i want to tell a story about @Yelp. this will be a thread.
so, i am the owner of a small gift boutique in a tourist town in california. the business has been there for almost 20 years; it's historically been part of a cluster of different businesses (restaurant, gas station, shops) on the same property that all share the same address.
the town where i live is subject to periodic road closures due to landslides. there is only one road in and out of town, highway 1. in february 2017, earth movement undermined a small bridge & forced the complete closure of the road there to demolish and rebuild the bridge.
then, a few months later, in may 2017, a landslide around 30ish miles south of the bridge obliterated 1/4 mile of the highway there, cutting off the section of highway in between the bridge and the slide from all tourism and access. my shop was located in this middle section.
my gift shop, like most other businesses on the "south side" of the bridge, was forced to close until the bridge was repaired. this took almost exactly 8 months. the massive landslide took longer; it was not opened to traffic until late july 2018.
now, i purchased my gift shop in 2013. at the time, there was a rudimentary website and a couple of social media pages that the previous owners had started, which i took over. there was a facebook page and a google+ presence. there was also a Yelp page. HOWEVER.
the Yelp page, although listed under my gift shop's name, was full of reviews and photos of a DIFFERENT BUSINESS on the SAME PROPERTY with the SAME ADDRESS which had been there for a couple years, but had CLOSED by the time i took over my shop. the page had never been claimed.
i went ahead and claimed the page, because it had the *name of my business on it*, even though the reviews were inaccurate. i added a couple photos of my ACTUAL shop, and also went through and replied to all the reviews for the wrong, closed business that it no longer existed.
then, i forgot about it. i never asked for a presence on @Yelp, because nobody does, and their information was wrong anyway, and i never monitored the page or cared overmuch. until the bridge was repaired and i was cold-called by the company, offering a free month of advertising.
i explained to them that i did not under any circumstances want to advertise on Yelp because the page that they had for me and that i had claimed was FULL OF PHOTOS AND REVIEWS FOR A DIFFERENT CLOSED BUSINESS THAT NO LONGER EVEN EXISTED. this was apparently a bit hard to grasp.
the guy kept harping on the fact that the CLOSED BUSINESS had the same address as mine. like, yep, that's right dude. so does the restaurant here, and the gas station, and the real estate office. SAME ADDRESS. doesn't mean it's the same business.
in any event, i finally got that through to the dude who called. and was like, i am not at all interested in advertising, even for free, a page with inaccurate information. i'm not interested in promoting a business that isn't there and giving people the wrong expectation.
i asked if the reviews referring to the CLOSED business and showing photos of the CLOSED business could be removed from the page. the answer was of course no, because Yelp likes to pretend that code is immortal and nobody anywhere in the company has the power to delete anything
HOWEVER, even though the guy said they couldn't remove individual reviews, he then offered to DELETE THE ENTIRE OLD PAGE with the wrong business, after which i could start a new one with the correct information! and i was like, yes, that would be great! i would love to do that.
well, friends and neighbors, it turns out that dude was TALKING OUT OF HIS ASS. because instead of DELETING the old page, which, let's remember, had my business' name, address, and also phone number on it (as well as some photos and even a couple reviews of my actual shop).......
so, to recap: after a natural disaster, during which i took a huge financial hit, @Yelp called me to offer free advertising for a month, promised me they'd eliminate erroneous information in order to get me to agree to it, and then MARKED MY BUSINESS CLOSED INSTEAD.
yes, they did allow me to create and claim a new page with accurate information. but due to the way their algorithm (and google's algorithm, and everybody's fucking algorithm) works, THE OLD PAGE SHOWED UP FIRST IN ALL SEARCHES, both on Yelp and on the web. because it was first
...and it was the page with more hits and reviews. and, to repeat: THEY TOLD ME THEY WOULD DELETE IT. they did NOT say they would just mark it closed. i never, ever would have agreed to that. THAT PAGE HAD ALL THE SAME CONTACT AND PHYSICAL INFORMATION as my actual business
i had vendors and customers emailing and calling me to ask why their google searches for my gift shop were surfacing "PERMANENTLY CLOSED". google+ and facebook BOTH contacted me after this fucking debacle saying that my shop had been marked "closed" and asking me to verify
YOU CAN IMAGINE, friends and neighbors, how much this shit pissed me the hell off. i am a small, independent business owner. i can't afford to have the goddamn internet telling everybody to not come to my store because it doesn't exist. and of course @Yelp was all, oops sorry but
...we can't delete anything! that's just not our policy! hands tied! which, bullshit. code isn't immortal and SOMEBODY at your company can delete the page that happens to have my name but actually is for a CLOSED BUSINESS. they told me i'd have to just "wait for the algorithm"
also, to reiterate? I DID NOT ASK FOR THIS. THEY called ME. THEY told ME they could delete the old page, in order to hook me into this advertising shit by offering me free ads because i had been the victim of a natural disaster. they were predatory and LIED.
and even after hours and hours of talking to them about this and explaining how they had just fucked me ENTIRELY OVER by marking the first google search for my shop "PERMANENTLY CLOSED" instead of deleting it, the only thing they would do for me was...
...to CHANGE THE NAME on the old page to the actual name of the closed business. that's it. they wouldn't delete or change the contact information or the photos or reviews of my actual shop that were extant on the old page. which meant anybody searching for me still would be...
...easily confused as to whether my store was open and whether it was the same or different than the CLOSED, DIFFERENT BUSINESS which had been reviewed on the original page. so, in conclusion? FUCK @Yelp. they're shit, predatory liars who frivolously, materially hurt my business.
and they had the absolute nerve to call me a couple months later to ask why i didn't want to pay $300 a month after my free trial to continue advertising with them. rotflmao. for fuck's sake.
end thread. and fuck @Yelp again and always.
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