perating as a small business owner, on a couple of occasions in the past I’ve encountered people that are something less than honest. This is not the norm by any means — and yet one realizes early on to keep a wary eye for those few wolves who fashion themselves guardians of the hen house, so to speak….
I recently received a $300 advertising coupon, alike the sort I’ve received from advertisers like Google.com in the mail. You enter a coupon code somewhere and get to try out the service. I took advantage of such an offer from Yelp in late October of this year — only to start getting transactions mysteriously showing up on my credit card earlier this month, contrary to expectations.
I had taken advantage of the coupon at the time, which did not explicitly advertise there would be debits automatically starting once the $300 had been used up. Nor was I able to readily determine at any point how much of the credit was used.
Finally, when a December bill appeared, I immediately contacted Yelp to cancel any advertising services that might have been procured. I was concerned that it wasn’t generating any business for me and that they were keeping records of user credit card numbers (a practice with which I have issues for both reasons of personal security and privacy).
Contact with Staff was Terse and Unhelpful
The amount of the bill wasn’t too substantial – less than $100 in Canadian funds. However, despite taking this as an opportunity to build a positive customer experience, they responded to my concerns as “threatening” them (when I mentioned I would be describing my interactions with customer service here on my blog) and trying to get out of paying the bill, stopping short of calling me a thief outright. This attitude was evident despite my attempts to voice my concerns to two different parties by phone – the only emails I could receive from them seemed to be automated messages aimed at billing.
After encountering two highly confrontational staff I thought it incumbent to characterize my experience as objectively as I could for the benefit of others seeking a review of the Yelp service.
Doesn’t Follow its Own Advice on Handling Complaints
Yelp’s own advice on the subject of end-user reviews is as follows¹:
Either way, when responding to reviews it is important to have good practices established to make sure your organization and your [customer]’s privacy are protected. In both scenarios, the goal should be to take the conversation offline and to a private channel.
It’s my considered opinion Yelp did not follow it’s own advice in my particular case, nor does it do so when it comes to the privacy of others; whether they are customers or simply users of its service(s):
- retaining credit card information can be a license for the unscrupulous to simply debit amounts indefinitely regardless of customer intent; such as when a company doesn’t bother to take the spending intentions of customers into account and charges for services they don’t want; effectively taking a nickel-and-dime approach to earning profit rather than promoting & selling services on the strength of their own merit, and
- allowing customer service staff to become confrontational with customers is both unnecessary and inexcusable. Worse still, Yelp made virtually no effort to “take the conversation offline”, instead calling my intention to review my interactions with them a “threat” and insisting they’d continue with the charges.
It’s certainly accurate to say I can’t describe my own experience with Yelp as necessarily representative of those one would have with the company and it does appear many have had positive experiences with them. However, I can equally accurately say that my experience was anything but positive from the perspective of a customer and there are many on Facebook and other alternate online sources who report difficulties as well. I can also state with certainty that given my concerns, treated as they were, will result in my never considering business with them again in the future.
My experience also left me with the impression that Yelp is a company governed less by technology innovation and more by a very single-minded focus on earnings from its advertising business. (Although it was not necessarily my intention at the outset to demand no-cost settlement of the bill they sent me, this became an issue when they declined to discuss my concerns in good faith.) In the future, I’m likely to seek out Microsoft, Google or WordPress when considering online advertising. Even should this prove to be more expensive, both companies seem to be paying a lot greater attention to their advertising clientele.
Follow-ups to this story may appear here, should any occur.
¹ See https://www.yelpblog.com/2016/12/experts-guide-patient-privacy-online-reviews near the subheading “Example 1” for source.
roperty Management Application(currently code-named Project “ARTeRMis”) moved a step closer to delivery of a much larger property management tool based on Microsoft SharePoint today with publication of one of the trial components: “Edgewater“. This component is simply an amalgamation of a number of different elements native to SharePoint, but hosted in the Office 365 environment and is setup to product test the suitability of them for inclusion in the TRM (Tenant Relationship Manager) application delivery going forward.
