A Yelp for Help: Alleged Extortion

As a consumer, it’s only right that you can to take to the internet to share your good and bad experiences at certain establishments. Some prefer personal blogging but Yelp provides a standardized platform for consumer-based business reviews. Yelp is pretty great. I’m continually surprised by the hole in the wall restaurants and have even managed to find a new dentist. Then again, there are times when you stumble upon some horrible reviews and wonder how owners feel or react to this type of criticism. I’ve heard of lawsuits against Yelp before, but not like this.

Last week, Yelp was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging “extortion schemes”. In short, many business owners are claiming that Yelp hit them up for $$$ (so-called advertising packages) after they received bad reviews. Some claim that Yelp offered to remove the negative reviews in exchange for convenient monthly payments.

Of course, Yelp’s CEO has a different story. In the way Jeremy Stoppelman explains it, their marketing tactics are completely legal albeit, a little “weird”. Things are looking more than weird for Yelp right now as more cases are rising against their favor. Time will tell what will happen, but can Yelp’s credibility be fully restored after this case? CEO Stoppleman claims they have nothing to hide, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

There are a lot of cases where small businesses have benefited from Yelp reviews. I’ve even seen negative reviews completely reversed when owners take the time to reach out and contact the negative reviewers. Everyone deserves a second chance at correcting their mistakes but maybe, Yelp has had one too many?

What do you think about Yelp’s current dilemma?

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

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