About, Reviews

There’s an App for That – The UGLY Truth About Yelp

I’m a modern girl. I live in the age of technology – In the “there’s an app for that” age.

In trying to navigate through my own community, Jersey City, and my “work world”, Manhattan’s Wes Village, I can’t help but rely on my handy dandy Yelp app. For those of you who have been living under a rock and don’t know what Yelp is a website that helps other (like me), find great places based on the reviews of others. In turn, going to or ordering from the reviewed and (sometimes) recommended establishments will prompt you to write a review of your own. And from there, it goes on and on.

I’ve gotta give it to them – I’ve found some seriously great places—from food establishments to places that offer other services such as hair and nail salons, extra-curricular classes, pet services (of course), etc. I’ve relied on Yelp to keep me in the know, especially about local eateries. My fellow Yelpers barely fail to steer me to my next delicious dinner.

Recently, though, I’ve noticed a trend; and I guess new businesses need positive feedback to help attract customers. They ask their friends and families to leave them ravishing reviews. How nice, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, when they do this, the review isn’t honest and unbiased. That really irks my nerves. For example, last night, I was looking for a place to grab dinner – I read a review about a new local eatery that had 4/5 stars. As I prepared to place my order on Grubhub, I notice that the people who have left reviews:

A) Don’t have complete profiles
B) Have only left one review, which was for this one place

C) Have no friends

See, that’s misleading. And this wasn’t the first time I’ve come across this kind of issue before. I’ve actually relied on an establishment’s reviews without looking deeper into the reviewers and ended up with a crap lunch/dinner. It also deters me from going to an establishment, because it just seems dishonest.

Here’s another really good example – I found a new “business” on Yelp. The photos and food described on their Yelp page seemed amazingly delicious. I look the place up on Google Maps and come to find out, it’s a business run from someone’s house. Yes, I used street view. Also, it seemed that all the reviews weren’t from the area. I mean, these people were leaving reviews from across the country (again, probably friends and relatives); and again, they have incomplete profiles made only to leave this one review for this specific business. I scrapped that idea.

That said, I wish establishments and their friends/families would be more considerate of this. It is really inconvenient for the unseasoned Yelper. Better yet, I wish Yelp had a system for pointing these things out. Yes, they have the “Yelp Elite” title for seasoned Yelpers like me, but come on. It would make life easier and less deceiving. Ha. Anyway, I seem to mostly find this problem with new or mom and pop shops in my area as my “work world” is too big of a mecca to find issues like these—meaning that most of the places I’d come across are more frequently frequented, more foot traffic.

I love Yelp, and I always recommend it to my friends and coworkers. It’s a really useful tool, not only in navigating and finding great places in your own area, but also when you’re travelling to new areas. I just hope that local businesses keep it one-hundred and stop asking their family and friends to create profiles for the sake of leaving them good reviews and possibly misleading others!

All that said, go visit my Yelp Profile and (maybe!) friend me – I’ve been to great (and some terrible, as you’ll find) places!


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