You will find the following “Consumer Alert” on yelp:
We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business. We weren’t fooled, but wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules. Check out the evidence here. ( http://s3-media3.ak.yelpcdn.com/saphoto/RU7bd3h2f6pBlf8BfAyxGQ/o.jpg )
Clicking the link provided will take you to an image caption of the correspondence between the yelp sting operative and the company. This jeweler was offering $200 for a review, per the craigslist post they had created. And apparently they are not the only ones using this technique… per google search for “Craigslist.org Yelp review”:
Does this Yelp Penalty Affect Ranking?
Levi Jewelers still ranks #1 in the yelp search “Jeweler” from a desktop, as of today. It still shows the 5 stars and 91 reviews. ( Interesting to note that they do have 366 filtered reviews. )
When you travel to their page the consumer alert is below the fold:
The mobile version does not currently show the consumer alert whatsoever. And the yelp deal with Levi, one that pays yelp, is still active.
What is the verdict?
Honestly, I think yelp could show some more teeth here. But for the sake of making a public example of this company, I believe they are opting to keep them up. This is also a recent update and I am sure that the future versions of Yelp penalties will be modified. The email correspondence occurred beginning Oct. 11th through Oct. 13th. It appears that it was leaked to the press very quickly and thus the public relations team is getting their message out.
However, from a previous yelp broken filter blunder in which Yelp quickly reacted to remove the reviews, I feel yelp still fails to make a solid stance. Their previous blunder only called for a quick cover up, it did not remove the members who violated the guidelines. Will yelp protect the other members that the Jeweler paid off to get good reviews? Will there be a point when businesses get an advocate to combat yelpers gone wild?
Pest Control Guy Penalized on Yelp for Reviews
Rumor has it that there is a pest control guy that was caught red handed buying reviews on yelp as well. I have not been able to find this bugger. I am shocked however that a Phoenix pest control competitor of mine openly offers a credit for a yelp review on his website. It seems that this should certainly be a red flag for yelp.
“Love Us? YELP! Post a positive comment on YELP and receive $5.00 off any service. Let us know through our Contact Us page”
Apparently a yelp review is only worth $5 for pest control companies. That is a bit shy of the $200 the jeweler is offering and the $100 a restaurant in Sedona is offering.