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Re: “Yelp Extortion Allegations Stack Up

I use yelp. I manage a business that receives yelp reviews. I have had similar experiences with yelp salespeople but not as hardcore. I always felt they were walking a fine line ethically and never chose to advertise with them because I thought it was pointless. I noticed similar changes to our reviews but I also felt many of the yelpers were right, so I did not, nor do currently accuse them of altering our reviews. I imagine the yelp business model is a difficult one to maintain without aggressive efforts to advertise.

I am not a fan of their pitch, and I thought they were pushy, but my biggest concern is the lack of monitoring of content. A while ago, someone yelped my business. They did not enjoy their experience, which I appreciate, but the user felt the need to add that the person who helped them was overweight. After flagging the review from my personal account no fewer than 8 times, I finally received a response. In an effort to keep this brief, the response stated that they would not ask the reviewer to remove the comment, which was all I asked, and that it did not violate their terms of use. I was furious. How can needless and irrelevant information that serves no purpose other than to insult a worker be put on the internet for all to see? Imagine yourself reading a yelp review and seeing that someone mentioned that their server was "overweight".

If I knew where their office was, I would march down there, find the most self conscious person looking person there, find what I believe to be their most significant physical flaw and mention it when I post a review about them. By the way, go ahead and try to find a customer service number, or an address. I sent countless emails to their contact address and it took 3 weeks for them to reply.

Recently, a restaurant in my neighborhood was yelped and the reviewer mentioned a rumor he overheard at a local bar about the manager being fired from a previous employer for stealing. I flagged the review because it did not offer an opinion about the restaurant itself. I doubt it will be removed. Hard working people can be hurt by malicious reviews and I don't think there is enough oversight of content.

Let's face it, Yelp is a great idea. I read Yelp reviews before I check out restaurants on my wish list. I take the bad reviews with a grain of salt, but I find them generally helpful. I hope that they get control of the nastiness that is becoming pretty common so that decent people can provide each other with useful information. Currently, it is too easy for someone to flame a business and hurt people directly and indirectly and there is no protection from the people who run my opinion anyway.

By the way, I'm one of the many people who run a business reviewed by Yelp, and while I haven't experienced the strong arm type tactics described in the article, I still wish to remain anonymous because I do believe that there are some bad apples involved in that organization. Great article. I generally feel that EBE articles are a bit biased and overly dramatic, but I enjoyed this article and am happy to see someone pursuing this topic. Kudos!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by A. Knonemouse on 03/18/2009 at 3:34 PM

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