Letters from the Lunar Outpost

Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Ugly Truth About Yelp

Today, I saw a lot of news organizations running stories about Yelp suing South Park for $10 million dollars for lampooning the company in their latest episode. Unfortunately for those news organizations, the story which had briefly topped Google News just isn’t true.

A Yelp spokesperson says the company isn’t actually suing South Park and Comedy Central, and reports of the news came from a hoax site, which Google News briefly attributed to NBC. “We have no interest in legal action against the fantastic team that makes the South Park magic happen,” the spokesperson told Eater.

source: The Week

Those news organizations may have gotten scammed, but it’s nothing compared to the scam Yelp ran for many years on businesses and the public at large.

The scam Yelp was running was so blatant, I really can’t believe they got away with it for as long as they did. Basically, the way it worked was that as a business, if you were willing to sign up for a business account and pay the monthly fee, then any time you would receive a negative review, it was as simple as a phone call to your Yelp account manager to get that review removed.

By the time the company I was working for decided to quit paying Yelp for their service (a more accurate term might be “extortion fees”) we had a total of 34 reviews removed from the front page and buried behind a small link that called them “other reviews that are not currently recommended” (and thus, were not factored into our Yelp score).

Of course, that all was exposed to the public at large when Yelp was sued for their extortion schemes and people realized not only were businesses forced into a paying into the equivalent of a mafia-style protection scam but that because of this, Yelp was completely unreliable as a service to everyone else looking to vet businesses.

Rumor has it that all the lawsuits filed against them forced them to reconsider their tactics, but after all the sleazy practices that I saw running rampant in that organization, personally I would never, ever trust Yelp for an opinion on anything.

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
by
Doris Kearns Goodwin