Anyone remember back in March when that "duo of nightmare customers" who showed up at Michael Scelfo's restaurant in Boston and sat themselves, "insulted and berated" the staff, and then refused to leave while Yelping and making threats to post bad reviews if they didn't get what they wanted?
Such people are spilling over into other types of businesses including my own line of work in the Estate Sale business. In the past we've encountered a woman who purchased several boxes of books at $1.00 a box for a project with the understanding she would transport the boxes herself.
After shopping until the very last minute of our day she threatened our crew with a negative Yelp review if we didn't load all her newly purchased boxes of books and deliver them to her home on the other side of town.
The most common negative review threat and one that still holds is the threat if I don't sell items for 75% of the marked price on the first day of our sale we will be bestowed with a shiny hurtful Yelp review. We declined the bully's request and we got her gift of a horrible review calling us "rude". We're always called "RUDE" because we say "No" and don't give client's items away.
The latest obnoxious reviews were posted as a team. The duo are boyfriend and girlfriend. The pair came to our sale on a Sunday and asked the price of an item. All items are 1/2 price on Sundays. Our cashier priced the item at $5.00. The woman said "Yesterday, the owner told me the price was $3.00". The cashier said "The owner doesn't work on Saturdays, and all pricing is done by me".
If the item was 1/2 price on Sunday the value on Saturday would have been $10.00. No one on the crew would have priced it at $3.00 full price. She bought the item and left without incident. These people want us to believe we got two horrible reviews over $2.00.
I personally belong to a blog site of issues about the local community. My company works with social and community issues. We donate to community groups and help organizations. Before their death my parents worked on civil rights issues. I had a debate with the woman of this couple about an issue of civil rights on this community blog 30 minutes before her bad review was posted.
I'm concerned about Yelp's ability to hold small businesses hostage. Yelp called me several times. First a few years ago I was told if I paid them $105.00 per month they could help keep negative reviews from my site. Now they call and demand $350.00 minimum per month to take a few negative reviews off my Yelp page.
I won't become a victim of the mob. They can do everything to try and kill my business but my family history of nearly 60 years in this business and the people who know who we are wins out.
I'm also worried that if I speak out in my community and voice ANY concern for what is happening to the unfortunate and poor, and I do what I can to help, my business will suffer. Just the other day two men in a white SUV came by my home and threw bricks at my front door and then that evening they stopped outside my home and honked the horn.
The police stopped the SUV and found it connected to the Yelp reviewers. People can't simply do business anymore without the few who come and demand they get special treatment and or they destroy you, your business, harm your family, home, and entire life.