D. Lynn Cee 
Member since May 6, 2011


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Re: “Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0

It's two years since the original East Bay Express story broke on Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0, but Yelp is still going strong-armed with the murky (at best), unsavory tactics that feel like extortion — which produces no end of stress and distress for small business owners, especially those in the midst of an address change. This happened recently (past few weeks) to my aesthetician, at her tiny, one-person "spa" (not full service) in San Jose, CA. "Diane" was bullied into signing up for hundreds of dollars-worth of advertising every month — that she can not afford. She was clear and polite with Yelp's sales' representative but very soon after their telephone chat and her refusal to comply, her well-deserved 5-star rating was missing several of her best reviews from longtime, loyal clients who took the time and trouble to write about "Diane's" nice business and excellent work.
To make matters even worse, Yelp does not seem to have a "MOVED" function built into its software (?!) ... or a function that transfers reviews from the old address to the new one, so it's as if you lost your great record and reputation and clients in a short-distance move (under 10 miles) and have to start over from scratch! (That's how it 'looks' on a business's Yelp page.) Yelp's "algorithm" is programmed to show even a short-distance move with a "CLOSED" banner. How primitive, sketchy and stupid on Yelp's part — this misrepresentation HURTS small business owners by causing undue hassle and confusion.
My aesthetician, who needed to move closer to her home in order to be nearer to a special-needs family member, called Yelp and spoke with the hardball sales' rep (whose full name I have), but she was given unclear, misleading runaround. Yelp's odd way of doing business, that appears to be as frustrating and unfair a model and "algorithm" as possible for small business owners, doesn't make sense at this late date in all the disgruntlement with, and lawsuits upon, Yelp. I can only conclude that Yelp doesn't give a damn.
Things changed much for the worse in the online representation of Diane's good business immediately after she refused to buy the costly ads that Yelp urged her to purchase on a monthly basis ($300/mo., to be precise, and it's a one-woman, part-time business ...).
If someone from Yelp turns up at Diane's business address door, wearing extra-dark sunglasses and carrying a brief case, I won't be surprised. It's that bad. And between Diane and I, we know two other, recent, similar stories, one at a hair salon in south-west San Jose (on Meridian), and the other at an upscale restaurant in Mountain View.
In an effort to up its value as a business, Yelp has lost its business values.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by D. Lynn Cee on 05/06/2011 at 8:53 PM

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