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Re: “Yelp Extortion Allegations Stack Up

Thank you *so much*, Ms. Richards, for doing this series, and exposing Yelps hypocrisy.

We are a small business based in New York, and have recently had terrible problems with someone posting dozens of false, defamatory and damaging "reviews" of our small business, all anonymously, of course. This person did it all over the web, and was shut down within hours on every single other site, everywhere except Yelp.

My staff and myself were called fat, stupid, rude, crazy, ripoffs, etc. We were accused of calling customers "Jews" { I am Jewish, BTW}, etc. Posts were made saying to go to our competition {named, with addresses}, and stay away from our store. Truly appalling stuff, with nothing whatsoever posted regarding our actual business practices or products. Over a three month period, we received almost 40 fake, non-factual one star "reviews". We are not a new business, but have been in the same small neighborhood for almost a decade. If any of this were remotely true, we would have gone out of business long ago.

It took over *3 months* of daily emailing to their legal department, calling, flagging etc, to Yelp to get them to pay attention to this and remove the false, damaging posts. {BTW, Yelps phone number and address are buried in the Terms of Service}

I was finally told over and over by a Yelp SALESPERSON who got back to me, that their number one concern is for their "customers", who Yelp thinks are the anonymous posters, when in fact their true customers are the businesses who are paying advertising dollars, which is apparently their only revenue. Businesses have no recourse whatsoever to respond to fake reviews, and I was told I was "too sensitive".

After this amount of time and an enormous amount of stress, most of the fake reviews were removed, all except two, because Yelp told me that would look "real". Before this started, we had only 5 five star reviews. THAT was real.

Yelp's current business model is *deeply* flawed, and unsustainable.

We'll be celebrating with champagne when Yelp finally blows through it's backers money, and goes down the toilet, where they belong. It was perhaps a good idea, but is being executed really, really badly, if not also immorally and illegally.

Opening a business takes a tremendous amount of money, work, sweat and tears, and to maintain a site where anonymous posters can tear them apart at will, and are actually championed and PAID for doing so, is a gross and anti-American system.

True freedom of speech works BOTH WAYS. On Yelp it is only ONE WAY.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by elsita larue on 03/19/2009 at 9:23 AM

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