Yelp: Telling Half the Story Most of the Time

By
Property Manager with HomePointe Property Management, CRMC 00691121

Yelp is at the top of the list of many companies’ reasons to hate the Internet.  Yelp has given an electronic soap box to everyone that feels they have been slighted or wounded in any way.  It does not matter if the complaint is valid or unrealistic.  If you type it, Yelp will print it.

 

The property management industry is one that has a huge problem where Yelp is concerned.  The reasons that property managers hate Yelp include the following:

 

1.       Yelp tends to favor small companies over large ones.  Think about it.  If I manage 100 homes and have about one complaint per year per 100, I will probably have one bad review on Yelp.  If I am lucky,  I will have none.   If I manage 2000 homes, and have the same complaint ratio, I will have 20 negative reviews per year (1% of 2000).  Since Yelp does not time out reviews, you might see a large company with a 1% complaint ratio with 80 negative reviews on Yelp and think twice about using them.  But that would not be fair as the large company has the same complaint ratio as the small one!

2.      Complainers don’t tell the truth.  We research the complaints we get and are amazed at the exaggerated claims of poor service.  Yelp tends not to remove negative complaints so these can pile up and make a good company look bad.  It can be hard to refute claims of “bad customer service” without sounding like you are making excuses. 

3.      Happy people tend to use a business for what they provide and move on with their lives.  They tend not to “Yelp”.  Unhappy people, who do not get what they want, tend to look for ways to damage the business that denied them.  In our business, we deny a large number of people who have bad credit, bad rental references, or lack of sufficient income to afford a rental.  No one likes to be denied, so they blame everyone but themselves.  The easiest thing to do is to “Yelp”. 

4.      In Property Management the messenger gets the bad reviews.  Landlords hire property managers because they are good at sniffing out problem applicants, complaining tenants, and because they are business-like.  Landlords do not hire pushovers.  As stated in 1 and 3 above, the applicant problem tends to mushroom in a large company.  Our firm rents to 60 people each and every month.  We turn down a bit more than 100 each month.  So we automatically have a new 100 people that don’t like us each month.  On top of that, we act as the gatekeepers on maintenance issues.  If a tenant is calling repeatedly for repairs, we have to investigate and bill them for issues they cause.  We also have to deny some requests if the owner does not want to do the requested repair, assuming it is not a habitability or contractual issue.  That policy, of figuring out who pays and if we are even going to do the repair, does not make us as likeable with tenants.  Therefore, we get Yelped for doing our job.  We have also gotten Yelped by Landlords that thought we did too many repairs.

5.      Fake reviews abound on the Internet, including in Yelp.  It is known that competitors Yelp fake reviews about their competition.  It is impossible to know who to trust in this as everyone involved is anonymous.    

6.      Yelp is very suspect as a business model and is classified as a shakedown artist by many.  Our firm has been contacted by Yelp representatives promising, for a monthly fee, to get bad reviews removed and help promote our business.  This is basically what criminals do.  They promise your building will not burn down if you pay them a fee.  Yelp has also been known to remove good reviews.  They do this because they claim that those reviewers are not “qualified”.  How does one get qualified?  A qualified reviewer is one who Yelps a lot.  Well adjusted,  realistic people, those who tend not to Yelp much, are not much help to you in getting the Yelp reviews balanced in your favor.  Yelp sees to that. 

 

In the end, it may be futile to try and win this battle.  The best a property manager can do is reply to as many reviews as they can.  Yelp does want your money, so you could also try paying them to help you.  I have not gone that route as I keep hoping they will go out of business.  Here are some websites and blogs on the subject:

 

http://guardianlv.com/2013/10/yelping-about-yelp/

 

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/02/27/2-investigators-businesses-yelping-about-review-driven-web-site/

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/nation/yelping-about-yelp/2204824

 

Here is a reply we are beginning to put on the Yelps we get, after we address the Yelp issue at hand:

 

 

Thank you for posting your complaint on Yelp.  We do appreciate the fact that you used our service.  Please know that although we try to please all of the people we come in contact with, we do not satisfy everyone.  We manage approximately 2300 homes in the Sacramento area.  We rent to about 60 families a month, process over 1,000 work orders, and we handle the final security deposit dispositions for another 60 people per month.  Our owner clients have charged us with making sure we only put qualified people in their homes, only repair what needs to be fixed, charge any person who causes damage, and collect all rents, or evict the family if they cannot pay or move.  While this seems daunting, we have been handling our business successfully since 1982.   We are 50 associates strong and have won multiple awards for the charity work we have been able to do, helping to raise over a quarter million dollars locally and around the country!  Please know that we will always do our best to serve all of our Owners, Residents, and Vendors, the very people we come into contact with every day.  Give us another try and we will work hard to win back your business. 

Posted by

Robert A. Machado, CPM, MPM

HomePointe Property Management

Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, and Placer Counties

We manage residential and commercial property.

916-429-1205 x 105

rmachado@HomePointe.com

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Ambassador
1,242,504
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

Good Evening, Robert. I am not a huge fan of YELP either. Love this post!

Feb 02, 2015 07:02 AM #1
Rainmaker
822,629
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Robert - Unfortunately I think you are right when you say it is futile to try and win this battle. You are not going to please everyone no matter what, and unfortunately now they have a site to voice their concerns/complaints.

Feb 02, 2015 09:35 AM #2
Rainmaker
690,256
Michael Dagner
Brokers Guild Classic - Denver, CO
Your Denver Homes Realty Expert

Hi Robert, honest reviews would be very nice, but you just can't trust that they're reliable.

Feb 02, 2015 01:04 PM #3
Rainer
417,729
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

There seem to be some customers with Yelp rage that complain loudly about perceived infractions. They are not honest and exaggerate their stories.  No sworn statements made under oath are required.  They do not attempt to provide constructive criticism, only spewing anger and revenge.  I don't see the point in trying to communicate rationally with that type of person.  It reminds me of the crazy drivers with road rage.

It would be nice if every customer that had a positive experience would post an honest, positive review.  But, most people are busy and just move on.  Glowing, positive reviews and testimonials look phony to me and I don't trust them. 

I always ask new customers where they heard about my business.  Most are from Google search, a referral, or a repeat customer.  No one ever says they found me on Yelp.  There are so many complaints about Yelp, I think they have harmed their own reputation.

Apr 26, 2015 08:50 AM #4
Rainmaker
183,774
Debi McKamie
McKamie Real Estate Services, LLC - Meridian, TX
Realtor®/Property Manager

Very good article and so true when tenants or applicants don't get what they want, when they want it.

Jun 13, 2015 11:48 PM #5
Rainer
417,729
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

I did some research on the complaints against Yelp and found that there is a documentary film in production about their questionable business practices.  More info at Billion Dollar Bully. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1299637435/billion-dollar-bully

Jun 14, 2015 01:07 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,506,627
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I use Yelp mostly for restaurants and beauty vendors. But I do not read, I look at pictures mostly:) 

Feb 19, 2017 01:35 AM #7
Anonymous
sandra

Perhaps if you were a customer it would be different. People who are out of touch and arrogant usually feel that way about complaints, instead of seeing it as an opportunity for service recovery and growth. It indicates a very limited performance mindset.

Jun 27, 2018 09:32 PM #8
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Robert Machado

CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management
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