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Awards & Reputation

We pride ourselves with maintaining a good reputation. We know that we couldn't have gotten to where we are without loyal customers and referrals.  When we are given awards we are very appreciative. Over the years we have been selected for many honors, such as "Best of Philly" in 2007 and 2012, voted "Top 500 Remodeler" in the country, awarded "Top Family Owned Business" by Philadelphia Business Journal in 2013 and 2014, and winner of "Angie's List" service award in 2009. We maintain a positive Better Business Bureau record and have above average ratings on Dun & Bradstreet.

About Yelp

Yelp is a website and mobile app that connects people with great local businesses. Founded in July 2004, Yelp has taken root in countries across the globe, making it the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. The Yelp community is made up of engaged locals who connect online and off to share their opinions about local businesses.

Yelp's website, Yelp.com, is a crowd-sourced local business review and social networking site. It is primarily active in major metropolitan regions. The site has pages devoted to individual locations, such as restaurants or schools, where website users can submit a review on their products or services using a one to five star rating system. As of 2014, Yelp.com had 132 million monthly visitors and 57 million reviews.

The Trouble With Yelp...

 
Mr. Contractor endorses social media and encourages online reviews. We think it is a great tool and it keeps us working harder to please our customers. But we find it frustrating when we receive bad reviews from anonymous people that are not even our customers. The reviews are blatant fabrications and possibly done by competitors. We question the authenticity of Yelp when we are constantly solicited by Yelp marketers seeking advertisement contracts. We are promised personal attention and preferential treatment on reviews. Furthermore, we are promised that our 20+ positive reviews will be prominently displayed and removed from their "hidden" filtered section. Incidentally, when we turned down Yelp's repeated solicitations to enroll in an advertising agreement all our future positive reviews were also "hidden". Of course, when we asked for our page to be removed we were denied by Yelp. Although we do not endorse Yelp, it seems Yelp is here to stay for now. Many people turn to it because it is all they are accustomed to based on popularity (and because it is free to use). We at Mr. Contractor pride our reputation and survive by repeat customers and new referrals.
 
As Yelp became more influential, the practice of fake reviews written by competitors or business owners became more prevalent. A study from Harvard professor Michael Luca analyzed 316,415 reviews in Boston and found that fake reviews rose from 6% of the site's reviews in 2006 to 20% in 2014.  A 2014 survey of 300 small business owners done by Yodle found that 78 percent were concerned about negative reviews. Also, 43 percent of respondents said they felt online reviews were unfair, because there is no verification that the review is written by a legitimate customer. Yelp's own review filter identifies 25 percent of reviews as suspicious. Yelp has a proprietary algorithm that attempts to evaluate whether a review is authentic and filters-out reviews that it believes are not based on a patron's actual personal experiences, as required by the site's Terms of Use. The review filter was first developed two weeks after the site was founded and the company saw their "first obviously fake reviews." Filtered reviews are moved into a special area and not counted towards the businesses' star-rating. The filter sometimes filters legitimate reviews, leading to complaints from business owners. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Yelp has "the most aggressive" astroturfing filter out of the crowd-sourced websites it looked into. Yelp has also been criticized for not disclosing how the filter works, which it says would reveal information on how to out-smart it.

According to BusinessWeek, Yelp has "always had a complicated relationship with small businesses."Throughout much of its history there have been allegations that Yelp has manipulated their website's reviews based on participation in its advertising programs. Many business owners say Yelp salespeople offered to remove or suppress negative reviews if they purchase advertising. Yelp says its sales staff do not have the ability to modify reviews and that the changes in the reviews are caused by its automated review filter. Several lawsuits have been filed against Yelp accusing it of extorting businesses into buying advertising products. Each have been dismissed by a judge before reaching trial. In early 2010, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Yelp alleging it asked a Long Beach veterinary hospital to pay $300 a month for advertising services that included the suppression or deletion of disparaging customer reviews. The following month, nine additional businesses joined the class-action lawsuit, and two similar lawsuits were filed. In May the lawsuits were combined into one class-action lawsuit, which was dismissed by San Francisco U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in 2011. Chen said the reviews were protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and that there was no evidence of manipulation by Yelp. The plaintiffs filed an appeal. In September 2014 the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal, finding that even if Yelp did manipulate reviews to favor advertisers, this would not fall under the court's legal definition of extortion. In August 2013, Yelp launched a series of town hall style meetings in 22 major American cities intended to address concerns among local business owners. Many attendees expressed frustrations with Yelp's automated filter removing positive reviews after they decline to advertise, receiving reviews from users that never entered the establishment, and other issues. The Federal Trade Commission received 2,046 complaints about Yelp from 2008 to 2014, mostly from small businesses regarding allegedly unfair or fake reviews or negative reviews that appear after declining to advertise.
Example: News Articles about Yelp...
How one restaurant fought Yelp’s alleged extortion | New York Post Link PDF
Yelp Reviews Brew Fight Over Free Speech, Fairness | WSJ Link PDF
$750K lawsuit over Yelp review will go to trial | The Washington Post Link PDF
Businesses accusing Yelp of extortion lose another round in court | LA Times Link PDF
Example: Online Comments at Wall Street Journal about Yelp
Unfortunately, the Yelp filters do not detect fake or misleading reviews posted by a customer. None of the Yelp reviews are checked for accuracy or truthfulness...and Yelp knows this. However, Yelp continues to mislead all users (including the media, advertisers, and internet users) that Yelp has a "Filter" that will "reliably" recommend or not recommend reviews. Yelp does not care about truthful or fair reviews they only want their Yelp internet traffic to increase and for users to think the Yelp reviews are reliably recommended or reliably not recommended. Unfortunately for small businesses, the "Yelp Filter" is not reliable.. not even close. Yelp mostly filters away a random selection of reviews mostly some of the very best reviews a small business has earned. For example, any user (maybe a group of abusive people) will often attack a small business by getting their friends and relatives (who were never a customer) to write fake and misleading negative reviews about a small business. As an owner of a business I have been forced because of Yelp to treat abusive customers very well in fear they will leave a negative review. I tell my staff better to take some abuse then have customer write a negative 1 star review. Also Yelp has no phone number to complain about a libelous review - only an email address. Every time I have tried to get a false or libelous review removed Yelp turns down my request. I am sure most business owners have had the same experience. Also when I respond to a review it is not exposed unless a reader clicks on my response. The reviewers comments are always exposed though. Yelps filter can determine which reviews gets shown and assigns an arbitrary star system that can frequently harm a good business.
My experience with Yelp is that it's more of an extortion racket than an honest review site. They hide some reviews, and show others, which can skew the public's perception of a business unfairly. Business owners are not able to retort a negative review without paying for a business membership (i.e. Protection money,) thus giving Yelp an incentive to show more negative reviews to non-paying businesses. This has nothing to do with free speech, and everything to do with racketeering. Yelp should pay dearly for the damage they've caused businesses that aren't under their protection. Agreed: YELP is little more than a shake-down operation. Identifying reviewers would be best, but, at a minimum, they need to post all reviews, and stop the game of posting mostly good, or mostly bad, ones. Also, Amazon has a "verified purchase" flag. Perhaps each business could use a rapidly changing code it gives to patrons, who must put that code on a review for YELP to post it. After seeing how they buried the good reviews and posted the few bad reviews of an excellent local restaurant, who wouldn't advertise with them, I'll never use them again. I'll never buy their stock either.

With Over 30 Reviews - Here Are Some Examples

Reviews #1 to #6 Reviews #7 to #12 Reviews #13 to #18: 
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