My Letter to Yelp (And the Aggravated Masses)

Dearest Yelp (and its users),

First off, I just wanted to write and say that I believe you were created for good.

You seemed to have had the right idea about helping businesses get real reviews from real customers.

I was once a Yelper. I put the livelihood of a cafe/restaurant in my hands. I rated them out of five stars and added my two cents about food and service. After all, we are entitled to our own opinions.

image courtesy of NPR media

The problem is, people started writing terrible reviews. People would give 1 out of 5 stars to a restaurant because they didn’t offer vegan dishes. People would slam counter service and waitstaff because they don’t understand the difference in overhead.

You write the saddest things about not getting enough napkins, or having to refill your own water cup.

You were bummed when the chef was not present to answer your question about the saturated fat content of your curly fries.

So you wrote a bomb review.

“I was upset at the timing of my salad…”

Meanwhile, the manager of said restaurant is getting talked to by the owners.

“Hey man, we need to work on customer service…”


I’ve watched business owners get eaten up with Yelp reviews. They are so incredibly hard on themselves and pass it on down. Misery loves company. (And sh*t runs downhill, right?)

Oh, and what’s up with taking away good reviews when business owners and chefs decide to not give you (Yelp) money? Or paying for good reviews and taking away the bad?

You are a corrupt machine, like so many others.

And you’re taking yourselves too seriously.

You shouldn’t review a restaurant after one experience. Come on, you know that. So stop complaining that the waitress didn’t sit at your table to take your order.

So here’s what I advise.

Do not write a review to hurt a business.

You have no idea how hard it is to make a restaurant run smoothly. Often at the cost of so much more than that plate of food on your table. Give it some space to improve. If it doesn’t, spend your money somewhere else. Do not tear down a restaurant because you have a personal vendetta. Businesses fail all the time. You don’t need to add to their suffering. In the way of natural selection, the strong will survive.

If you do want to write a review, know that there is a manager or owner probably taking it into account. Be constructive.

Don’t expect a response.

I know some owners who respond to Yelp reviews. I used to be a manager who would respond. Especially after making a personally driven attack on a co-worker. But I’m over it. People who write nasty things generally aren’t interested in dialogue.

People actually use Yelp when determining where to eat.

I discourage this. But I know your money is precious and you want to eat somewhere knowing you’ll get what you paid for.

Give the place a chance.

If it sucks, give it some time and try it again. If it still sucks, well, I think you should probably let it be. The dining public tends to sort those things out. Research the restaurant a bit before you go out. Know what to expect. Know what you might be getting into.

If you give a cafe a bad review based on their Wi-Fi connection, you should seriously question your goodness as a human being. (Sort of kidding, but not really.)

At the end of the day, we do actually care about what our customers say and think. It’s why we do what we do. So know if you write a scathing review, it will hit us hard. It takes 100 compliments to make up for one bad.

And really, is anything ever that bad?

Yelp can help and hurt businesses.

Believe it or not, there is power in your words, so don’t just throw them around.

But then again,

that’s just my opinion.



4 responses to “My Letter to Yelp (And the Aggravated Masses)”

  1. Good one! And another thing. ….. human tendency is that we are more likely to leave feedback after a negative experience than after a positive one……so we should take the bad ones with a tbsp of salt 🙂

  2. Yeah, once I had a Birthday dinner at a restaurant (back in ’94 – Macon, GA) and discovered a cricket in the bread basket. I continued to eat dinner that night (despite the slightly queasy feeling I was having). About 2 months later a friends of mine went there and discovered a brightly-painted (red) fingernail in her salad (I could not bring myself to eat there again post cricket). When she sent it back the owner commented that he had TOLD the waitress to wear gloves when preparing the salad. YIKES!

    I never actually had to “review” this restaurant (although, in ’94, where would I have done that??). A few short weeks after the fingernail incident, it was closed. You were correct in saying “The dining public tends to sort those things out.”

    I try to take care in writing a poor review (except when it comes to books – in that arena I am relentless :)), knowing that one review (either good or bad) usually represents 100 others who did not write one. Just please don’t ever let me find a cricket in your bread basket! I may know they are somewhere in your kitchen, but I don’t want to see it munching on my food … unless, of course, it intends to pay. 😉

  3. I absolutely agree! Well said!
    From my personal experience I can say that usually those who complain (in UK- in form of a letter straight to the head office) are usually remembered by waiting staff because they are the DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS… So please, people, don’t go out to stress out at somebody who is falling of his/hers legs on 15th hour of they shift. Be kind, chill out, have a good time and treat people- who work they a** off for you to have a good experience- as fellow human being…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: