The internet has favors transparent business practices. Yelp, Facebook for Business, and Google Places make it very easy for someone to quickly look up a business and review it. With nearly everyone having a Facebook or Gmail account one need not even register to leave feedback, and all feedback for a business can be found in one centralized location. This increases the adaption & usage rate of these services, and makes it easier for the consumer to understand how a business operates, which is a very GOOD thing. I LIKE that these services exist! They keep us honest and help us learn whether to use others. Short of businesses abusing the system by bribing customers to leave in store reviews, it is accurate. We’re 4.5 stars, and at the top of the list. I write this with no bitter feelings towards Yelp, our ranking, or those who have reviewed us, or most people who review others.

Someone walked into our store to have an iPhone 4 repaired recently. It happens all the time. This woman says “oh, by the way, I’m a yelper. I’m elite.” There are ways to say this where you sound like a regular human, and there are ways to say this where you sound like a prick. I try my best to control myself. Unfortunately, she got the best of me. Her tone of voice changed from happy to menacing, with a vulgar death-stare following her statement forced my true feelings to my face where they become visible in spite of every attempt at controlling my facial muscles. Those around me can’t help but follow my lead in letting their feelings known on their faces as well. People have mentioned they Yelped before which is great, but never in this manner.

Really, so you’re a yelper. And, you’re elite. So what? Who fucking cares? Not any of us. Why mention it with an attitude, a negative slur in your voice, and a death stare? This is useless information, and no one here cares. What now – I’m going to take your part from the heavenly treasure chest in the sky dedicated to the people who are going to publish their online opinion about us while leaving the shit parts for regular, non-elite peons? Is your purpose to have me cower in fear during the entire repair process knowing that my judgment time has come? I imagine so, from the death-stare and attitude during the delivery of this line.

I feel this culture feeds ego-maniacal armchair journalists with minimal writing skills who do all of their writing from a self-centered, omnipotent viewpoint. People who inflate their own self worth not through engaging in productive activity; but through outlets where they can continue the delusion that their uneducated, uninformed, ignorant opinion matters. It encourages people who believe their opinion is more valuable than that of the average human to let out the trash that exists in their mind on a forum where they can do damage to the reputation of others, which is a bad, bad thing. These people believe it is their mission in life to let people know what they think, when their thoughts are best left to themselves. You know, that person at work that always goes on about how “they just tell it like it is”, the universal excuse for immature or tactless behavior as an adult. The person who has an opinion no one cares to hear who exclaims it from the rooftops anyway. I decided to do a little bit more research, and go on to check the reviews of everyone down the list, and I found some interesting musings from our “elite.”

One Yelp Elite reviewer leaves a competitor a bad review for computer cleaning. This person states they “know a lot about computer stuff” and that he proudly yelped at a computer store in the past for suggesting that he install anti-virus software because, to paraphrase, “he doesn’t need all that crap.” This pathetic piece of “journalism” comes to a halt when you see the revision of the review. His machine didn’t work after the repair, which was the reason for the 1 star review. The revision was because he noticed he did become reinfected with malware again, because he had not used “that crap” the store installed for him after cleaning the machine. The initial review goes on for pages and pages and pages pages mentioning what makes the business awful, which makes the fact that he ruined his machine by ignoring their advice very entertaining. He left a 1 star review for a business for not fixing a problem he would not let them fix. Adding insult to injury he says they “made it right” when they contacted him to try and troubleshoot the issue. Now, he “now approves of them”, as if his approval means anything to anyone. You fucked your laptop up by ignoring the very advice of the people you gave a 1 star review of – your “approval” of anything is as worthless as your computer literacy!

Another purchased a ridiculous discount coupon – the kind where you get your iPhone 4 screen replaced for $25-$35. She is told the repair should take 20-30 minutes. It winds up taking 45. She leaves a 1 star review, and goes on about how this miserable business absolutely ruined her day. A real writer may weigh in a number of factors – the 70% price cut, the fact that their mobile device has over 150 screws and hundreds of tiny parts that can break in a fall other than the LCD. Instead this person went for the lowest possible ranking and used similes and analogies for paragraphs on end to explain how awful this shop was for ruining their day. Your ability to provide an evaluation of a business’ service in an unbiased and informative manner should be rewarded with elite status, not verbose ability to whine.

One after the other I read reviews by people who do not have a real opinion of what they are discussing. They are clearly forcing an opinion out of themselves just so they can review something and feed the inflated worth of their own opinion, stacking more Yelp reviews in their hat that their fellow elites can high five ech other over. Another review of a different IT firm states that they are unhappy because they were told they needed another hard drive, because their hard drive was dead. When she inquires about price they say it would be $45 cheaper without data recovery. She goes on to give a 1 star review because “that can be done at home. $45 is a ripoff for something I can do at home.” Really? You know how to do tier 3 data recovery from the comfort of your bedroom? This business is offering to do an incredibly arduous task that can take days upon days of bench time, for 45 dollars, and you are giving them a 1 star review. Do you know anything about the industry you are reviewing? Did you receive a quote from anyone else? Are you remotely qualified to call anyone in an industry you know nothing about a ripoff? No, but you are qualified to be elite on Yelp, and that’s the problem here. Unfortunately, that badge above your name gives you the idea that your opinion manners, which reinforces your motivation to continue spreading it.

This is a crime.

I want people to share their experiences with our business and others. I want people to feel that if they have a great job done, they can let the world know, and that if they are scammed, they can warn people. That is, in my opinion, what these sites are best used for. Concisely explain your experience so that others know what to expect, and so the business you are reviewing can improve and do better next time. Sites like Yelp provide incentives for good behavior with increased business. The problem is when someone writes a paginated article from the standpoint of a connoisseur of a particular business’ services when they are completely ignorant of how they work. It adds insult to injury when one implies they are unbiased or knowledgeable on the topic when they prove in writing to be clueless.