Entries in Reviews (2)


Website Lets Businesses Share Notes on Bad Customers

Matt Stachel(NEW YORK) -- Customers can rate businesses on sites like the hyper-local Yelp, but where can businesses go to share comments about bad customers?

Matt Stachel, a landscape contractor in Feasterville, Pa., created just the website:

“ is the consequence of a bad customer,” Stachel, 33, said.

"I have worked for plenty of bad customers.  It really was just frustrating always seeing the one-sided story in the media or on Angie’s List or Yelp: the poor customer who gave a contractor a deposit and the contractor left.  Or a restaurant go-er will write, ‘My fork was smudged and I’ll never go back.  They stink,'” he said.

For $15 to $99, business owners can do the same about negative customer experiences.  Business owners can write about customers anonymously, sharing details about customers who, for example, reneged on a contract, warning other businesses to stay away.

“I get there are some bad business owners,” Stachel said.  “I’m not saying there are not.  But where’s my story of customers that my friends and I deal with?”

He likens the site to a reverse Better Business Bureau.

“We are just a resource for the service provider or business owner to rate and review their customer.  We give you the ability to know about your customer before you do an estimate and we empower you with the resource to help get money owed to you when you’ve worked for that customer,” Stachel said.

Stachel reviews every post before it goes on the site, making sure there aren’t profanities and that the member sticks to the facts.

He said many people ask him if there are concerns about slander.

“I always clear up for people that we’re no different than Angie’s list or the Better Business Bureau, or than the food critic that works at the newspaper judging an outlet,” he said.

Stachel said he started working on the site in 2009 and it launched in October 2009.  Membership recently started ballooning after the Philadelphia Metro newspaper and Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about him earlier this month.

He said membership is around 2,500 and growing, with over 11,000 page views on Monday alone.  He tries to work on the website every night from 6 p.m. to about midnight, plus weekends.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Yelp Outs Companies That Pay for Positive Reviews

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Yelp, the online review website, has taken on the role of private detective.

With more than 71 million visitors monthly, Yelp is using a computer filter to help uncover companies that purchase fake positive reviews, calling out the offenders and then showing the world its evidence.

Companies linked to fraudulent reviews are now slapped with an alert:  the Scarlet Letter of the Internet age.

“One jewelry store was paying someone $200 [to write a positive review],” said Vince Sollitto, Yelp’s vice president of corporate communications. “It kind of shows that this is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game. People are always going to try to game the system.”

Companies, though, say that Yelp reviews can either bring customers flooding into their establishments or running out the front door.

“We get good reviews,” said Elham Massarweh, a cafe owner. “That’s how people come in this place.”

According to various online reports, as many as 30 percent of online reviews are fake, from hotels to toys and books.

Yelp says it’s found that some businesses, such as Smith Brothers Appliance Repair, a Long Beach, Calif., moving company, are offering top dollar to have stellar reviews written and posted on their behalf.

“I’m willing to pay you $50 if you can write and post a review for my business,” the company posted on Craigslist.

A Yelp employee posing as a writer for hire replied: “I’m interested! Is there some specific text you’d like me to post?”

Smith Brothers did not return ABC News’ calls for comment, but the entire exchange is now posted on the company’s Yelp review page.

The computer filter that Yelp uses is so top-secret the company will not talk about it for fear of giving away too many clues to businesses looking to post phony reviews.

Joe Garvey, the owner of a San Francisco scavenger-hunt business who was busted in a Yelp review sting, said he’d asked someone to write a fake review because “it makes it easier for people to find you.”

Garvey told ABC News that he had been dishonest, and that the fake review wasn’t worth buying.

“This is not acceptable behavior,” Sollitto said. “Frankly, it’s not just unethical, but it’s probably illegal. And we think we need to let business owners know you can’t go out there and try to mislead your consumers.”

There are a couple of ways to help spot the real reviews from the fake. Truthful reviews talk about physical space and use specific details like “floor” and “small,” while fake reviewers tend to talk about themselves and their companions more than the actual business. Words like “husband” can be red flags.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio