It’s long been common knowledge that Yelp, the online business review site practices a not-so-subtle form of extortion by “filtering” reviews – both positive and negative—in exchange for money. Businesses don’t have to sign up for this unsolicited “service” (indeed, reviews can come from anyone for any reason,) but if owners don’t cough up Yelp’s $45/month advertising fees, well, It would be a real shame if your fine business should, god forbid, start gettin’ negative reviews—if youse know what I mean….
Many choose to pay, and the breezy, happy, 4-5 star write-ups (often the work of owners and their confederates—or Yelp’s paid hacks,) are moved to the top of the page. Others opt out and find a sudden spate of 1-2 star ratings where those glowing reviews used to be, and the positive ones now relegated to the “not recommended” review link at the bottom of the page—or mysteriously “disappeared” altogether. Accordingly, I always make a point of reading the “unrecommended” reviews first- if only for the subtext and the snark.
Anyway, Yelp recently pulled this shit questionable practice on a popular-but-militantly-Italian San Francisco restaurant owner—who responded to their blackmail with a flash of advertising genius. Offering 25% off a pizza to anyone posting a one star review to Yelp, Botto Bistro is now vying to be rated the most-hated restaurant in San Francisco—and garnering national attention and a whole new fan-base in the process.
Highlighting some of the negative reviews, they put this sign in their window and watched the Yelp reviews come piling in—with hilarious results:
Here’s a small sampling:
-They charge you for food , it is unacceptable, what more can i say. Very disappointed with their pricing policy .
-I ordered meatballs, and they were served upside down.
– “We don’t have ice” ”We don’t have butter” You know what else they failed to add to that list? Walked in today only to find that they don’t carry the iPhone 6 Plus. WTF
-This place turned me into a newt.
-I’ve been locked in their basement for a month making gnocchi out of drywall and wallpaper paste. All of this because I asked for a refill on water WITH lemon… don’t do that. Or actually, do. I could use the company.
-Fantastic shitty service! Excellent shitty food! Reasonable shitty prices!
-I ordered two 16oz containers of uranium-238 from this place 4.5 billion years ago, when my order was FINALLY delivered yesterday both containers were only half full. WTF?!?!?
-Say what??? Your angel hair pasta is not really made out of angels?
-There’s “funghi” on the pizza and no FREEDOM FRIES on the menu.
-I thought you couldnt possibly mess up a ham and mushroom so I order the tirolese. When I took it home my kids cried.
-The hostess was like, NO YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CATS BIRTHDAY HERE. And I was like, HE’S MORE HUMAN THEN YOU’LL EVER BE!
-It looked like my pizza had been sitting on top of a car parked under a family of birds all day.
-There were zombie babies crawling on the floor and one bit my foot
-I ordered the veal, after having it recommended to me as “the BEST in the city.” Then, some asshat came out of the men’s room and SHOT me. Never again!
-Best food I’ve ever had. This restaurant deserves a Michelin star. Wonderful ambiance, great service and amazing experience. Loved it!! (One star)
It gets better. With breath-taking audacity, Yelp then contacted the restaurant to threaten them with “suspension of account” (which they never asked for in the first place) and vague threats of legal action—to which they responded in a similar cheeky manner:
Hi Michele, I’m contacting you from the Yelp User Support Team because we’ve received complaints from the community that you may be offering incentives in exchange for reviews.
To be clear, this violates our Terms of Service (http://www.yelp.com/static?p=tos&country=US), and reviews written under such circumstances violate Yelp’s Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines). We also often find from user feedback that such practices do more harm than good, as the practice creates distrust amongst customers and users who now eye all reviews on a listing with suspicion.
If you are offering incentives in exchange for reviews, we ask that you immediately discontinue such activity. If we learn that this type of behavior has continued, we may take action on your Business Account which could include suspending access to your listing. It may also result in a Consumer Alert being placed on your listing: http://officialblog.yelp.com/2012/10/consumer-alerts-because-you-might-like-to-know.html
Regards, Marvin Yelp Support San Francisco, California
Here’s their response:
I’m contacting you from the Botto User Support Team because we’ve received complaints from the community that you may be removing reviews in exchange of vague explanations to loyal customers.
To be clear, this violates our Terms of Service (http://www.bottobistro.com/FAQ.html), and reviews removed under such circumstances violate Botto’s Content Guidelines (http://www.bottobistro.com/FAQ.html). We also often find from loyal customers feedback that such practices do more harm than good, as the practice creates distrust amongst loyal customers and users who now eye your site with suspicion.
If you are offering this explanations in exchange of removed reviews, we ask that you immediately discontinue such activity. If we learn that this type of behavior has continued, we may take action on our Business Account which could include suspending all activity to our listing. It may also result on adding a Yelp Customer Alert page on our website and in our Newsletters.
Botto User Support Team
Moral: Never fuck with a Sicilian restaurant owner when pizza is on the line.
Fresh from that small delight, I came upon this gem from old friend Dana Rohrabacher (R- CA.,) Vice Chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Let that sink in for a moment…. He’s Vice Chair of the Science and Technology Committee of the United States House of Representatives.
A little background: This week being International Climate Awareness Week (though you’d scarcely know it from the scant media coverage) tens of millions of people worldwide took to the streets on behalf of the UN Climate Summit underway in NYC. To coincide with this effort, the US House of Representatives has been holding hearings on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution—which needless to say, the House Republicans don’t cotten to.
“Boisterous novelty act,” Dana is a good soul, and on the infrequent occasions when our politics align, a very good man to have on one’s side. He’s a fine friend and frequently a very funny fellow, but while earnest, he’s not always the sharpest tack, and he’s paid to represent his constituents (literally)—a responsibility he takes very seriously.
Alas for most of us, those constituents are comprised of the BSW Donors who have kept him in office for 12 terms, namely, the various 0.001% families and defense entities of coastal Southern California who have vested interests in Big Oil, Big Development, Big Water, Big Aerospace. These are donors who prefer to ignore the findings of people who actually study climate change in favor of the public opinion polls they’ve personally commissioned. So it’s not surprising that Dana is a very vocal –and increasingly buffoonish– shill for the Anthropogenic Climate Change Denial lobby.
Please watch and enjoy as Dana’s simplistic steamrolling is elegantly countered by White House Science Advisor, John Holdren –an actual scientist, using actual facts.
“Overwhelming scientific consensus? We don’t need no stinking overwhelming scientific consensus!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJOpDQ-PB-8
Here’s Dr. Holdren again, this time patiently explaining to Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) why “global wobbling” isn’t included in climate modeling and why “If the ice cube melts in the glass, it doesn’t overflow it….” . Hint: See what happens to the water level when you start throwing great chunks of glacial ice into the glass, Lar.
And as a special bonus, Holdren responds to drivel from Larry Buschon (R-IN) who doesn’t believe in climatologists because “That’s what they do for a living…” Yes. He really says that.
In any case, it was refreshing to see a couple of folks fighting back with humor and insight (instead of the usual bullying and bombast) for a change. Let us all take inspiration as we cut our passive/aggressive swath through the exigencies of life’s little annoyances. At least it will be worth a few yucks– and who can’t use a few yucks in These Troubled Times®?
That is all.