Yelp Lawsuit Widens: From Washington to Chicago to L.A., Plaintiffs Charge Extortion

Categories: Chow Bella

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​Nine companies have joined the proposed class action lawsuit against Yelp, the San Francisco-based Internet giant, attorneys in Miami and California announced this morning.

The new plaintiffs are located everywhere from Tujunga, California to Washington, D.C. They include businesses ranging from a sofa outlet to a bakery to the heart of Yelp's business, several restaurants.

All allege that Yelp, a website that purports to offer public reviews of all kinds of concerns, engaged in extortion by attempting to sell them ads and offering  to erase bad reviews in exchange. In some cases, negative reviews were even added -- and strong-arm techniques were employed, the plaintiffs say.

"Since filing the complaint we have been inundated with calls and emails from small businesses around the country," says Jared Beck, the Miami attorney representing the plaintiffs. 'Many of them asked us what they can do to actively stand up and join the fight against Yelp."


The original case was filed by a California veterinarian, Gregory Perrault, against Yelp. His attorneys believe the company bullies patrons using not only a paid advertising staff, but an "elite' group of free reviewers.

Among the new plaintiffs in the case are Astro Appliance Service of San Carlos, California, Le Petite Retreat of Los Angeles, Scion Restaurant of Washington D.C., and Bleeding Heart Bakery of Chicago.

The company has hired attorneys, Michael Rhodes and Sarah Boot, to defend itself. Yelp acknowledges that in some cases, bad reviews have been removed from the website by an "algorithm." The company, they say, offers a great public service by bypassing conventional reviewers.

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5 comments
Connectedrecordsinc
Connectedrecordsinc

A company should not be allowed to gain a profit of the negative opinion of another business?????

Lina
Lina

I can guarantee that Yelp is shady and shoddy in their business practices. I had a court case with a customer of mine and he has posted fraudulent information against me on the site. I have written multiple times to different departments of Yelp offering court documents ect. to prove that his allegations are false. I have NEVER received even one response! I spoke by phone to a rep and told him about the issue. Once he talked to me and I gave him all the details he assured me that someone would help me in my case and told me to contact them again via email. So I did and just as before no response. I have lost all hope. I have no way of doing anything about it and I have lost all hope. My negative Yelp review gets multiple reviews through the week effecting my reputation because all positive reviews are filtered. I am just another Yelp victim. 

Fred
Fred

Yelp is damaging businesses outside of their 'pay for removal of bad review' BS and I'll tell you why: yelp filters positive reviews so only negatives show unless you pay their $300+/month advertising fees. My business has 8 positives and one obviously fake negative (that violates their own TOS -from an obvious fake reviewer with no other reviews and no profile info).

I have been fighting this for a year now, even going so far as identifying my local yelp agent and supplying a list of contact info for the clients who have left positive reviews but the only thing showing is a fake negative; positive review get taken down the week they're left (a client just left one last week and it's already filtered out).

You might think this doesn't matter to you or that people don't really use yelp bit guess what comes up when someone searches for your business name on google? In my case the second result is yelp's negative review:

http://www.google.com/search?q...

This fake negative showing in googles search result page for my business name is a HUGE hit to my business, especially since we have over 120 legitimate references and testimonials and a 6-year history of going out of our way for our clients.

Let me ask you this: How would you like the world to see a negative review posted from a competitor when searching for your company online -why can't yelp provide the same filtering for negative reviews that they do for positives?

They've filtered 100% of my hard-won positive reviews. This is not logical and it is damaging and all o my positive reviews went into their 'filter' shortly after inrerused their advertising offer.

Coincidence? I think not.

What kind of automated system kicks out 100% of positive reviews, from seperate users? Can't they just verify email or phone?

Fred

Bill OLeary
Bill OLeary

If you pay yelp they will hide the negative reviews. They are still their but they make them so people can not see them.

Brad
Brad

Fred, have you made any progress, we have the exact same thing going on.  

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