Cherokee County

‘It’s just not safe.’ Metro business owner says Yelp needs to change posting policy

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — After getting a bad review online, a local business discovered a policy for one major website they worried could put employee safety at risk.

But the business owner told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray that the bad review is not what she’s most upset about.

It was when Jessa Slaven went to respond to the one-star review on Yelp that she discovered that she or an employee would have to put their own picture and name, not a picture of the business out there on Yelp.

That’s something she worries isn’t safe.

Jessa’s Tea Parlor in Woodstock prides itself on its glowing online reviews -- 4.8 stars on Google, 4.9 stars on Yelp.

“I feel like a lot of people are going to go, ‘Let’s go read the negative reviews first,’” Slaven said.

She told Gray that she wants to respond anytime a bad review comes in like the one-star review posted everywhere last week claiming, “Had my service dog with me and they gave me attitude about it. I will never go back.”

“We were trying to be patient. We asked her to put the dog in her lap as it was up on the table, eating off of our China,” Slaven said.

Slaven said the dog had no vest or anything indicating it was a service dog and that she only asked it not to climb on the table.


She responded immediately with an explanation on the Google review, but on Yelp she learned she could only reply as a business representative if she included her own personal picture and profile.

“Being a small business, all women-owned, all of my girls are young, you know, it’s just not safe,” Slaven said.

Yelp acknowledges to Channel 2 Action News that this is their policy, writing in a statement:

“Aligned with our mission to foster connections between local businesses and consumers, Yelp’s policy requires business owners to represent themselves with a profile photo to respond to reviews. Our records indicate that it is uncommon for business owners to receive hostile remarks or negative scrutiny when they respond to or acknowledge low-rated reviews.”

“In this world, you just you don’t know what’s going to happen. And I feel like putting personal information in your picture is just not safe,” Slaven said.

The business owner told Gray that she recognizes that talking to us about this also shares her personal identity but she wanted to speak up for other small businesses.

Gray learned the policy is just for small businesses.

For any business with more than 10 locations, Yelp allows you to use logos in place of personal photos.


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