First, I would like to say that I believe that this type of use of third party reviews and social media is a very useful tool. I use Yelp! and other sites like this to make decisions on services and products monthly. In the early 90’s Alan Greenspan spoke to a graduating class at Harvard and said something like this: The economy is changing, we’re moving from a manufacturing economy to a service oriented one. A customer of the past could hold a product in his/her hand and say “I’ve had this hammer/blender for years and it’s great”. In a serviced based economy, a customer will not have that physical product in hand to hold. Because of this change, your reputation will be very important in the future. I remembered this and still have the article that I cut out of the Boston Globe.
OK, Yelp!, a few years ago as I started to understand social media and sites like Yelp! I held the site in very high regard and found it very helpful. Because of the person that I am, I wanted everyone to know about the site and at the same time, help my business grow, I would tell customers/clients about the site and ask them to post a review of me and Newton Centre Associates.
Yelp! contacted me to advertise on the site. At that time I had six reviews posted, none below four stars. the sales rep said that they were offering companies with hi ratings advertising spots on the site. Even though the monthly fee was above my budget at the time, we negotiated a fee and terms that worked for both of us. I saw a good response from the ads. But then something strange happened. I began to see my reviews disappear. The number of reviews went from six to five, then four, then three. And ended up with one review.
I contacted Yelp! and asked what had happened? I was told that it’s the computer program that they use to “weed” out bogus reviews. OK, I get that, but it continued to the point where I just had one review. Because these reviews were pulled at different times, it didn’t make sense to me. Honestly, it still doesn’t. I’m not a techie, but wouldn’t it make sense to do a critique of a company’s reviews at the same time? I was pissed. My star rating was still four to five, but it’s just a matter of time before someone posts a bad review. No one can please everyone, all the time. I also understood that the more reviews you have, the better it is for you. I contacted Yelp! and talked to them about this-“Sorry-nothing we can do”. That’s when I ended the contract with them. I cannot prove (and don’t have time or money to go after them) that I have been black listed but my company’s category was changed from “Apartments & Real Estate” to “property management”, and while that is a part of my business, apartment rentals & Real Estate sales are a larger part of the company. At this point, I am unable to change that field in editable part of my page. While the other fields on my page are editable by me. I have emailed and called them with no response.
Through my membership and involvement with the Newton/Needham Chamber of Commerce, I have learned that a number of other companies have had issues with Yelp!.
I still use Yelp!, but I always check out the “filtered” reviews before I make a decision on a product or service because I’m not sure if Yelp! treated them the same way they treated me.
If you search the filtered reviews of Newton Centre Associates, you’ll not find a bad review, nothing under four stars. I know the reviewers, where they rented or purchased homes and would offer to connect anyone who questioned the review.
In closing, I think one has to take the average of ALL the reviews to come to an accurate picture of the reputation of someone or a company.