I’ve been a longtime Yelper, since its inception actually and was happy to be part of a system that grew quickly and demonstrated a new way of thinking for people and businesses. Even taking into account the “masses are asses” and fake reviews, you could always get a sense for a place based on majority. I’d often read a few posts before making a dining choice and then happily post mine once all was said and done. A pleasant little arrangement I thought.

Then I started noticing things. I didn’t really give it a great deal of concern but I discovered that several of my reviews weren’t showing up. At first I thought it might have been at the request of the establishment I had reviewed but some were negative and some were positive so that didn’t make sense. I had also by this stage, been running a couple of paid client yelp accounts (against my wishes mind you) and I asked to remove some negative reviews which they didn’t do so I figured that wasn’t the case. (FWIW I didn’t really want them to remove them, I was merely probing). So it turns out to be Yelp’s review filter that is responsible for the disappearing reviews. OK well I’m sure they’ll be working on that problem (it still exists).

So earlier I told you that I took over management of a couple of sponsored accounts, the ones that just allow you to do a little more with your account like add a slideshow and special announcements and directly contact reviewers and it didn’t take long for me to realize these were next to useless, especially considering the $300 – $750 they were charging. There’s also the option where your ad will appear on other listings which is ridiculously based on impressions rather than clicks and as such, was a lot more expensive. I also learned that the clients were locked into an annual agreement so we had to wait until it ran out. The results were very ordinary too. One of the accounts averaged 15 visitors to the website from Yelp with 0 conversions, the other did generate a good amount of traffic to their site but about the same as before the “sponsored” account making their $3600 a pretty poor investment.

And now the latest is that I’ve been watching a client listing lose good reviews due to the “review filter” to be told that they didn’t feel the reviews to be genuine and meanwhile a competitor quite obviously has his own review (including his picture and name) on his own listing. It was flagged a while ago but it’s still there. One can only suspect they are paying for the privilege?

So I’ve gone cold on the service. They keep talking about transparency and changing options but I’m pretty much boycotting it and think they’ve screwed the pooch by not listening to the community earlier and creating some pretty ridiculous options for customers and businesses. I’m backing UrbanSpoon right now.