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Why Yelp is bad for business and ultimately bad for customers…

Is Yelp bad?

Those of you that know me know that I do not often stray too far into the negative.  Life is a wonderful journey with precious little time...why spend that time with angst and anger?  That said, Yelp pisses me off and it should piss you off as well.

When I decided to create a business, I believed that the only way to do so was to create one that I could be proud of.  To me, that meant ensuring that a set of values was put in place that were indelible.  Values that would take our small company to a national or international brand and have staying power.  “Doing the right thing...always” is a motto that we live by, fanatically, all the time.  We treat our customers, employees, friends, etc with a great deal of respect.  We endeavor to bring the best possible repair to our customers at a reasonable price and do so with exceptional convenience.  From time to time we make mistakes and we own them.

What does this have to do with Yelp?  Yelp penalizes businesses that consistently receive high marks and does so under the guise of a “filter”.  Yelp might have you believe that their filter is there to protect consumers as well as prevent businesses from “gaming” the system.  In fairness to Yelp, they may even believe that that is true.  Unfortunately, in their quest to create a legitimate review they are harming the very businesses that put quality, passion, integrity, etc before profits.  When a business like Yelp decides to create a filter, they are immediately placing a bias on the end result.  Through their limited perspective and more importantly their opinion they are selecting what they believe is good for all of us.  Frankly, they take us as idiots and expect we need to be told what is and is not good for us.  They believe that a glowing “five star” review is an anomaly and should be suspect if a business receives many of them...especially if said reviews are from people that have never been a part of Yelp.  Yelp also questions your bank of positive reviews if they are not accompanied with a smattering of less-than-positive reviews.  What I say is...that is nonsense.  Yelp is promoting the mediocre.  Yelp is saying that it is far more important to be middle-of-the-road-ish over being great.  Yelp is saying to the person that we just gave exceptional service to, and compelled to join Yelp, that their opinion is not worth anything.

I give you the example of Shatter Buggy...

http://www.yelp.com/filtered_reviews/8Y-coBtKPE6W4TUfLVujiA?fsid=Mh50147NOLPiXD8CnLAFeA

We at Shatter Buggy work tirelessly to ensure that each and every customer is taken care of to the best of our abilities each and every day.  As I said before, when we make mistakes, and we do, we own them and make them right...always.  We know that each of you have entrusted your devices to us and that they are not  simple electronics but rather an integral part of your lives.  We do not squander this trust and also work hard to respect your time.  We believe this is the only way to do business.  “Doing the right thing...always.” is more than a corporate slogan, it is in our DNA.

We at Shatter Buggy also follow the guidelines of Yelp when it comes to reviews.  We do not “cherry pick” the folks that we believe will give us positive reviews.  Rather, we invite all customers to give us feedback through many social channels.  Good, bad, or indifferent, we really do want to know.  Want to know what we found?  People appreciate our honesty.  People appreciate our courtesy.  People appreciate our human-ness.  People appreciate that we put them before us.  The only group to not appreciate us is Yelp.

I believe that we can all agree that it is far easier for a business to get negative reviews rather than positive.  I am far more likely to review a business after a bad experience as opposed to a positive one (albeit that is changing).  With that in mind, and considering the high volume of customers we take care of here at Shatter Buggy, we have never received a legitimate negative review.  Further, as of this writing, we have received 67 five star reviews and only one four star review within our Colorado operations.  This is something that I am extremely proud of but unfortunately you will never see the vast majority of these reviews due to the Yelp filter.  At any one time, Yelp filters all but three or four of our reviews.  This is a subjective bias and it is not the truth.  We have 68 glowing reviews and ZERO negative and Yelp spanks us for it.  Wrong wrong wrong!

I have expressed to Yelp, on more than one occasion, that we would be more than willing to work with them to provide them data that proves the legitimacy of our reviews.  We have suggested a system that ensures that both the reviewer as well as the business is telling the truth.  Why?  Because we are not afraid of the truth.  Even if we had negative reviews we would embrace them as that is the necessary catalyst for improvement.

America is at a crossroads...we can choose to accept less than greatness from businesses, ourselves, etc or we can work hard, innovate and make this place better for everyone.  I choose the latter for me and my little business.

B.