If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know that the grand experiment that is Yelp!, where anyone at all can post a review of any business at all, has done little else but prove two things: 1) That the Fourth Estate, as loathsome as you’ve been trained to regard it, exist(ed/s) for a reason and 2) given the chance, people will bitch about anything, anything at all, on the Internet. But what of the humble users who’ve used the site primarily not to complain, but to give props where they’re due? Consider a recent incident involving our friend Jen. Over the last year or so, Jen has used Yelp (even though we told her not to) to review places she thought were great or under-rated; of 18 reviews she’s written, only one has been unfavorable. And here is where The Dark Mojo Of Yelp enters our story.
Jen’s one unfavorable review was of Northern Liberties’ now-defunct The Toy Shop. In her review posted nearly a year ago, Jen’s big gripe was poor customer service — a frequent retail gripe, to be sure, and one that any savvy retailer would have taken pains to correct, and then address on Yelp! itself. Cut to last week, and Jen, out for an evening stroll with a friend:
I was walking down the street in my neighborhood on Saturday night and I saw a younger couple with greyhounds. I stopped to pet them and we’re making small talk. The man says to me, “Is your name Jen?”
Not recognizing him, I said, “Yes. I’m sorry, have we met?”
He said to me, “No, but you poorly reviewed my toy store on Yelp.”
I was a bit taken off-guard and I said, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t have a good experience there. You didn’t even say hello to me, and I was in your store for at least 10 minutes, and I was the only one in there.”
He turned to his wife and said, “Come on, honey. I’ve had enough hipster bullshit.”
I was floored. And you can see, of all my Yelp reviews, this is the only one-star review I’ve written. It truly was a bad experience.
I went back today to check out the review again and I noticed he and a friend responded to my review more with personal attacks than anything else. But I don’t really care about that. What I do care about is that “Gideon” used my last name in his response to me.
Jen wrote to Yelp, who duly removed the Toy Shop gang’s bullying responses, citing breaches in Yelp’s Terms of Service. We called the number for now-closed Toy Shop for comment, only to find it disconnected. But we had so many questions: Who opens a store in NoLibs and complains about “hipsters?” What business owner sees a review like this and decides to make an enemy when, with just a little sugar, they could make a lifelong customer? And finally, given the store’s closing, what God of Irony do we thank that The Toy Shop picked up its toys and went home? Literally. Ah Yelp, you might be teaching us something after all.