Yelp Needs Help

By Makenna Adams

The following article will come across as ironic. I am about to complain about Yelp, the website where users review businesses, when what angers me about Yelp is that most of its users take advantage of the site with the sole intent to complain. Please, forgive the irony and consider what I have to say: Yelp is the least effective website in the world. 

Yelp was created in July 2004 in San Francisco, with the mission to “publish crowd-sourced reviews about businesses”. Certainly, Yelp has the power to give businesses an advantage. When someone leaves a positive review, others refer to it and are more inclined to try out the business. I have seen many positive reviews, and it makes me happy to see business owners interacting with positive posts, thanking Yelpers for the review and so on. In fact, some businesses rely on Yelp so much for publicity that they even have offers such as “like us on Yelp and receive a free dessert!” Unfortunately, the good that the positive reviews do for a business is outweighed by the harmful negative reviews. 

Here lies my issue with Yelp: people use it to complain about every aspect of their experience, but especially use it to complain about employees. Sometimes, sifting through Yelp reviews is entertaining. I enjoy reading about grown adults putting up a fit online as much as the next person. Perhaps they are distraught because their coffee was lukewarm, not slightly warmer than average as they requested, or because their bagel had two tomato slices when they were expecting three. Mundane, trivial comments from tightly-wound customers don’t bother me, and I doubt they bother businesses either. Where I have to draw the line is when customers specifically attack employees and their characters. 

People feel so protected online. Too many Yelpers, hiding behind a screen, use the site to leave scathing reviews with the sole intention of attacking employees. Customers take one look at a product that is off by one miniscule aspect and the employee who made it is “unfit for the job,” the cashier who took the order had “an extremely bad attitude” and the manager was “so unagreeable she was probably half-drunk.” These are real descriptions from a Yelp review I found in the first minute of researching for this article. If you have that big of a problem with one part of your experience, just go home. Make your own sandwich. Calling out workers specifically, instead of the product or service, is unacceptable. Don’t go to Yelp to take out your far-too-long internalized anger at the world on an employee, who I guarantee is not making your sandwich wrong just to spite you.