Reading Comprehension Regarding Yelp

Uh, where did I say “shut down Yelp?” What has been described is something that passes for “okay these days, especially in the tech industry, with the drift in knowledge and practice in personnel, management and hard-won labor law practices. The other side of that is that a business that is comfortable with this type of turnover (apparently approaching 100%) offering only 3 days of training to people who are generating 10x their pay in revenue to the company — there’s black or red flags all around. Black or red flags that even if the employee is “wrong” in the dispute, that a company that is founded on individuals slagging on businesses through “ratings” should itself, wonder if its own company will not also get written about on the internet.

The very defense Yelp has about why its system is great — customers get a picture of the quality of a business through reviews and ratings on the internet — means the company should be comfortable with its own nature as an employer being reviewed.

That said, on the face of it, offering perks in the form of parties, giveaways and gifts to people who create content “Elite Yelpers” — instead of compensation of any kind automatically — means those will be people who can afford to spend a lot of time and money going out to eat, visiting different clubs, etc. This automatically confers bias, making their reviews likely less “beneficial” to the average customer than other reviews by “average” or “non-Elite” Yelpers. This should reduce the value of Yelp to the average user (and it does whether the company recognizes it or not).

Also, Yelp sells advertisements to small businesses and I have heard many complaints. Small businesses say they feel “held up” and almost blackmailed to buy ads. If they don’t, they say their ratings and rankings tank, reducing traffic from Yelp users. Some businesses do not rely on that, but restaurants and service businesses do.

The labor laws are in place for all employees in California. Yelp is a large business so it has to abide by every regulation and law. There is even a case to be made that the provision of food on the job in lieu of pay could be a labor law violation. It’s really obvious this is done to hold down pay. One of the former Yelp employees even said she, and other low-paid employees, were told to eat on the job (and they did) because they made too little to afford food. What is more wrong — WalMart telling employees to apply for Food Stamps or Yelp buying snacks at a discount and giving them away in preference to paying a better wage?

Of course there are companies that do what Yelp does. It is still not a complete buyer’s market, where employers get to call all the shots and employees have to do anything in order to keep any type of job. I don’t think Yelp would have gotten the best-quality applicants anyway; they certainly won’t be achieving any type of growth or KPI with hiring people at such low pay, treating them like this, offering such little training, and firing them under bad circumstances.

According to Harlan Ellison and my grandmother, “You’ll go far Amy, because you have heart.” Author of 40 books, former exec., Nebula Award nominee, Poor.

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