Local bowling alley questions Yelp’s review process: Your Stories

Local News

CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A local bowling alley is at odds with Yelp after positive reviews ended up in the gutter.

The “not currently recommended” section of the app has raised a lot of questions.

Flamingo Bowl in the Town of Clay is a three out of five-star business on Yelp. The owners think that rating would be higher if all the comments were shown. It has several five-star reviews that can only be found by scrolling to the bottom of their yelp page and clicking the not currently recommended section.

“The review is called ‘not currently recommended’ so people think it is not reliable. That may be the owner posted it or something or a friend. But that is just not true. That is not what happens. People have a good experience but they just haven’t used Yelp before,” said Mary Jo Hamlin, head of marketing for Flamingo Bowl.

Yelp released the following statement to NewsChannel 9:

Yelp’s exists to connect consumers with great local businesses by giving them access to trustworthy and useful information. We want to protect consumers and level the playing field for hard working business owners who rightfully earn their great reputation on Yelp.

To maintain this trust, we use a proprietary automated recommendation software that is engineered to highlight the most trustworthy and useful reviews by continuously evaluating a number of data points. Flamingo Bowl’s not recommended reviews appear to be a mix of both positive and negative reviews. While we can’t say for certain why any specific review is or is not recommended, the recommendation software is engineered to weed out reviews that may be solicited, fake, biased or are written by users we just don’t know enough about. It is a dynamic process in which recommended reviews can change over time as our software learns more information.

We understand that the recommendation software can be confusing or frustrating for some business owners, but we see Flamingo Bowl is already making the most out of their account by responding to their consumers using Yelp’s two-way platform. Our study shows that the right response to a critical review can improve a customer’s impression of their overall experience.

We believe Yelp provides a valuable service for business owners to market themselves based on the reputation they rightfully earn, and we’ve pulled useful tips for them on how to do that effectively in Yelp’s Guide to Success.

The reason millions of people come to Yelp every day is because they trust the content, and because the reviews and ratings are consistently good predictors of their own experiences with local businesses. By taking measures to maintain the integrity and quality of the content on Yelp, we continue to deliver on our promise to provide consumers with valuable information to help them make informed spending decisions.

“It is very unfair,” Hamlin said. “It is a very unfair system. We are really working hard to give everyone, all our customers a great time and then all of a sudden somebody has a positive experience and give us a five-star review and it is never seen.”

Flamingo Bowl does not advertise with Yelp, though Hamlin says they call her quite a bit. “The sales representatives really hound us to advertise,” she said.

“They do not give up. I have had at least four different representatives, for some reason they keep changing, and I keep telling them the same things. I told them if they could find a way to get those five-star reviews back up I would consider it.”

Yelp says reviews in the “not currently recommended section” can move to the main page of a business.

If you have a question for the Your Stories team, give us a call at 315-446-9900 or email us at YourStories@LocalSYR.com.

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

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