I'm not a fan of Yelp. Here's why.
I work at a family-owned winery (I am part of the family) that has a tasting room on the premises. Our weekends are busy - we often have the tasting bar packed with people, many of whom are loyal repeat customers. We're also on Yelp, apparently; this was brought to my attention by a customer asking about some negative reviews we had apparently accrued. I went to Yelp to read them and immediately knew the customers in question.
The incident was, as I would guess many of them are, involving a fairly large group of guests who were doing one of those limo tours of the wine country. We weren't their first stop, and some of them were to put it quite bluntly, hammered. Not vomiting-in-the-plants drunk, but taking missteps, slurring words, speaking very loudly, spilling their half-ounce tastes of wine drunk. Some of our other guests were very uncomfortable with their presence, and we did something we'd never done - and haven't had to do since - we asked them to leave. Well, a few of the females in the contingent didn't really agree with our point of view and loudly said so. It took a few minutes (with no shortage of cursing on their part) to get them back on the road in their limousine.
I pride myself on my customer service skills. I've spent quite a bit of time in various businesses, largely dealing with guests of some sort, and I think I'm pretty good at handling people when they're upset about something - calming them down, bringing things to a peaceful resolution, offering olive branches, that sort of thing. The posts that two of these people made about our winery were egregiously slanted, making one of our staff sound like a really terrible person, insulting our employees personally based on their appearance. This was not just one, but two separate posts by two people from the same limo group on the same day. It wasn't, in my mind, fair that our otherwise very good rating on Yelp was marred by "reviews" like these.
I contacted Yelp about the posts, wondering if there was anything we could do to, yes, have them removed. I'm not one for censorship - the first amendment is one of my favorites - but I thought that maybe they'd remove one of them, or give us a chance at a rebuttal. Instead they tried to sell me some sort of membership for not a small amount of money while refusing to even consider removing either of the negative reviews. I declined to give them my money.
Most of the reviews we've gotten since then have been overwhelmingly positive. I can only hope that people who look at our Yelp page look past those two one-star reviews and keep an eye on the big picture, but every time a customer mentions having seen us on Yelp I have to bite my tongue.
Long story short, Yelp may be good for some things, but I think they're more interested in shaking down businesses than working with them.
Thanks for letting me vent.