Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Loudmouth Rant : A Gripe About Yelp

Hey all! Stephanie Shar here, from The Loudmouth Lifestyle. I normally post life advice, blogging tips and outfit posts. But today, I'm feeling like a rant. And what better place to post it than at a blog called The Honest Badger?

I've always admired Fenn's blunt personality, and lately I've been trying to speak my mind a little bit more. In small doses, it can be very healthy. It ain't good to keep all your feelings bottled up inside. Life isn't all sunshine and lollipops.

However, I recently posted a review on a site that I thought would appreciate honesty -- good ol' Yelp -- and they took it down. Huh? I'll give you all the details.

It all started when my boyfriend Brandon and I went down to Laguna Beach to celebrate our one-year anniversary and our pregnancy (yeah, we moved fast, it happens). We got there and were hungry, so we went to the first place we saw that looked decent, Mozambique. It had a cool rooftop bar, and even though I couldn't drink, B is all about happy hours. We strolled on up and settled in for some grub.

Well, it ended up being the worst service experience of my life. I'll let my original review do the talking (luckily, Yelp HQ sent me a copy of it when they notified me of its deletion):

Wow, I have so much to say but don't want to bore you guys, so here it is in a nutshell.

+Rooftop bar.
+Tasty food.

-Food was SUPER overpriced, even for happy hour. Portions were very small. Not worth it for the taste.
-Service was TERRIBLE. The worst I've ever received. Our waitress, a blonde named "Ciara" was literally on drugs. She stumbled, stuttered, twitched and got confused at the simplest questions. She took forever to take our drink order, forever again to take our food order, forever to get it to us and forever to get us our check. She honestly seemed to forget we were even there and we had to constantly flag her down.
-Our tab was $40 for two people, one of us who wasn't even drinking, and again this was during happy hour.
-We were there for like 4 hours when we could've only been there for 2.
-When we complained we weren't offered any compensation or an apology.

SKIP THIS PLACE, there are plenty of better, CHEAPER restaurants in Laguna and a lot more rooftop bars!

Even after all of that, I ended up feeling nice and giving them two stars, even though it probably only deserved one. Now, in my opinion, my review was straightforward and perhaps even harsh, but not mean. I didn't say anything about the waitress that wasn't true, and I didn't make fun of her; I was simply making observations.

However, after a couple weeks, I received an email from Yelp that said this:

Hi Samantha,

We're writing to let you know that we've removed your review of Mozambique Steakhouse. Our Support team has determined that it falls outside our Content Guidelines because it contains personal attacks.

We understand you may have had an exceptionally bad experience. While we welcome our reviewers to share their experiences and to be as descriptive as possible in those accounts, we ask that they avoid taking their grievances to a personal level.

Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

I thought this was odd for a variety of reasons. First, um, my name isn't Samantha. It clearly states "Stephanie S" on the website. Secondly, I did not feel that I was "attacking" her. I did not say "fuck this bitch, let's all stalk and kill her!" I was simply stating facts about her service alone. I thought it would be helpful for guests and management alike to know that this woman was not fit to be in a working environment. Third, as you can see from my profile, I have written a variety of reviews ranging from 1-5 stars and I always use names. In fact, in my negative review for Pep Boys, the owner actually responded and asked how he could make it up to me!

I really couldn't find anything "personal" about my review except for her name, but as I said, I've used names before, and this is what the guidelines say: Don't publicize other people's private information. Please don't post close-up photos of other people without their permission, and please don't post other people's full names unless you're referring to service providers who are commonly identified by their full names. Colorful language and imagery is fine, but there's no need for threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, and other displays of bigotry. I did not use her full name or take a picture of her, and I did not believe I was harassing her.

I couldn't see how my review went against any of the guidelines, so I responded to the email asking for clarification. I never received a response. I still wanted to get my point across, so I edited my original review (taking out names and a few other details about the waitress) and re-posted it.

Within hours, I received the following email from Yelp HQ:

Hi Stephanie,

We are writing to let you know we are removing your reposted review of Mozambique Steakhouse as it was previously removed for violating our Content Guidelines.

Please be aware that reposting content to this business listing may result in closure of your account, and that the content you post will be subject to removal without notification.

Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

At least they got my name right this time, but... wtf?

I'm using Foursquare from now on. Deuces.

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