For a while, Yelp and its CEO Stoppelman have been beating the anti-trust drum against Google. I don’t have problems with Google’s search monopoly coming under the regulatory microscope. But let’s not make Yelp a martyr — and let’s not give it a free ride in the media. Lately, it seems Guy Raz, The Verge, and many other publications are happy to carry Yelp’s water because it fits the big tech is evil narrative. Most conveniently overlook the fact that small businesses hate Yelp, and many think it is downright evil.
For starters, the company is thuggish in its sales tactics. Try to use its search function, and you are going to be looking at sponsored results. You pay to become a sponsored listing. You pay to become a verified listing. And if you don’t, you are buried way below the fold. Pot, meet, kettle!
I have yet to meet a small business owner who loves this company. Many have told me about the high pressure, bullshit tactics of the company and its sales team. In my own backyard, I can give examples of a dozen companies that have had terrible experiences. For instance, a Yelp salesperson might call a store when the owner is not around. They get an employee to sign up for a free plan — as long as they provide credit card information. Two weeks later… Bam! A charge for a few hundred dollars shows up. And by the way, this unexpected investment did nothing in terms of delivering new customers. And if you want to cancel? Good luck.
Om’s piece really struck a chord with me because I’ve had the unpleasant experience of dealing with Yelp a few years back. The pain and hassle of getting out of the contract that I got pushed into was all the more harrowing because I was caring for my terminally ill father at the time — yet even that didn’t move them as they demanded their pound of flesh.
Take my advice, do not touch Yelp with a bargepole.