Magic Touch Mechanical Reviews on Yelp
Recently, I read a Facebook post in which the owner of a local restaurant I frequent, was asking anyone who had eaten there to please write a review on Yelp. She was, as she put it; “very worried about some untrue reviews people had written”, and in particular, one where a woman “wrote a scathing review because [they] wouldn’t accept an expired coupon.”
To my surprise, and frankly my delight, most of the 300+ comments that followed were people advising her; “not to be concerned” because “they didn’t bother reading Yelp reviews because they don’t trust them” and many who mentioned they were business owners themselves and “knew Yelp is pay-to-play”, “hides good reviews and promotes bad reviews on businesses that don’t pay their advertising fees”, etc.
The reason I was delighted to read so many of those comments was I had no idea just how many people realized Yelp reviews were not as trustworthy as other review sites such as; Google, Angie’s List, Kudzu, Facebook, Recommend-Me, and a dozen others (we all know there is no shortage of review sites nowadays).
I’m going to use Magic Touch Mechanical’s reviews in this article as an example; and join the ranks of thousands of small business owners all over the country, that have publicly called out Yelp for their questionable hidden reviews and the resulting curious star rating system.
Yelp’s questionable review “algorithm” has garnered thousands of complaints from business owners all over the nation to government, and consumer protection agencies, with claims of extortion and other unscrupulous business practices. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has received over 2,000 complaints against the San Francisco based review giant.
According to one article in The Los Angeles Times, an investigating journalist called “Yelp’s tactics nefarious and fishy” after researching various business owners claims of disappearing positive reviews upon cancelling advertising contracts with Yelp.
Perhaps most telling is the current production of a documentary being called “Billion Dollar Bully”, which not only has collected hundreds of documented cases of these reported ‘fishy tactics’, they have actual phone recordings from Yelp salespeople! Check out the opening few seconds of this trailer (one of many) for Billion Dollar Bully to hear what business owners have been reporting to the FTC, BBB, and Consumer Affairs for several years.
Perhaps the most amusing and somewhat telling tidbit about just how people think about Yelp and their ‘mafia-like practices’, is Yelp’s reviews on Yelp.com itself. As of the date of this article, Yelp is rated 2.5 STARS on Yelp out of 7,330 showing a.k.a. “recommended” reviews.
Even more telling are the 9,494 hidden, a.k.a. “not recommended” reviews which seem to be overwhelmingly, 1-star reviews of Yelp themselves! This is quite the opposite of what business owners who cancel, or never buy advertising from Yelp complain about, most of whom complain about the number of 5-star reviews that get hidden, not 1-star reviews that are hidden on Yelp’s own profile.
Then there’s the Better Business Bureau report on Yelp, which as of today, shows 1,454 complaints against Yelp – in the last three years alone. Much like Yelp, the BBB also has their own review section for people who don’t want to go through the complete process of filing a complaint. Currently Yelp has 213 negative reviews out of a total of 225 reviews on the BBB’s report of the company. To put that into perspective, 9.6 out of 10 people who have reviewed Yelp themselves on a platform that does not “filter” any reviews (positive or negative), have posted a negative review.
As of recently when you search for a company by name on Google, if someone has written reviews about that company on any of the popular review websites, they show up on page 1 or 2 with a graphic of the star rating. In the past, it was usually just Yelp that had a star rating graphic, but now Google displays this graphic for most review sites. When you see all of these review sites star-ratings side-by-side, it makes something look quite amiss at Yelp.
Before I reveal what I’ve personally witnessed and experienced about Yelp’s questionable practices, it’s important to share the star rating of my own service business on 10 popular review sites that show up on page 1 and 2 when searching “Magic Touch Mechanical”.
Magic Touch Mechanical overall ratings on 10 popular consumer review sites (Updated Summer 2018)
Yelp: 3.0 Stars / 18 Reviews*
Angie’s List: A Rated / 620 Reviews
Kudzu: 5.0 Stars / 249 Reviews
Google: 4.4 Stars / 92 Reviews
BBB: 4.9 Stars / 36 Reviews
Facebook: 5.0 Stars / 28 Reviews
Nearby Now: 4.9 Stars / 358 Reviews
Houzz: 5.0 Stars / 3 Reviews
SuperPages: 5.0 Stars / 3 Reviews
Lennox.com 4.6 Stars / 111 Reviews
Total number of reviews from the 9 websites above (excluding Yelp): 1,500
Average star rating from the 9 websites above (excluding Yelp): 4.87 out of 5.0
As you can see above, there’s something very interesting going on…55% of Yelpers hate us!
