Yelp can be a bit of a double-edged sword for small business owners and users alike. The site has become a go-to source for consumer reviews, but the authenticity of those reviews are sketchy at best. Take, for example, the case of Joe McInerney who runs Buyer's Advantage, a real estate company in Chicago. McInerney was pretty alarmed when he noticed that one of his two Yelp reviews carried just a one-star rating. Jen W's August 23 review (which has since been deleted) said that Joe was nice, but that the places he showed here were sub-par. "One of the units was a garden unit with large, exposed pipes on the ceiling throughout the unit. As I walked through the unit I literally had to duck my head several times to avoid hitting the pipes on the ceiling."
McInerney (who also happens to be an attorney) didn't challenge that account, exactly, but he did wonder why the reviewer was dredging up ancient history. "I couldn't believe it and could barely remember the client as I worked with her briefly over 5 years ago," he explains on his blog, so he shot the reviewer an email and did a bit of web sleuthing. Noticing that the same reviewer had given a glowing review to a competing broker, The Home Buyer Agents, he decided to take a look at property records to see where she ended up buying, and here's what he found:
"Going back through the public records I noticed that a woman with my former client's name was recently added to the deed of a condo with Jeffrey Kroop. Since this is often something that is done after a marriage when one spouse is added to the deed of a property owned by the other party prior to marriage, I went to my friend Google. From my research, it appears that my former client married her real estate broker, Mr. Jeffry Kroop, Broker of The Home Buyer Agents and is now giving his competitor (me!) bad reviews."That is pretty bad. Jen W. has since removed the review from Yelp. A parting shot from McInerney:"I mean, who marries their real estate broker! What makes it stranger is that my previous client works for the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, advising clients on how to successfully use social media. What would her clients say if they knew that this is how she personally uses social media to trash her husband's competitor?" Seriously, who does marry their real estate broker? Got a story about real-estate related social media abuse in Chicago? The Curbed tipline is always open. · So, an odd thing happened today... [Buyer's Advantage]