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Sunday, May 17, 2015
Yelp Shenanigans: Is Management, or the Brokers Who Work for It, Paying for Good Reviews?
I know a few things about Yelp, and so I smell a rat. Big time.
For those who don't know, Yelp is a place where members can review restaurants, bookstores, services--and apartment complexes like Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. The Yelp page for ST/PCV has traditionally shown an overwhelming amount of negative reviews, so much so that it must be an embarrassment for CWCapital and CompassRock. As many people check Yelp, these negative reviews are sure to dampen the interest of prospective renters.
A few months ago, banners around Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper invited residents to go on Yelp, in the hope that the page would get positive reviews. Well, that didn't happen.
So now a different tactic is being used. If you check recent reviews, you will see that a number of them are four or five star reviews, something that's never happened in a brief span of time--like two days (May 16-May 17)! Also check where some of these reviews are coming from: Astoria, Brooklyn!!!
Given my knowledge of the Yelp world, I can figure out what is probably happening.
While it may be that individuals related to management or management itself is posting these, I suspect the use of a special service (several like these exist) that use Yelpers on their payroll to post positive reviews for companies that are struggling with negative ones. I work for a company that was once contacted by one of these companies, and they promise to up your positives without the posts being bounced by Yelp.
Reviews such as:
"Stuy Town is a great place to visit. I have many friends who live there and I have heard nothing but positive reviews. The park is always clean and the apartments are updated and spacious. Definitely a great bang for the buck!!"
"Absolutely love it here! Spacious renovated apartments. Clean, green and quite oasis in the heart of east village. Great fast maintenances service."
"Love the community vibe! PCVST is a clean, well kept community where people of all ages can live together peacefully and happily. I'd stay here forever if I could!"
"It's a great community here. Wish it was a bit cheaper, but I guess you pay for the extras that you get. The grounds are kept very clean and there are a lot of events each month including movies, fitness classes and a farmers market. If I had kids, this would be these place to live- a lot of cute playgrounds and a lot of kids live here."
... are give-aways that the reviewers are not that familiar with the complex or are purposefully misleading. (ALL were posted on the same day, too!)
Again, the source of these outrageously positive reviews does not have to be management itself. It could be the brokers. But I believe that there is a concerted push by someone or some entity to start getting positive reviews onto Yelp to balance out the negative ones and ultimately overwhelm them. (The only way you can comment on these ridiculous reviews is to click on "funny" under the review.)
One more thing about Yelp. As you may notice there is a link to post photos on the upper right side. While the vast majority of photos are from management, several have gotten through from tenants. It's obvious which ones these are. So you are always welcome to post photos there, if your reviews do not make it.