Fast Company

Yelp Grades Cause New York City To Review Restaurant Health Ratings

Yelp has started posting the health department's ratings of restaurants. The hospitality industry says that's just too much information.

Are Yelp reviews a form of civic action?

Yelp, the ratings site with 70 million users, has begun the process of integrating city health department reports into its restaurant reviews. Starting over the next few weeks, when you look up Mission Chinese in San Francisco or New York, Pat's King of Steaks in Philadelphia or Pizzeria Uno in Chicago, you'll also see the results of the health inspection, which in New York City appears as a single letter grade posted in the windows of all restaurants. Google, TripAdvisor, Zagat, and CitySearch are considering doing the same.

The hospitality industry in New York hates the letter grading system, saying it's inconsistent, arbitrary, and inaccurate. They recently sent Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman a letter asking him to hold off posting the ratings until the City Council has a chance to "reform" the system.

Yelp is unlikely to agree. They see publicizing this already quite public information as part of their mission. "Increasing the transparency and accessibility of important public information is another example of how San Francisco, New York and other municipalities are leading the charge in bettering citizens lives by fostering innovation," responded Mr. Stoppelman in a statement.

There's already been a hint of retaliation from NYC business owners, as seen in this letter from the owner of three downtown nightspots, declining to participate in some Yelp member drink specials.

But the controversy could lead New York City to change the rules. The council is planning to respond to business owners' criticism with some new legislation improving the inspection process.

[Image: Flickr user 12th St David]

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2 Comments

  • Rose Powers

    If you just Boycott Yelp it will hurt them the same way they hurt you!

    Do not ask customers to give you reviews.

    Do not promote Yelp in any way.

    If they have no content they will fold, just like many small business have done because of Yelp.

    You will see over time ( if you stop asking people to give you reviews) you will only have negative reviews. Why?? Because Happy normal people dont use Yelp. It is a complaint board and nothing else.

    If Yelp only has the real negative reviews it will go out of business.

    Do not use Yelp. It is your content that keeps them alive.

  • FarmerBobThe1st

    Yelp is seriously flawed. Their use of the "algorithm" that is their "claim to fame" may be good for users (?) but does no justice for retailers in its sorely haphazard ways of filtering the wrong reviews. They need to either make their algorithms act as the company professes it does for equal, equitable and accurate representation or just go away. They are doing more damage than help and although they have 70M users, many of these users have no idea how much they are being misled by inaccurate or wrongly manipulated information. With the many lawsuits cropping up in regard to their business model, algorithms and operational philosophy, it's only a matter of time before "something" gets done or they're gone. I was approached by a Yelp sales rep selling a $300 a month package, that really didn't do much of anything, that "would safe my life". When during a 2.5 hour conversation I brought up the gross inaccuracies of their algorithm and how it severely skews the results he got quiet, ended the call and I have never heard from him again. Was it something that I said or is that you people are just purely ignorantly evil?