Gotta give credit where credit is due.
I trashed Yelp pretty hard a few weeks ago. While I don’t like many of their business practices, in that article I did mention the unenviable task Yelp has of sorting out the good reviews from the bad.
One of the factors making this so difficult is that some business owners, knowing how important a good review can be for their business, will have fake positive reviews added to local review sites like Yelp.
While review sites (especially Yelp) don’t like business owners to pay for reviews, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a business to offer incentives to customers to leave online reviews. These review sites have become so powerful for generating business you can’t fault a business owner for wanting to do all they can to promote their business.
What isn’t okay, however, is paying people who have never set foot in your store to leave good reviews for your business online. That’s just downright unethical.
So in an effort to crack down on business owners who are paying for reviews, Yelp has reportedly been conducting sting operations. And, if they catch you, it looks like they are now taking to public shame to penalize businesses doing this and to make an example out of them.
A recent New York Times article reports that Yelp has started adding “consumer alerts” on the Yelp pages of companies that have been caught trying to pay for reviews. The alert says “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.”
Not only that, but Yelp is making the evidence available and letting potential customers for the business see the “incriminating emails trying to hire a reviewer.”
While I still don’t like many of Yelp’s business practices, I applaud the concept behind this one. If businesses are trying to purchase reviews from strangers they should be penalized.
Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.