However, 97% of reviewers love us on: Angie’s List, Kudzu, Google, the Better Business Bureau, Facebook, Nearby Now, Houzz, Super-Pages, Lennox Website, and well, just about every other consumer review website online.
How can that be? How can 1,500 people rate Magic Touch Mechanical an average 4.87 Stars on nine different websites, and then Yelpers rate us an average of 3 Stars?
The answer: Hidden reviews, or what Yelp calls “Not Recommended Reviews” previously “Filtered Reviews”. For example; Yelp has classified 18 customer reviews written about Magic Touch Mechanical on their website as: “Not Recommended”, so they are hidden in a light gray link at the bottom of the page which most people don’t even know exists. See the breakdown below.
Magic Touch Mechanical’s showing and hidden reviews on Yelp
Total 5-Star Reviews Showing: 8 Total 5-Star Reviews Hidden: 19
Total 4-Star Reviews Showing: 0 Total 4-Star Reviews Hidden: 2
Total 3-Star Reviews Showing: 0 Total 3-Star Reviews Hidden: 0
Total 2-Star Reviews Showing: 2 Total 2-Star Reviews Hidden: 1
Total 1-Star Reviews Showing: 8 Total 1-Star Reviews Hidden: 7
Total Reviews Showing: 18 Total Reviews Hidden: 29
Average Rating Showing: 3.0 Average Rating Hidden: 4.0
It’s important to point out that these reviews were not always hidden or, excuse me – “not recommended”, many were showing prior to receiving phone calls from Yelp’s sales people stating they could “help us with our poor ratings on Yelp.” For the low, low, price of $300 per month, they can “help us with our ratings?” Ironically, the nine other review sites listed above don’t offer to “help” with a business’s ratings, nor do they hide any reviews – all reviews positive or negative are posted on all nine other sites. Curious, right?
Now that you’ve seen the ten review sites above side-by-side, let me share my experience with Yelp. Keep in mind, Magic Touch Mechanical has almost 1,200 customer reviews written about our company over the last 10-12 years since review sites started to become more and more popular. We’ve had a number of negative reviews written about us – some deserved, some maybe not – you can’t last twenty years in business like we have and not be able to please some people, or make a mistake, it’s just unavoidable…we’re all human! But we do whatever we can to deliver great service all the time, and when we fall short we do what it takes to make things right.
All of Magic Touch Mechanical’s reviews were getting us noticed, and we encouraged people to write a review on their favorite site online…and many obviously did. Then one day in 2012, we received our first review on Yelp.com, and it was negative. But it was more than just a negative review, it was completely fabricated. The review alleged that “every time [she] called it took two weeks to get repaired, and the last time it took 10-days before someone could even come out” – in 20-years in business we’ve NEVER been that booked up, in fact we have a written “Service within 24-hours Guarantee” and usually can be there the same day. The review continued with other made-up statements but you get the idea of where this is going. I felt that after people saw and read some of the hundreds upon hundreds of wonderful reviews customers had written about their experience with us people would see right through a review like this and take it with a grain of salt.
I was right, other Yelp’ers started to leave wonderful reviews about us and pretty soon we had a pretty decent star rating on Yelp. Then one day I took a call from a solicitor from Yelp, who explained their different advertising programs and how they “could further improve our online reputation.”
I listened, and even considered it, but ultimately didn’t see the value in it as we already had a decent rating and the monthly price seemed steep for what you got, so I respectfully declined. Literally the next day, just like thousands of other business owners say happened to them our positive reviews disappeared and our star rating dropped from 4-stars to 1 (currently 2).
I am comfortable sharing our story for three reasons:
- The reviews from 10 reputable websites and literally over 1000 customers speak for themselves. It would be one thing if other review sites showed a similar pattern of negative reviews but as you can see above Yelp is the only site that looks unusual compared to the rest.
- After reading the Facebook comments it struck me that many people do know how Yelp works and the fact that their business model is based on what others have called ‘flat out extortion’.
- The worse they can do is hide the few positive reviews they have not hidden at this point which would drop us from 2-stars to 1-star…which frankly will only provide further proof of how they manipulate ratings.
If you live in or near Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler or Peoria and would like to experience 4.78 – Star service for any of your home air conditioning, insulation, or energy saving needs; give is a call today! Post your positive review on Yelp and watch it disappear to the “not recommended” file yourself!