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Yelp Reviews Go Through Filter Some Claim Isn't Fair

FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4)- Yelp is the market leader where consumer opinion rules. In some cases it can make or break a business reputation.

One small business owner claims the rating system isn't fair and that only the negative reviews show up with the positive reviews nearly hidden.

4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks found out that Yelp defends its rating system despite some criticism.

Amy's Closet in Firestone sells clothing on a consignment basis. The small business, owned by Amy Boddecker, has been open only nine months.

"People seem to be happy. Happy that I am here, happy with the quality, happy that there is something to do in Firestone," said Boddecker.

Boddecker believes some of the reviews published on Yelp aren't fair, but that's not her main concern. It's the fact that the positive reviews aren't factored into the final rating, which is ranked as one star out of five.

Two negative reviews are posted, one reading "the most unfriendly place" the other, "not very kid friendly."

"It's not fair. It's just not right," said Boddecker.

Boddecker points out the 31 filtered reviews not included in her overall rating. Those appear in a light gray print towards the bottom of the page.

Once clicked, it reveals positive five-star reviews calling Amy's Closet the "greatest" and "perfect" and how "Amy is always friendly, cheerful."

Yelp said there is a review filter that considers a wide range of factors for every review. Yelp won't confirm how the filter works because people would, "game the system."

Yelp does discourage business owners from soliciting reviews.

"We just wrote on Facebook, 'Ouch, Yelp has given us two bad reviews. What do you ladies feel about that?'" said Boddecker.

Metro State University Marketing Professor Darrin Duber-Smith said despite the filter, the overall rating doesn't seem right.

"The average should be very, very high so something is clearly very, very wrong there," said Duber-Smith.

He believes the consumer should not put a lot of weight on online, anonymous reviews.

"When someone has a good experience, they'll tell eight people about it. When someone has a negative experience, they'll tell an average of 64 people. So it's a factor of eight," said Duber-Smith.

Boddecker believes the negative reviews will impact her business.

"It's going to hurt my business," said Boddecker.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Colorado Attorney General's Office said if a consumer or business feels wronged they can file a complaint. If there is a pattern of complaints it will get their attention.


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