Laying The Smackdown On Cheaters

Whenever I’m looking to buy something expensive or need to hire a company for some type of service, I always start by looking online at the reviews.  Businesses know that having bad reviews of either products and/or services can send potential buyers running, so what do these businesses do?  Well, they can do the hard thing by listening to those negative reviews and improve the product/service in question (good), or they can cheat by hiring individuals to simply post good reviews to cover up the bad ones (bad).  Kudos to Yelp for pushing businesses to the former.

An article published in The New York Times highlights Yelp’s new push for accurate reviews on their site.  Yelp has had a filtering system in place for a while that looked at various factors about a review to determine if it might be fake.  However, Yelp recently took it a step further by conducting its own undercover operation.  One of the Yelp employees acted as an Elite Reviewer (someone on Yelp’s site who has lots of reviews and generally a good reputation) and posted ads through sites such as Craigslist.org. 

Businesses which were looking for Elite Reviewers to post positive reviews for them contacted this undercover reviewer.  The businesses busted in this sting operation now have a nice big label on their Yelp pages that state someone was caught trying to purchase reviews.

This is now the new policy for Yelp.  Any business that gets caught trying to purchase bogus reviews will have this label affixed to their Yelp page for 90 days as a warning to potential customers who might be looking at those reviews.  Moving forward, Yelp also has plans to display something similar for businesses that seem to have a lot of reviews coming from the same IP addresses.

Now, this system may not necessarily be perfect. In fact, if I wanted to smear a competitor’s name, perhaps I could pose as someone from a competitor’s business and purposely try to get “caught”.  Now, my competitor looks like a cheater.  However, I have to praise Yelp for trying.  Lots of consumers rely on those Yelp reviews when making a decision about which business to hire for services.

Do you want to know one of the characteristics between a good business and a bad one? 

-        A bad business is concerned more about protecting its own image. 

-        A good business understands that it may have flaws, but it listens to feedback from its customers/critics and makes improvements based on that feedback. 

Sure, a negative review might hurt a business in the short term.  However, which of these two businesses is likely to stay around in the long run?  One which listens to its customers, or one that doesn’t?

 The same can be said for those who lead.  A great leader listens to his/her people.  A bad leader is more concerned with making himself/herself look good.  Which one do you think will be around in the long run?

Leave your comments!

  1. Preach on, Ken! It is a shame many business people do not have enough character to desire honesty rather than a few dollars. We should all support the efforts by Yelp to uncover the cheaters.

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