When I started my cooking school in San Diego, I was genuinely interested to know what my customers (children and adults) are thinking about my offering, my service, open events, etc. I always engage my clients to make sure the expectations are met and that they walk out of here satisfied so that I have a return customer not a one time client.

Now two years into my business and with a retention rate envied by any business (not just cooking schools in San Diego), I know that my formula is right because my customers come back and refer me to friends, colleagues, family. They celebrate birthdays, have showers, birthday parties, corporate team building events, etc here. Nevertheless, my 34 positive reviews from the same customers are filtered in Yelp and 3 bad reviews from members of the same family who went on a Jihad against me, are highlighted.

Wouldn’t you ask yourself why? How strange? Well, since I am also a reviewer on Yelp myself, I did contact the company through a maze of emails, messages, etc and I finally got an answer: “it’s our algorithm” they say.

Of course it must be their “algorithm” who filters stuff but I don’t believe in this magical algorithm for a moment because it filters the good and leaves the bad ones on screen the minute you refuse to advertise I had all my positive reviews on the screen until the day I refused to advertise with them. Even yelpers with many friends and reviews are blocked when they say something nice… believe you me, they are not related to me. No relative of mine lives in this town and none is a yelper.

At first I let this ruin my life but now I laugh at it and I have learned to live as if yelp didn’t exist even though I know that people yelp my business. My advice to you is to also do the same – live in alternate reality and provide the best service to your core customers. And well, if the readers don’t realize that a certain category of customers are simply never pleased, then I better never have such customers. If they see through it, then you and I are there for them with open arms and if they don’t see that yelp is a business in need of advertisers to survive, well then we shall rest our case.

The point is, in the age of social media and the labyrinth you have to navigate in it, you may never do right by certain people who will hide behind the curtain of anonymity and use tools such as yelp to trash hard working business owners. I have even had people who would negotiate a price and bargain to write a review for you in return for a lower price. Who yelps them we shall ask?

I have heard tons of business owners who have had the exact same experience and would love to hear consumers’ perspective on this issue.