Yelp Extortion: The Lawsuit’s Dismissed. Are they back at it in 2012?

As a disclaimer, this post contains quite a bit of personal conjecture. Online reputation management for small businesses is one of my personal passions. Managing a company that helps businesses utilize new media successfully is something I really take pride in. The thought of review sites taking advantage of user generated content to eek extra cash out of already-tapped small businesses really (and I mean REALLY) irks me.

In October of 2011 a class-action lawsuit against Yelp claiming that they were removing negative reviews in exchange for “advertising” was dismissed  with prejudice (meaning they cannot be sued again for the same reason). It’s now January of 2012 and already it seems the complaints of extortion are not going away; instead they appear to be growing more frequent in numbers as awareness has risen that something fishy could be going on at Yelp.

Savvy business owners know that online, everyone has a megaphone with seemingly, never-ending reach. Social media sites like Yelp have caused businesses to up their game and go the extra mile for their customers – that’s the good part. The flip-side is an ugly place where online review websites control a business’s reputation and as a result, their bottom line.

As I come across blogs that talk about Yelp, a quick scroll down the page to the comment area brings forth a slew of business owners claiming that Yelp is still filtering reviews based on whether they advertise. Here are a few places to read recent comments:

  1. An article that started out talking about Yelp’s review filter lives on in the comments with many angry small business owners
  2. Article written in 2009 by the East Bay Express on the topic of Yelp Extortion 2.0 lists recent comments by  hundreds of angry business owners
  3. Reddit discussion page with recent discussion on the above mentioned article
  4. The “We hate Yelp” Facebook group exposes concerns from users and business owners alike

If Yelp, is in fact, doing everything on the up and up, they are still facing quite a predicament. On one hand they don’t want fake reviews to cause consumers to distrust them and on the other hand they don’t want businesses and their reviewers to distrust how they handle their reviews. And in the mean time…thousands of people each day are making buying decisions based upon the visible reviews on Yelp.

As a business owner, what has been your experience with Yelp? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below…

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  • Jessica

    I received one bad review on Yelp. From a customer that kept demanding a $500 item they did not pay for (after i had already given them several free gifts.) Subsequently, Yelp removed EVERY SINGLE good review I have… but left this nasty review. According to their supposed “filter” system… this bad reviewer with no other reviews, no friends, and no image… should also be removed, eh? Several of the positive reviews I received were from verified Yelp members… who even posted pictures of the events I photographed! Yelp still removed them. So now, rather than 12 good reviews and 1 bad… I have this one hovering nasty review with 1 star rating.

    The problem is, I don’t run a restaurant… I’m a wedding photographer who has perhaps 20 clients a year… each who pays thousands. I don’t have 450 people who can potentially write reviews about me.

    I’m on a variety of other sites, TheKnot, WeddingWire… all with glowing reviews. I work extremely hard. Til midnight most nights. I value my clients and go out of my way for them… my clients love me, they still send me Christmas and Birthday cards… they’re wonderful. But this one bad seed…

    I can track my analytics every day. I see in what ways my name is used in search results. I can see everyone typing in my name with “reviews” amended to that… and then I can see that in that search result, Yelp is one of the top sites listed. So I know that I have potential clients seeing this. I can then see that this one review has nine “helpful” clicks. Which, for me.. could have meant nearly 60,000 dollars in business.

    Yelp is killing me, before them… withing two years I was one of the most in demand photographers in Texas with numerous awards. I work EXTREMELY hard. And they are ripping that all away from me. You write them.. nothing.

    When my good reviews started disappearing is when they started calling twice a week to hit me up for advertising. Again, the claim that they could have my filtered reviews “looked” at to make sure they were valid and restored. How about you do that just because it’s the right thing to do… not to extort money out of us?!

    • http://pixsym.com Samara Hart

      Jessica, Your frustrations mimic that of so many. Your story is yet further proof that Yelp’s review filter is hurting far more than it’s helping. Whether Yelp is manually or algorithmically hiding reviews, it’s a disgrace.

      • Daniel Negrea

        Same story for me ..refused their advertising and in 2 weeks
        all my reviews are gone..:)

        This site is a joke.. This is
        exactly what I posted on my yelp business page:

        Let’s forget about me for a second and talk about the site
        you viewing right now. Just do a search any search engine for “yelp
        extortion” before you decide what business should you go with.

