Denny’s Daily Zinger: Creeps Who Hide Under Digital Rocks

After declining to buy a paid Yelp ad, Joe Hadeed's carpet cleaning business started getting anonymous one-star reviews.

I despise receiving emails with the return address: or
Are the people who hide ashamed of something?

The Yelp Conundrum
The Wall Street Journal recently had a story about Joe Hadeed. He runs a carpet cleaning business in Virginia. Joe said “no thank you” to a Yelp rep who wanted to sell him advertising. Whereupon, Joe suddenly got nasty reviews of his service after many positive ones. The reviewers were anonymous—maybe customers, more likely not. From the story:

Following the rash of negative Yelp reviews, business sank 30 percent in 2012, Mr. Hadeed says. Last year, Hadeed cleaned just 20,000 carpets, down from 29,000 in 2011. Revenue fell to $9.5 million from $12 million in 2011. Mr. Hadeed said the business has let 80 workers go and sold six trucks, reducing its fleet to 54.

The Federal Trade Commission has received more than 2,046 complaints filed about Yelp from 2008 through March 4, according to data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, following a Freedom of Information Act request. Yelp shares fell 5.7 percent in Wednesday trading, after the tally was posted on

Takeaways to Consider

  • Yelp is nuts to allow masked strangers to endanger the website.
  • This seeming extortion hurts the reputation and value of Yelp.
  • Readers of my columns are invited to comment. Some sign off with fictitious handles that cannot be traced. All are published, with the exception of libel, porn, etc.
  • I prefer real people whom I can write and thank for commenting.

Denny Hatch’s new book is Write Everything Right!
“Your new book is good too! I’m a third of the way through and have already dog-eared numerous pages in both glee and frustration.” —Liz Kislik
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Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • Aaron Metzger

    I’m sure I won’t be alone in commenting to say Yelp has conducted themselves rather poorly over the years. In my experience with Yelp, they have not been considerate or appropriate with review filtering, content management, or transparency for the business community. I fully support the ability for customers to place reviews, as I do for companies regularly. However, I expect the businesses to be able to use my review to enhance their practices in the event my experience has been less than optimal. This would take much more information than "MADREVIEWERGUY059 Says: This business is a sham."

    If a community wants their reviews to actually mean something, a business must be able to resolve issues. This is good for customers and good for business. Which makes it good for Yelp.