Artermis will ultimately be heavily dependent on Office 365, SharePoint and ASP.NET MVC when it ships; currently forecast for initial delivery sometime in 2017.
fter 3+ years hosted at Weebly.com, it was time to finally take The AppRefactory Inc. company website into a modern hosting environment with features and integration potential that would allow us to demonstrate, albeit in brief, what ASP.NET MVC could offer. Dynamic product listings with breadcrumb sub-navigation, upload sections for partner contracts and résumés; and database-driven contact forms that make it easier than ever (and convenient) to stay in touch are all just the beginning. In the days ahead we still expect to add:
- Links to customer features site (requiring login) via Office365, Visual Studio (online ed.) and SharePoint,
- Highlights and links to ongoing software development currently being undertaken by the company,
- Book time online with a consultant to review your software service needs or setup an in-depth remote service session online through HackHands.com,
- Subscription for partner companies and contacts looking for email updates consultant availability and/or major site & service offering revisions, and
- Links to WindowsStore.com and related sites for specific product integrations (Windows desktop, server and phone all to be included).
So stay tuned! There’s much more yet to come….and you won’t want to miss any of it.
(Additional graphics related to the new website can be found on our Yelp.ca listing.)
o you don’t see many posts from me under the heading “Sports” (actually there’s not enough content here at the moment to justify having a sports category); but as a tenacious Winnipeg ex-patriot, I thought I should make my viewing audience aware of a little poll on CBC Sports’ web site asking Canadians to vote on what city should win the next NHL franchise. Of course, the only competent argument that can be made in answering this question would favour the resurrection of the Winnipeg Jets — yes long, long before we get around to redressing any plans for the Québec Nordiques. And since I want to return to Winnipeg at some point in the future and would rather have a city that’s happy and prosperous to live in ahead of one that feels as if the life had been sucked out of it by a wraith or some other paranormal entity, there’s an element of selfishness in my wanting Winnipeg to once again have attractions (like the Jets) which offer both spectacle and excitement.
So cast your vote without delay!
While cheerfully coding away this afternoon (delving into the intricacies of Commerce Server 2007‘s Staging subsystem), I had the television on in the background again monitoring the world through the lens of CBC Newsworld when on came Muhammad Yumus, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who brought forth his concept of "Social Business". Perhaps Mr. Yumus is a better writer and academic than a presenter, because from the dialogue in the short piece on Newsworld, I couldn’t readily distinguish the difference between his concept and an existing institution (that’s been around for quite a while): the non-profit corporation.
So, curious to find the answer to my question, "what is the difference?", I tried to find other sources of information through Google that could provide an answer. And, good ‘ol Google, jackpot! A nice, new-age, granola-crunching, health-oriented cycling website provided some meaningful analysis:
"Social business departs from the current for-profit structure that places profits above social needs. It also departs from the non-profit structure because leaders improve products, inventory turns and marketing instead of leaning on fundraising."
To learn all about Yumus’ ideas, one would have to read his book "Creating a World Without Poverty" and, to be fair, I haven’t yet had the chance. However, while Yumus has aptly characterized the merits and basic strength of the structures that support capitalism, I’m concerned that simply mirroring those structures isn’t going to offer much additional success for non-profit endeavours. If his basic thesis is that non-profit organizations are merely institutions that generate fundraising drives for one cause or another because they aren’t organized with the same operational structures as their for-profit counterparts – I think he may have actually overlooked the basic forces that are responsible for the success of capitalism: starting with greed.
By creating artifacts like stock markets and other such metrics to replace currency in this model (he suggests a number of alternatives), there is no guarantee that anyone will be any more interested in achieving charitable ends. But, even so, the idea is fresh and interesting. Hopefully, these new ideas aren’t pillaged by hype peddlers on the Internet or elsewhere to serve distinctly non-charitable ends.