ''narrative apology'' -- i.e. you apologize and then explain your side of the story, in very respectful terms-- is a good route. I don't know about Yelp, but on Trip Advisor, there is no response to the response, so the business owner gets the last word. It is a new world with customers being able to air their gripes online-- it is best to engage with it, respectfully. Companies that deal with it a lot (like hotels) actually have software that pulls together reviews from all over the internet, like a dashboard-- and they can write responses within the dashboard.

Another important thing-- the next time your husband has a happy customer, encourage them to post a positive review. I stayed at a hotel recently that sent me a survey after my stay, and when I rated them highly, the last screen of the survey said, ''We're glad to hear we have your love, now spread the word!'' with a link to TripAdvisor. You could do something like that. Good luck, Andrea


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