Yelp Faces “Elite” Backlash & a Lawsuit On Fraudulent Reviews

It’s Neat to Be “Elite”

There has been much controversy surrounding Yelp, from their sales tactics to their review filtering system. Recently, their “Elite” Yelp(er) Program has been subject to scrutiny. If you’re unfamiliar with what it means to be “Elite”, Yelp basically rewards Yelpers who have a high volume of reviews under their belt. Yes, those are the special people with the little Elite badge on their profile. The Elite Yelpers get the chance to attend exclusive events at local businesses (usually restaurants) where they can indulge in free food and swag.

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Members are tempted to become and stay Elite by cranking out reviews, whether it’s warranted or not. And in place of the “Don’t you know who I am?” card, Elite Yelpers have reportedly pulled the “Elite” status on small business owners upon their arrival in order to get free/better food and service. While it’s not necessarily fair, it doesn’t look like Yelp will stop any time soon.

Yelp Under Fire for Fraudulent Reviews

A new class action lawsuit alleges that “Yelp insiders and executives sold off more than $81 million in artificially inflated stock while deceiving shareholders about the company’s business practices and financial outlook”. Furthermore, Yelp is accused of showcasing “fraudulent” reviews that may not be authentic or written by a customer who actually had a first-hand experience with the business.

The idea of fraudulent reviews could go both way, positive or negative reviews. An example would be a business featured on television and viewers, not necessarily customers, flooding the Yelp Page with good/bad reviews. Case in point, the infamous Amy’s Baking Company fiasco where it was flooded with negative reviews. On the other hand, a restaurant being featured on the news showcasing their volunteer and donation efforts may get an influx of positive reviews. Either way, visible reviews written on these businesses could be considered fraudulent.

Sharing Your Own Experiences with Yelp

Share your thoughts about Yelp with us on Facebook and check out our other posts on Yelp here:
What Are Your Options For Bad Yelp Reviews?
A Yelp for Help: Alleged Extortion
Yelp! I Need Somebody (Help, Not Just Anybody)
Yelp Can Help Your Small Business

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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