Thursday, July 18, 2013

TripAdvisor, Yelp: the amusing reality

I'm fairly sure I had a connection to TripAdvisor much sooner than Yelp.  They had a map where you could add places where you've been and places where you wanted to go.  You could add it to any social media web site you used.

When I started to write reviews on Yelp, I never thought of putting them on TripAdvisor.  TripAdvisor always seemed a bit snooty and unrealistic, plus Yelp had businesses other than hotels, restaurants, and landmarks.

If I'm on a trip, my car might need service, unexpectedly.  Where do I go?  Who is good?  TripAdvisor won't tell you.  Here, Angie's List might help, but it won't tell you about a motel or restaurant, and you have to pay for a membership.

Now, the thing about any review is whether you can trust the person or not.  Currently, I have 50 reviews on TripAdvisor and 525 reviews on Yelp.  I have zero reviews on Angie's List and probably won't--I didn't join.  They may not advertise but why pay when you could still get false reviews?

I review places I've been and services I've used.  It doesn't mean anything to me to see a review of a place that says "I'm a fan!" or "Good beer!".  Did you have good service?  Did you wait long?  Was the food agreeable?  Was the place dirty or messy?

I got an e-mail from TripAdvisor today saying that a photo was rejected.  It seems that every photo I took at that restaurant was rejected.  It's dark inside so it wouldn't be easy to get, but having 5 exterior photos doesn't help people know how it is inside the place.  At least, they didn't delete my review.  Since I was sick after 1 taco, I figured they'd get rid of that.  How useful are professional, staged photographs?  Is your experience anything like that?

Besides that, they don't like screenshots of WiFi speeds.  When you go to a motel or hotel where they feature an internet connection, wouldn't it be helpful to know the likely speed you're going to get, especially if you need to get work done?

This explains why I like Yelp.  Sure, you have to weed through iffy reviews, but you have to do that elsewhere, also.  No site where a person's opinion can be written is 100% safe from fabrication.

This is my next point.  I wrote an account of my experiences with Isaac's Moving service around Philadelphia, first from Audubon to Bensalem and then, Bensalem to Altamonte Springs, FL.

The move from Audubon went brilliantly with two very caring people.  It was so good that I wanted to have the company move me to Florida over a big name interstate mover.  In the end, Isaac's told me that I had more than I showed the estimator and that's why they needed more money at the destination.  In fact, I'd thrown away most of my furniture and had almost nothing big at that point.  At the time, it was a rather typical tactic of small movers to provide this "extra service" when you really needed your things.  No government (federal or state) had any rules or regulations concerning consumer belongings, so the contract was everything.  Such tactics were shown on national news reports, but of course, no one could do anything about it.  Thankfully, PODS arrived on the scene.

A few weeks ago, someone from Isaac's decided to comment on my review of their services.  Without knowing exactly where or when my move took place, he fabricated a wonderful story about the heroic movers and how they weren't going to receive their money, even after several discounts, because I was indigent and desperate.

I was completely amused that someone would attempt to come up with such a story, when there were so many 1 star reviews.  Besides, when I left Bensalem, I had 3 weeks of unused vacation pay, and my new employer in Florida was paying for my move.  In any case, I didn't respond to the comment because that would have removed it from public view.  I should probably quote it and incorporate it into my review just in case that they decide to delete it.

I find it strange that some people go to great lengths to have people write reviews for them, rather than fix their business.  In this case, attacking my credibility should probably hurt me but with 524 (make that 685 total, as of 2013.12.09) other reviews, I think people can tell who I am and why they can trust what I write.

Update 2013.12.09: This weekend, someone from Isaac's made another comment on my review.  It seems substantially the same.   I find it difficult to believe that they would place so much emphasis on dis-crediting my review.  Surely, if they don't think that reviews on Yelp are worthwhile, why fight them?  Why tell people to look at Angie's List (people can't lie there?) or the Better Business Bureau, if there is nothing to fear, and I'm just a hopeless storyteller?

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