Reviewing the reviews: Business owners say Yelp is ‘hiding’ most useful comments

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — Before you make a big purchase or a sign a contract for a service chances are you check the company out online.  Some suburban business owners said they’re not happy with a popular online review site who they claim is “hiding” some of the best — and most helpful — comments on Yelp.

“I went from 38 five-star reviews all the way down to six,” Pete Melidones, owner of 312 Flooring, said.

Melidones said Yelp has buried the majority of his reviews in a categorically it calls “not currently recommended.”  Those reviews are not easy to find.

“I really worked hard in the past year to improve my presence on Yelp and they’ve just decimated my reviews,” Melidones said.

In Arlington Heights, the owners of a business that provides home care for senior citizens say crucial information is being kept from potential customers.

“A lot of reviews that people need to see are being hidden,” Becky Reel of For Papa’s Sake Home Care said. It carries a five-star Yelp rating but the majority of its reviews are also not clearly visible to Yelp users.

A Yelp spokesperson told WGN Investigates the company uses “automated recommendation software” to highlight the most relevant reviews and screen out possible fakes.

“Yelp’s goal has always been to protect consumers and provide trustworthy and reliable content,” a Yelp spokesperson said. It’s intended to weed out biased reviews, unhelpful rants or raves and reviews written by less active users.

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