        Thank you

    • Valeri Hoffman Bradford

      I have the same issue. I had 1 negative review(1 star) posted by someone who was angry because I would not alter my contract and work without a retainer. I still have the e-mail stating that they would like to hire me if I would work without the retainer & am seriously considering posting the whole thing-Yelp review & e-mails on my blog. I have had several clients who have posted positive reviews which have been filtered & have contacted me about it. I know it has cost me business. I also get the e-mails from Yelp wanting me to advertise with them.

    • joey

      Excellent point, I can’t wait to YELP YELP and give them ONES all the way around.
      i wont filter them either ; )

    • Jason

      Hey – I just posted a totally unrelated but similar story. I really think the press under emphasizes this.

    • C.S.

      They are doing the same thing to our business.We have worked hard to build our business. They are letting people just Lie.

    • maw212

      The only reviews I have up are two fake reviews from people who were never clients. I’ve been emailing Yelp for a week with no response. The only change that they’ve made was that they “unfiltered” one of the fake negative reviews.

    • Maureen

      I know Jessica, I know.. I am a wedding vocalist and it’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. I am devoted to my clients and LOVE what I do. I have Hundreds of happy, (can I say thrilled and not come across as bragging) customers over the years with letters, and emails to show for it. Yet, one bride with “buyers remorse” (and was not truthful with her review – lied about the cost of service and other things) writes a negative review and Yelp removes the positive reviews (ie”filters” them) and I am left with a potential customer typing in my name with the word reviews after it (and you DONT EVEN HAVE TO CLICK ON THE YELP LINK…to read) one brides first few words “I would not hire…….” I can see that people have viewed the yelp review and guess what, my phone is not ringing. I too am on the Knot and other wedding sites also. This has been my full time career for 25 years and one ANONYMOUS person can slander my name with no verification by yelp, and yelp just stands behind their “Freedom of speech” or whatever their faux credo is. Well, where are the positive reviews to balance things? So at least a potential customer can form an opinion based on the “full picture.” Ah, but if I advertised with them, those positive reviews would most likely return since they probably could verify that they were in fact valid and independent reviews. But until I advertise with them, the filter system has removed them all. I cannot afford 300.00 a month and it feels so wrong to me. Plus what happens after three months, 900.00 later and I discontinue advertising. Does the filter system revert back??

      So I have lost much sleep and shed more than one tear. I have contacted yelp many times but no answer. I have contacted the BBB but no outcome yet.
      How can this be right or fair or just? More importantly, what is there small business can do?

    • NYDogWhisperer

      I’VE BEEN ROYALLY DESTROYED BY YELP..IS ANYONE DOING ANYTHING?

    • disgusted

      God, this is so familiar. Yelp kills small businesses.

    • sophie27sophie@aol.com

      The very same thing happened to me after 30 years in the business. And I have the best of everything A+ BBB, Winner A-voter and a huge business. Then along came Yelp. Same as everyone’s story. Trying to extort money out of me. They won’t allow me on their site, won’t permit me to remove my business, nor will they allow me to contest any untruth that they filed. It’s like they’re a bunch of sociopaths who merely laugh and turn their backs. They are undermining small businesses in Texas and all over the country, causing them to fail.
      Call the FBI to file a complaint. It’s their department–fraud/deceptive trade practice/ extortion the whole 9 yards. I’m good at what I do-very! Last time Yelp guys called me and asked if I wanted them to clean up my site I told them. Leave it dirty–go try and clean up Yelp’s bad feedback. It’s far worse than mine! :-(

  • omar

    In a nut shell, i purchased a restaurant which was going out of business due to bad reviews and bad food. The place itself is beautiful and is in a good location. Me and my new staff have completely turned the restaurant around with allot of hard work and dedication. We receive good complements for our great food and service every day. Every single new customer who dines with us leaves very happy and impressed with our food and service. I have received several good reviews from new customers at yelp but the problem is that all of the are being filtered by yelp. All that comes up is the bad reviews from last year. One customer of mine told me that she was not planing on coming due to the bad reviews on yelp but at the end she came in because she got a flyer on her car from us indicating that the place was under new management and some have told me that they have come across all those bad reviews. This is very frustrating because people can’t see the good reviews that we have received since we took over the place. I really don’t know what to do. I’ve done research and i know we are not the only ones having issues with the way yelp is conducting their reviews. 

