March 17th, 2010

Yelp Cheats

I've just discovered for myself that Yelp cheats, hiding bad reviews presumably if a store owner desires it (the rumor is that Yelp charges for this service).

On December 18th, 2009, I logged into Yelp for the first time and provided some reviews to the establishments I was familiar with.  I wrote one scathing review about Scopazzi's Restaurant and Lounge, here in Boulder Creek:

* . . . .    (one star of five)  12/18/2009

"Living in Boulder Creek, I've had several opportunities to give
Scopazzi's a fair shot. The first time, I took a visiting relative
there. The food tasted mediocre and was overpriced, but the clincher was
the awful digestive reaction I had for the remainder of the evening. I
decided that Scopazzi's wasn't worth the visit.

The second time, I was invited to a close friend's engagement party. I couldn't
decline on account of the location, so I went and ate solidly mediocre fare.
Again, I wound up on the toilet for the rest of the night.

The third time, my son was invited to a neighbor's child's birthday party,
and was obligated to go on account of the closeness of our children.
This time, the food actually tasted pretty good, however it turned out
that the entire party wound up with horrible food poisoning. I didn't
wind up in the bathroom, that night... both I and my son wound up in the
hospital hooked up to an IV due to the dehydration.

So... eat here at your own risk."
On December 27th, I received a message from "Bryan J.", claiming to be the owner of Scopazzi's:

"why are you lying?  if the whole party got food poisoned there would be
people calling off the hook and others who ate the same food you did
would also be sick. a whole group doesnt get poisoned and not call the
establishment. dont eat rich fatty foods if your stomach doesnt agree.
 why do so many people come back if they got sick.  why would we be in
business for decades if we made people sick.

hospital and iv? yah
right greg maybe it was the swine"

I replied:

"Hi, Bryan.  Considering that I actually did wind up hooked up to an IV
at Dominican and that several people can attest to this, it's rather
rude to insist that I am, and my review will stand.  Let's knock that
rudeness off.  The poisoning occurred on Friday October 20th, 2006.  I
understand that Talal Janbay may have owned Scopazzi's at the time,
which is why you might not know anything about it.  In fact, several
people at the party that night did get sick, and we were able to
identify that only the folks who ate the raviolis wound up in
gastrointestinal distress.  The event's hosts, M------ and M--- B------,
were the ones who handled communication with the restaurant, and I
don't know to what extent this was done.

You probably know M------ and M---, considering how deeply their roots run in
SLV.  If you'd like to confirm with them, the night was Friday, October 20th,
2006 and the event was M------ and M--- B------'s first daughter
A------'s first birthday.  I'm sure you know them considering how deeply
their families both go into SLV's roots.  Feel free to give either one
of them a call to ask if it's true that several people in the party got
food poisoning and that both I and my one year old son wound up in
Dominican as a result.

If you'd like to speak with me personally to discuss this, my number is ###-####,
and I live about a two-minute walk from your establishment so I'd be happy to swing
by and share the experience with you in person if that'd make it more believable for you."

And then I remembered that I documented the event in my LiveJournal, and replied:

"Also, as the events at which I got sick from Scopazzi meals were so
memorable, I blogged about them:

(November 6th, 2006)

So it appears I was incorrect in my message above about the date.  I can
say with certainty I got ill on November 3rd and wound up at Dominican
in the wee hours of November 5th, 2006."

Things seemed pleasant afterward.  Bryan responded, simply, with: "sorry you got sick."  I replied, "Thank you, Bryan."  And I thought that was it.

Tonight, I read this NPR article about "Yelpola", and thought, "Hrmmm.  Maybe I should check on that Scopazzi's review.  So I did, but first I wasn't logged into my account and was quite surprised to see that my review wasn't listed among the 27 reviews.  I thought perhaps it was deleted without notice, so I logged in to check, and saw that it was still in my list of reviews.  I went back to the Scopazzi's listing, reloaded the page, and found that suddenly it was there (in the middle of page 2, one of 28 reviews)!  Just to be certain, I cleared my cookies (okay, actually I just switched to Chrome's Incognito mode which does the same thing), and my review disappeared once again.  So there you have it.  You just can't trust Yelp.  No wonder Google walked away from them.