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Jesse’s Story of the Day

Edmonds restaurant owner upset over Yelp review system

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A North Sound restaurant owner is upset over Yelp’s review system.

Bao Truong always gets his grill on at his restaurant in Edmonds called Fat Pig BBQ.

“It’s my passion,” Bao Truong said. “It’s something I like to do at home, barbecuing for my friends and my family.”

Truong came to this country from Vietnam in 1982 and became an engineer.  Now, Truong has the blueprints to the best ribs in town.

“I stopped doing that and started doing this because it’s something that makes me happy, to cook and to serve good food to people,” Truong explained.

Customers give Bao high marks with a Yelp rating above four stars.

“We have a lot of people who use online reviews before they come here, so it’s very important to us,” Truong said.

But Truong said he has a problem with Yelp’s system leaving out many of his reviews.

“I think I’d be doing a lot better… if yelp wasn’t doing what they are doing to me right now,” Truong explained.

Fat Pig BBQ’s Yelp page shows 21 reviews, but it has more than 90 that Yelp said are not currently recommended.  Those reviews are not placed in the average.

“It just seems a little bit strange that the reviews started disappearing after they called me for advertising and {I} turned {them} down,” Truong said.

Yelp said Truong’s claim of pay for play absolutely untrue.  The company said it uses an automated recommendation software to highlight the most useful and reliable reviews to the 100 million people who use the site each month.

Yelp said it uses 75% of the reviews that are submitted.  Fat Pig BBQ just has 23%.

“Some of the customers that left a review and say they left a very good review and they took time to do that, yet their reviews were removed so they’re upset as well,” Truong said.

They weren’t removed, but rather not recommended.

Then there’s this: Reviewer Vivian S. had her review recommended at one BBQ restaurant, but it wasn’t at Fat Pig.

Same thing for Kayla W: recommended at one restaurant and not accepted for Truong’s barbecue joint.

In a statement Yelp said its recommendation software is engineered to weed out possible fakes, biased reviews, unhelpful rants or raves and reviews written by less active users.

All Truong wants is Yelp to have a big fat serving of fairness. Let the scores in and let the public taste the truth.

Full statement from Yelp:

Yelp aims to highlight useful, relevant content to help the 100 million people who come to our site every month find great local businesses. We use a multi-faceted approach to protecting the quality of content on Yelp and there are a few reasons that a review contributed to Yelp may no longer appear in the recommended section:

  1. Our community of users contributes quality content and we encourage consumers and businesses to flag content that might violate our Terms of Service or Content Guidelines.
  2. Our User Support team reviews content for violations of our Terms of Service and determines if they will remove it from the site. This includes hate speech and reviews that are not from a firsthand experience.
  3. Yelp has an automated recommendation software in place which is engineered to highlight the most useful and reliable reviews to consumers who visit the site. Reviews that are not currently recommended are still visible, but live on a separate page, and do not factor into a business’ overall star rating. Our stance is quality over quantity and we currently recommend about 75% of the reviews that are submitted. This means about one in four reviews submitted to Yelp are not recommended to consumers. The recommendation software is engineered to weed out:
    • Possible fakes (several reviews generated from the same IP address)
    • Biased reviews (written by a competitor, a disgruntled employee, or solicited by a business owner from friends, family members or favorite customers)
    • Unhelpful rants or raves
    • Reviews written by less active users, which can be real reviews based on real experiences, but we don’t know enough about the user to recommend their opinion to our community
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