  • Aaamovingcompany

    So far, courts have allowed Yelp to hide behind Section 230 of the Communications Act. For the uninitiated, Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Act provides:
    No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.Here is my storyI have been extremely upset since yesterday, and I really can’t sleep, which is why I started writing this at 5:30am in the morning, I apologize if I ramble. My family runs a small interstate moving business named AAA Moving Company out of South Weymouth. We only run a couple of trucks, and as everyone, we have been struggling with the economy. We have been in business for over 40 years and I am t…he owner’s son. I was brought up in the business, and take pride in my work. Yelp has been approaching me, very aggressively, to take out a 300 dollar a month advertising package from them. I tried to explain to them that I was interested, and if times were better I would love to try it out. But, when your trying to keep a mortgage paid, heat, electricity, phone, gas for cars, diesel for trucks, etc etc. I physically do not have 300 dollars a month to give them. These salesmen that YELP has are real sharks though. I kept telling them call me in a few months, we will see where I am at. I finally told them I can’t afford it please stop calling me. Almost immediately our great 5 star review, that I was very proud of earning was removed, and suddenly there was a 1 star review from someone in NH that read “Called this company to discuss a quote. Received startlingly rude and unprofessional treatment. Customer respect does not seem to be a priority. Avoid.” YELP tipped their hand, I believe their salesmen are instructed to erase all good reviews, and show bad ones, also, if there are not any bad ones, write a bad one! We do not advertise in NH, it is illegal for us to move to NH. This person from NH is a made up fake by Yelp, I’m telling you it has to be. It’s driving me nuts, I’m a good person who works hard, now if you look my company’s name up in google a 1 star review shows 40 years of family work. It’s enough to make you throw in the towel.

    • http://twitter.com/kirkiscool Kirk Shelton

      again I don’t think this law applies. the problem isn’t the bad reviews themselves, its yelps process of filtering out reviews and making negative reviews more prevalent if you refuse to pay them. A business can survive if they have a few bad reviews next to a ton of good ones. But yelp’s “filter” is somehow mistaking honest good reviews for fake or robo-reviews, and hiding them from viewers and at the same time somehow allowing the worst of the worst reviews to be seen. And this seems to happen shortly after the business declines to pay for Yelp’s optional service.

      • peter davids

        I believe that a class action from the numerous business airing complaints will be the only way this style of operation will cease

  • Jeff

    My experience is the same as the others that have posted here. I unwittingly set up a Yelp account 3 weeks ago. So far I have 8 reviews. 7 great, one poor. All are legitimate and we addressed the problem with the unhappy customer to their satisfaction.

    We too are small enough that we won’t be getting a lot of reviews and all but one good review has been filtered. I expect it to be gone soon as well becuase it has only been posted for a day. I am particulary offended by the fact that since they filtered all the reviews that came before it, they show the one bad review as “the first reviewer”. This isn’t just misleading, it’s an outright lie!

    My best advice is, if you don’t have a Yelp profile for your business, don’t start one and hope and pray no one else puts you up there.

    • appalled in Canada

      Hey guys
      Just a girl from Canada that ran into your site (+) read all of the problems that your having.
      I’m S-O sorry 4 all of you!!
      My heart goes out to each and every one!
      Now 4 my idea to see IF this would help,
      It seems like if people are reading bad reviews,
      You guys ARE getting Screwed, Right?
      How about everyone getting together,
      Hiring a Lawyer,
      AND
      Having ALL your troubles, problems, and progress
      Aired in the media (Example TV, Radio Shows and any other Media’s that can be thought of)
      IF all your problems stem from your names getting Screwed by Yelp,
      WHY not return the favor
      AND PUT YELPS NAME UP ALSO??
      Hopefully this idea will help all of you!!!!
      Good Luck
      Hope it works!!!

      • appalled in Canada

        Part 2
        Oh BTW
        C if u can get a lawyer that will work for a percentage
        Good Luck again

  • Rod

    I am another victim of yelp. Two or three years ago after 4 calls in a week offering me $300/month advertising packages I told them to go to hell. this was a big mistake. All my good reviews disappeared and bad reviews came out of nowhere. in a short comment, i have a review that states i stole parts from a client’s equipment without any proof and that doesnt even make any sense as the part costs $1 (256MB of DDR2 RAM – i might have at least 100 of these waiting to be recycled since this old memory is useless nowadays). Another review states that i didn’t do something that i was supposed to. i offered yelp the contract signed by the client where it states that it was not part of the deal but they never removed the review. And the list of incoherences go on. I even have a client that threatened me with a bad review if i didn’t give him a $100 discount for job where a part that was intended to be installed in his equipment got one day late because of USPS. And all that with a $100 labor job (+$200 for parts). i told him i couldn’t do that. if he wanted it right away he should have opted in for the overnight shipping he was offered and refused. I couldn’t work 3 hours for free and give him my entire payment. Well, even though yelp was told about his attempt to blackmail me, guess what? they don’t care… it’s still hurting my company’s reputation. i can’t wait until the stock market realize that the only way they will ever turn a profit on yelp is when they get the disgruntled clients that love to complain with bad reviews to pay for that. I know at least two dozen business owners that didn’t even need my testimonial to stay away from yelp… they already knew what a horrible business model they have. 

