Should Yelp Remove Reviews By Non Customers?

Lehigh Pub, the restaurant in Pennsylvania that had two patrons arrested for not tipping, was blasted on Yelp in the past 24 hours or so by angry readers. Many of them weren’t customers, but heard about the arrests in the news and came to vote down the pub. As of this morning, it had an average of one star out of five.

Now that average is back up to two stars and the number of reviews is down to 38, from a high of over 300 earlier today. That’s because Yelp has removed most of the ones posted by non-customers who came just to complain about the tipping story. They’ve also removed most of the photos people added, which by and large were just photos of police cars or of people being beaten and/or arrested by police. I think a couple of shots were also of poop.

Some readers might cry foul at Yelp’s deletion policy, and in fact a lot of reviewers are re-posting their original complaints but adding Yelp to the list of offenders. (There’s already another police brutality photo in the mix.) But the site’s ratings are supposed to be built around actual customer experiences, not second-hand reports; Yelp says this explicitly in their FAQ.

That means that Yelp isn’t really a good source if you want to find out about a company’s business practices, or if you want an overview of press—good or bad—that’s been written about a place. Fortunately for future patrons, it’s doubtful that there won’t be any mention of the incident once local diners have had their say. They all know about the arrests, too.

In the meantime, it looks like Yelp will have to keep monitoring the page for second-hand reviews. Or maybe they could follow Wikipedia’s model and just lock it down until everyone cools off.

“Lehigh Pub” [Yelp] (Thanks to Michael!)

“College Students Arrested For Refusing To Pay Tip”
(Photo: serk1)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.