By KEVIN SAWYER
Yelp* has come under fire here and elsewhere for the quality of content contained in its forum. Indeed, it can be infuriating for a business owner to be subject to an anonymous review by an unqualified source, but so long as the tool itself is essentially neutral, it can be difficult to fault the company itself to devising it.
If the story below is to be believed, we can scratch all that.
Marianne Miller, owner and Executive chef at Saga Hill, recently received a visit from Annie D’Souza, Yelp employee and super-elite-platinum reviewer. Annie wrote a (relatively) scathing review of her experience with Marianne’s cooking class, which by Marianne’s account included an ethnic slur (since wisely removed).
After the review posted, Yelp* sales associates allegedly called Marianne, offering to bury the review if she would purchase advertising on the site. They then proceeded to lock the review page, so she cannot even change her business details.
Now, the review itself is hardly the work of, well, it hardly qualifies as a work at all, in my opinion. My favorite excerpts:
“The space is insanely cool, with exposed brick and beams everywhere and interesting furnishings in the reception-type space.”
Bricks. Beams. Everywhere. OMG.
“You can also BYOB for a corkage fee. You’re definitely gonna want that wine.”
Oh, snapz! Only, the rest of the review doesn’t seem to justify the tenor of this quip.
“My friends and I were taking the sauces class, which went over the basics of making a few important French sauces. Each one provides the basis for soups or gravies and whatnot.”
Soups. Gravies. Whatnot. OMGZ!
“Their classes change all the time, so keep an eye on the schedule.”
Great point, Annie! It is always important to check schedules before taking classes. That way, you will know what class you are taking. In the culinary world, it is considered poor form to show up with a whisk and simply demand someone teach you how to cook something. Little known fact.
“It was supposed to be New Zealand mussels with garlic, bacon and beer aioli and that sounded really good. There was never an explanation given and we felt a little short-changed (and hungry… we kinda booked it to the Smack Shack after).”
Of course, Annie did not feel compelled to ask for an explanation. After all, it’s not as though she planning to write some sort of review for one of the most popular social review sites in the world. Oh, wait, that is precisely what she planned. Yeah, she might have gotten some clarification on the mussels issue. And, I’m sorry, is it the responsibility of a cooking school to ensure you are sated at the end of the class? Isn’t it the whole “teach a man to fish” premise?
Booked it. Smack. Shack. OMGZ!!!!
From what I can gather, Yelp* sent one of their bimbots (armed with a Groupon, no less) to write a strident and vacuous review of a cooking class. They then allegedly hustled the owner of said cooking class for dollars to bury the aforementioned, and to instead highlight a more positive review.
I’d ask how Annie D’Souza sleeps at night, but I somehow suspect the answer involves boxed wine and a half-dozen teddy bears. In my opinion, this constitutes extortion.
Unethical. Yelp*. Bad writing. OMGZ!!!!!!!!!!