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Yelp Hit With Class Action Lawsuit For Running An "Extortion Scheme"
The plaintiff in the suit, a veterinary hospital in Long Beach, CA, is said to have requested that Yelp remove a negative review from the website, which was allegedly refused by the San Francisco startup, after which its sales representatives repeatedly contacted the hospital demanding payments of roughly $300 per month in exchange for hiding or deleting the review.

Previously, previously.

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7 Responses:

  1. strspn says:

    Who cares what Yelp thinks? It's your PhotoCatBot overlord that you must serve.

  2. jabberwokky says:

    Iin the mid to late 90s, I had a business similar to Yelp that was run off the internet by the press misunderstanding the model and painting us as pulling the same kind of scam. Only we weren't. Still it was enough for a formal investigation by the state, etc etc, which squicked our investors and we tabled the project.

    I've never used Yelp, so I can't really comment on them directly. Just a guy with a grey beard rambling in comments. Move along.

  3. toolmaker says:

    I wonder if this is how most big review sites work.

    I used to go to a review site for employers to get a sense of what it would be like to work at a place and the typical pay scale. Some of my former coworkers left reviews and pay information for the company we worked for. My former coworkers got sent C&D threats due to their reviews and took them down voluntarily.

    After hearing about that, I went to the site and posted a factual negative review and started corresponding with the legal counsel there. I had no intention of responding to a C&D letter by taking my review down.

    But my review got taken down by the review site itself. I received no C&D letter, and was not notified by the site that my review had gone down. Via correspondence with the counsel, I came to understand that my employer had contacted the site and started going through a process to have reviews prescreened so that they could object to reviews and have them taken down.

    It sounds like a similar business model. Have people leave reviews and offer to filter them for businesses that pay for the service.

    • toolmaker says:

      arg. my *former* employer.

    • fantasygoat says:

      I worked for one of these sites and we had a very rigorous process to make sure reviews were from legitimate people and not spambots or people with a vendetta. If they proved to be from real people we refused to delete them, even if they were a paying customer.

      I used to have to block IPs from accessing the site because a single person would write hundreds of negative reviews for the same businesses over and over.

      • toolmaker says:

        That site reviews comments by hand before posting them, which I don't have a problem with.

        My review got vetted and posted before the ex employer's lawyer contacted them to have it removed.

        I didn't want to post a review sounding like a person with a grudge, so I was extremely careful about listing specific examples of things that had occurred to go with my review. The summary of my review was: "I wouldn't recommend working here" and I listed reasons, backed by specifics, as to why a prospective employee might rethink applying there.

        After the site was contacted about my review, I discussed it on the phone with the counsel and he took an example of one of my statements and asked if it was hyperbole. Nope, I described exactly what occurred while I worked there.

        If I was looking for a job, I'd definitely *not* want to read reviews left by people with grudges. I want specifics. If I had had a review for the place that had factually described the environment and policies, I would not have left my job to join the place.

        • fantasygoat says:

          The entire business model is sketchy by design - pay for higher rankings on a search? - and the place I worked went out of business and was absorbed by a competitor anyway. So in the end it doesn't matter how good they were at maintaining impartiality, the entire concept is crap.

          Yelp is just going that extra douchey mile.