Is Obnoxious Advertising A ‘Firsthand Customer Experience’ You Can Yelp About?

A construction company coated Bryan’s neighborhood with leaflets, and he wasn’t happy about it. He tried to complain right to the company, and only got an answering service. So what’s a dissatisfied consumer to do? He turned to Yelp. Yelp, in turn, took down his review because it violates the site’s Content Guidelines for reviews, as it “doesn’t describe a firsthand customer experience.” Since when is having your neighborhood coated with flyers not a firsthand experience?

He received a message from Yelp that said:

Hi Bryan,

We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed your review of [redacted]. Our Support team has determined that it falls outside our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because it doesn’t describe a firsthand customer experience.

We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp, while keeping in mind our Content Guidelines.

Removed Content:
Difficult to get a hold of.
Left trash on my property.
Find someone better.

Bryan responded:

Can you please explain how their advertising practices are not a first hand customer experience?

They leafletted by neighborhood causing a huge mess and time and cost. Were impossible to reach other than their answering service who assured me they were getting the messages and told me they will continue to leaflet.

That is a first hand experience with how they do business and comport themselves.

He later learned from the company that the leaflets were from a contractor, and the company has supposedly told the company to cool it with the leafleting. But that leaves the larger point: should an experience with a company’s ads or promotions be enough to post an online review of them?