Man Reading the Definition of Feedback

Looking for a good, quality product at the right price, like a toaster or tires for your car? Many of us do some research before buying just about anything, and more often than not we find reviews, ratings, and recommendations from other buyers. How much do you rely on consumer reviews?


Yelp is a popular consumer-oriented website offering a wide variety of services. It’s main focus, however, is to help people like you and me find trustworthy businesses and merchants selling the quality goods we’re looking for, from restaurants to barbers to car mechanics.

It does this by letting consumers write and post reviews on its website about the things they buy. Yelp boasts that consumers (they’re called “Yelpsters”) have posted over 9 million reviews about local businesses.

Some of those businesses didn’t like what they were seeing, though. In fact, they were so unhappy they filed a class action lawsuit against Yelp in a California federal court.

The complaint was filed by all sorts of businesses in the San Francisco area, such as an animal hospital, bakery, and a furniture store. They claim many types of misconduct, dishonesty, and fraud, all of which hurt the various businesses. Two of the most noteworthy claims are:

Yelp had a certain practice: After a consumer wrote a negative review or recommendation, Yelp employees called the affected business and offered to sell it an “advertising package.” For a price, the business would be advertised on Yelp and Yelp would remove the negative review or recommendation from the site
Yelp employees actually wrote bad reviews about some businesses, services, and products
The bad reviews for Yelp don’t end there, either. Apparently, there are so many disgruntled businesses that an anti-Yelp, pro-lawsuit website has been created.

Can You Trust the Reviews?

As you’ve researched the product or service you’re looking to buy, you’ve probably come across dozens of consumer reviews. When you read them, you usually get an idea about whether the reviewer is being honest and straightforward. And, for the most part, you can generally trust your gut reaction; many consumers give their honest opinions.

Nonetheless, to protect your wallet and make an informed decision about whether to buy, it’s best to use consumer reviews wisely. Don’t trust them blindly. Here’s what you can do:

The moral: Take reviews with a grain a salt if they seem too negative or too positive:

It’s your money, and today maybe more than ever, you need to do everything you can to make sure you spend it wisely.

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