Are Yelp reviews hurting or helping?

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HARKER HEIGHTS, Tx – A local business that we here at FOX44 help to advertise says review website Yelp is discriminating against them and other local businesses.

Yelp tells FOX44 it’s not them, but their algorithm that determines which reviews get posted or rejected.

Palmeras Tex-Mex in Harker Heights sees their restaurant filled most days throughout the week.

“We’ve gotten amazingly positive feedback,” says owner Mike Halabi.

But Mike says they are missing out on potential sales because of Yelp.

“We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished here and what we’ve developed for this community, and it’s just unfair and unjust,” Halabi says.

According to his social media team, Yelp is hiding 127 five-star recommendations. They were sitting at a two-star rating for months.

“When they hide those reviews, they mark them as ‘not recommended.’ So, it always keeps our score around three stars when, in fact, we only have seven one-star reviews,” says Jeff Cartwright, of the Palmeras social media team.

We asked Yelp why the reviews are not being displayed despite the five-star ratings. In a statement, Yelp told FOX44 News:

“Yelp has been dealing with the issue of misinformation since our inception over a decade ago and we created the recommendation software to help combat this. Reviews that may be solicited, fake, biased or are written by users we just don’t know enough about may be moved to the not recommended section.”

Jeff and Josephine Cartwright say the algorithm is out of touch.

“We get a lot of traffic every day. As you can see, it’s really busy in here and now when we get five stars over and over again. They just all go under not recommended,” Josephine says.

“I’ve called them multiple times and asked them if they would do any type of underwriting, and they just keep telling us that it’s not perfect,” Jeff says.

Both the restaurant owner and the social media team say this is not a ‘Yelp bashing session’, but their low star rating dispute with the website could be affecting other local businesses.

If you are facing the same issue on Yelp regarding your business, they say to use other social media platforms to grow your business.

“What’s really important is that if your business is getting hit with a lot of bad reviews, just reach out to the customer that are leaving you those good reviews when they visit and say, ‘Hey, I just want to let you know, your five-star review that you left us, we appreciate so much. Unfortunately, Yelp is hiding that review.’ I think making the customer aware of what’s going on helps. Also, asking them to give reviews on the social media sites outside of Yelp.” Jeff says.

As of right now, the restaurant sits at 3.5 stars. Yelp says, in part:

“Our priorities are to protect the integrity of the content on our site and level the playing field for hard-working business owners who rightfully earn their great reputation on Yelp.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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