(Update 1: Article updated to reflect new, review of CFPB)
Thanks to a new agreement between the federal government and Yelp (YELP), anyone can now rate and post a review of any federal agency on the consumer review-driven website and app, and maybe even get a response too.
The agreement was announced yesterday in a post on Yelp’s official blog called “How Many Stars Would You Give the TSA? Review Federal Agencies on Yelp...and Maybe Get a Response.”
The blog says that Yelp users are now “encouraged” to leave reviews for federal agencies, field offices, national parks, or even TSA checkpoints.
Under the terms of the agreement, government agencies can now claim their page on Yelp, read and respond to the unfiltered reviews, and even “incorporate that feedback” into improvements to its services.
“We encourage Yelpers to review any of the thousands of agency field offices, TSA checkpoints, national parks, Social Security Administration offices, landmarks and other places already listed on Yelp if you have good or bad feedback to share about your experiences,” the Yelp blog says.
“Not only is it helpful to others who are looking for information on these services, but you can actually make an impact by sharing your feedback directly with the source,” the blog continues.
According to a report from Time Magazine, consumers have been able to review federal agencies for years, just as they’ve been able to review restaurants, grocery stores and other similar outfits, but under the new agreement, the government can now respond to those reviews when they could not do so before.
“It’s exciting because it allows government agencies to take real-time feedback from citizens and act upon it in a way that helps our democracy operate better,” Luther Lowe, vice president of public policy at Yelp, told Time Magazine.
“As this agreement is fully implemented in the weeks and months ahead, we’re excited to help the federal government more directly interact with and respond to the needs of citizens and to further empower the millions of Americans who use Yelp every day,” Yelp says in its blog.
So if you (or someone you know) has a complaint about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development or any other federal agency, you can now voice those complaints on Yelp – and maybe even have an impact that particular agency’s policies.
The CFPB's page on Yelp poses an interesting quandary.
Prior to this article being posted, the CFPB’s page had one review – a five-star review at that – from “Ryan G.” in San Francisco.
Ryan writes that he contacted the CFPB after he had an issue with a “bogus interest charge” from Chase. He writes that the CFPB addressed his complaint and resolved the issue quickly.
“I was very impressed with the ease and responsiveness of this organization,” he writes.
But as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern on Aug. 20, the CFPB received another review – and this one was decidedly less positive than Ryan G.’s.
The review, from “Jolly 'Fats' Weehawken I.” of Dallas, calls the CFPB the “Worst. Federal. Agency. Ever.”
And the rest of the one-star review isn’t much better. Here’s the rest of the review:
Elizabeth Warren must be dying for the opportunity to begin turning over in her grave over this debacle. Anyone hoping this would become the righteous agency she envisioned will be appalled at best. What was to be serving as the ever-vigilant paternal agency shepherding the feeble-minded American consumers from the certain disaster of their own financial ignorance has become a nothing more than a blast-furnace of taxpayer dollars.
Swank headquarters facility though
With the one-star review added in, the CFPB went from being a five-star review on Yelp to a three-star.
What’s interesting about the potential for unfettered and unfiltered consumer reviews involving the CFPB is that it’s exactly what many in the industry were complaining about when the CFPB announced that it would be making consumer’s anonymous complaints about financial services providers public.
The Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions both said last July that they believed making the CFPB’s consumer complaint database public wouldn’t serve consumers or financial institutions.
“Adding unverified consumer narrative to the CFPB complaint database will not help consumers select a financial services provider,” Pete Mills, senior vice president of residential policy and member services at the MBA told HousingWire at the time.
“Would people pay for Angie’s List if they excluded all the positive reviews?,” Mills said. “Without context, a database full of complaints does not provide useful information to shop for financial services.”
But those thoughts and the opinions of the MBA and other organizations didn’t stop the CFPB from moving forward with its complaint database.
In fact, the CFPB published nearly 8,000 consumer accounts of problems they say they are facing with financial companies in June.
But now, the rest of us will have the opportunity to rate and review the CFPB (and every other federal agency) right back, maybe even get a response, and potentially affect that particular agency’s policies.
(Image above courtesy of Yelp)