I hesitated a while before I wrote this page. I have used Yelp for most of this century. Mostly I look up restaurants when I am in far away towns, or find lodging while I am still hours from my destination. Many times, I have utilized Yelp to help stranded friends or customers find good mechanics in other states. Sometimes I read all the reviews, sometimes I just skim through. I have become very adept at sorting out the trolls from the princes. Often I just start by arranging the ratings from low to high to get a sense of the nature of the hate involved. Often, I do not find much accurate or useful information. Then I rearrange by high to low and look for keywords. Then I sort by date and look for change.
Some one-star Yelp people are just writing like they are screaming over their shoulder on their way out after their first visit. A couple of them have never been to Karmakanix, although we know who they are. With a few of them, we have no idea who they are, or what they are talking about. A couple are wannabe lawyers. One of those other one star reviewers is actually right. We blew it.
We try to communicate with one stars through Yelp before leaving a business response, but rarely do we get an answer. A few times, we have received a review over one, or even two years after the customer’s visit. And many are anonymous, almost all do not use their real names. Almost all have way more one star reviews than all their other reviews. Many have given 5 star to other businesses only to change to a one star later. One reviewer has over 700 reviews, what do you think this guy does? Most negative reviews are incredibly verbose, and often over little things. And most have strayed way away from the facts.
I am not an angry man, and it annoys and intimidates me when angry people yell and lie. In the real world, I just walk away. I was brought up that way. In the business world, you just have to stand there and take it. Although I have twice, only, asked a customer to leave because the profanity was enough to make a sailor leave a bar. I like to think that in both occasions, they just assumed that mechanics must swear a lot, and that was how they should communicate with us.
I believe in an old Chinese philosophy called Wu Wei. It is the Taoist equivalent of letting something be. Among its principles is the idea that if you say something, it sticks around in the world forever. And the words and intentions follow you forever. It would seem that to write something also fits this category. Anything that you write on the internet is going to follow you around forever, as well as the intended victim. Kind of like the bad penny. Or the bad piece of pork. Or the comic that won’t quit. Or the mangy dog that you think might have a closet case of rabies……..
As much as I appreciate customers leaving good reviews on Yelp for the public to feast on, I feel rather strongly that Yelp does not necessarily reflect the real cross section of a customer base. It represents the enthusiastic. Which is not a bad thing. It is just not complete enough to be the real story. Let’s see: Somewhere over Yelp 100 reviews, and we have over 6000 customers… hmmm.