We dated the Zeros… so you don’t have to.


Is Yelp! Hurting or Helping?


My drama with Yelp! has been well documented on this blog. From one bad review of a hair salon, I’ve been harassed, been involved in endless back-and-forth emails, been contacted by the hairdresser’s girlfriend – and all for a ho-hum haircut by a seemingly bizarre hairdresser.  The other day on NPR’s The Pat Morrison Show they were discussing the ethics of online reviews.  It detailed how several businesses were dramatically hurt financially by a slew of bad comments.  My first reaction was “Why so many bad comments – if a business runs itself in a shoddy manner, then these are the consequences.”  But when I heard the full story of disgruntled customers with a mix of spite, I walked away feeling really sorry for the some of the businesses.

It was with this renewed sensitivity to small businesses dealing with bad Yelp reviews that I received the most recent (and hopefully final email) from the hairdresser:

 I thought you were someone else trying to hurt me and my business… i just honestly do not know who you are , I’m sorry that you felt that way…… I strive to give everybody a great hair cut at a great price and treat everybody with respect and upmost professionalism and kindness and again i am sorry you felt the way you did…..This is my business , I have respect for all my clients , and I love my business ….Though.i would never bully anybody to give me a good review on Yelp….. but again I am sorry you felt the way you did…sincerely XXX

Despite my annoyance at this entire sequence of events, his shockingly poor grammar and sentence structure, and that deep down I think he’s bullshitting because he knows he wrote and said all the things he did, I felt a pang of guilt.

Then I heard about paying for good reviews – even though sites like Yelp say they use filtering techniques to block these types of services – you have to wonder, who’s advice are we getting?  Are our best intentions of providing honest reviews based on our personal experiences really what we’re reading?  Does this go back to the notion that maybe honesty isn’t always the best policy?  I recently had a friend tell me they wrote a poor review of a restaurant, so the restaurant contacted them and they were comped a $200 meal with endless wine at a fairly respectable steakhouse. He was pleasantly surprised and pleased by this, but did he write a review of this experience? Do we write more of our bad experiences than we do the good? I felt bad about my bad review so I purposely went out and wrote several 5 star reviews of places I loved to somehow balance my Yelp karma.  I think it worked.

I recently bought a facial on Lifebooker.com. I meticuously read all of the reviews on Yelp! about this place. The woman giving the facials got exceptional reviews. I looked for the bad reviews to see what people had problems with and then tried to balance an overall opinion.  I had to agree with the exceptional reviews. She was fantastic. I got a great facial, and I’d go back in  a heartbeat. For this place, Yelp is helping – but then I think back to this crazy, pathetic hairdresser who has driven me nuts over the last few months.  Do I keep the bad review up when he so desperately wants me to take it down?  Am I hurting this man’s business and income – which in this economy makes me feel kind of shitty. I have to think am now I just engaged in a stubborn Yelp war with someone I don’t even care about just to prove my point. I wanted to put my opinion out there because mostly, I thought this guy was creepy.  As for a haircut – his actual business – I didn’t have a huge problem with him.  He gave a good haircut. Then again, I was creeped out by him.  I felt that his personal salon, alone on the bottom floor of his bungalow home in the Hollywood Hills was a little unsafe, and as a woman I wanted to warn other women.  Am I hurting him or his business, and isn’t it sort of the same thing.  What do I do?

Since this started on the internet with my opinion, I thought I’d find an answer on the internet from other people’s opinions.  I’m asking you.  Today’s poll is personal…

A Zeros Before the One Poll

Do I take down the 1 star, bad review of this hairdresser on Yelp! He has tons of great, 5 star reviews although mine comes up second and could be doing some harm to his business.

View Results

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