The Problem with Yelp

If you're traveling, or even local, and you're seeking the best coffee houses in a certain neighborhood, you may use Yelp or Trip Advisor to see what others prefer for that listing.  So you type in 'coffee' for let's say my neighborhood in Seattle, 'Ballard'.  Then 47 listings come up.  You begin your search.  The first one to come up is Peet's, which interestingly isn't in Ballard.  Then you notice Peet's listing is in a slightly off colored box and in the upper right corner is 'Yelp Ad'.  The listings below Peet's I've barely heard of. Then the more commonly known coffee houses are listed mid page or below.

If you scroll to the bottom of each listing you'll see in grey letters, "14 other reviews that are not currently recommended"  What's this?  Click on it and you'll notice more reviews no different than those in the main listings.

My business, Salmon Bay Paddle, has 14 'unrecommeded reviews'.  I inquired to Yelp, they said they have a bot that runs through the system looking for untruthful reviews, or those your friends posted.  Problem is, all my 14 filtered reviews are from clients who chose to post on their own without me asking them to. There is one bad one in there, he was nuts anyway.  The only problem with having great lessons and customer service is that to some it may sound too good?  Another shop has mostly bad reviews and their few good ones are too good which interestingly didn't get filtered.

In October a rep from Yelp called me repeatedly to get me to pay for advertising, or rather better ranking for my listing like the Peet's listing/ad.  She didn't answer about the filtered reviews, but I wonder if they release those as well? Anyone know? I turned down the offer since it's impossible to secure regular business in Seattle in winter and Spring despite even the best reviews.  

This summer I had a student who was in Seattle from Alberta, Canada. She mentioned she knew how to read Yelp reviews, and in doing so knew to look for and read the 'not currently recommended' reviews.  Whew!  That's a relief that some travelers are aware of the problem.