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  • Amit_121

    This is my story as of last week.

    We are a ten year old company with solid reputation. We have
    been rated “A” by the Better Business Bureau of the Silicon Valley for seventh
    year in a row with no customer compliant whatsoever. Our company is older than
    yelp and  we know how to take care of our
    customers.

    Recently one of our customers was so happy that without our
    request she gave five star ratings on yelp. That followed two more five star
    ratings by real customers. We are a BBB “A” rated company and we do not need to
    spam yelp for customers. No company can survive for ten years by spamming
    review sites.

     

    Immediately I received a call from yelp account executive. She
    was a smooth talker and explained why yelp ad would help us grow our business.
    I though agreed to spend money on yelp advertisement but did not sign up  right away.

    Guess what? All the positive reviews were removed within 12
    hours.

    I followed everything by the book but did not purchase ad and
    their so called review filter raised eyebrows of the positive reviews from the
    customers who were sincere, genuine and impressed by our service. It took us
    ten years to build that kind of reputation and one little decision to delay
    spending money took away everything within 12 hours.

    Yelp is good as long as you pay them money. They are nothing but
    extortionists like mafias of third world countries who want protection money.     

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.paine79 Jennifer Paine

    The company I work for is experiencing the same problem.  I’m in charge of our e-commerce department, so I try to stay up to date on what is being said about us across the web.  I work for a high-volume, reputable car dealership in an affluent suburb of Chicago. 
     
    On Yelp, our dealership has 7 posted reviews.  One 5 star rating (at the bottom) and all others one and two stars.  We have 7 FILTERED REVIEWS…6 OF THEM 5-STARS!!!!  Just like any dealership, we receive bad reviews from time to time, but everywhere else, our good reviews are at least 3 to 1 over bad, if not more. 

    In the past, I have receied the solicitation calls from Yelp asking us to sign with them.  The Sales Rep would typically start off with saying something to the effect of, ” We might be able to help with some of those negative reviews.”  We never signed up, and well, by my previous statements, one can only assume that we fell into their extorsion list. 

    Luckily, we are a large business, but nonetheless, it still hurts our integrity, all of our employees who work hard and do things the right way, and of course, the bottom line.  I can’t even begin to imagine how small business owners can deal with dishonesty like this from Yelp.  Because of Yelp, on a personal note, I no longer put much thought into the reviews I read online. 

    I wish someone could bring these terrorists down.

    • Frustrated

      ‘” We might be able to help with some of those negative reviews.” ‘

      That is EXACTLY the line the salesman used with me before my reviews vanished!

  • Kao1234

    Yelp still has A+ on Better Business Bureau website. Have you complained?

    • Leslielandberg

      Bbb is an extortion racket facing multiple federal lawsuiits and investigations, as well. It is a bad jike. One hand rubs the other…

  • Cadman33

    Another victim of Yelp here. I provided specific examples to them multiple times showing how this one bad review violated their posted terms of use and content guidelines. Nothing, Just some pre-tyoed out message that says we look into every review… .blha blah blah. Oh and were also a victim of our actual real life customers 5-star reviews being filtered. What a joke. One guy even told me that they dont care about the facts of the case at all, I asked what about the clear violations of your terms and content?? Yeah you guessed it, still waiting on a response from that one. Thankfully I haven’t been bothered by their advertising company yet for this 300 a month advertising special. I hate to give into these crooks, but I can’t continue to have my customers see me in this light. I have some of the nicest hardest working people ive ever met working their butts off everyday to feed their families, and we cant have every jerk on the internet saying whatever they want, whenever they want. I hope someone out there can topple this internet giant and help us all out. I feel so bad for our future and our children. What kind of way is this to teach youngsters about right and wrong? Pay up and you’ll have a good name, don’t and the whole town thinks your a crook based on one persons blatent lies. Unbelievable.  

  • James

    Anyone directed to this article by the owner of ‘Mind and Body Yoga’ on Niagara street in Toronto, please note that ALL the bad reviews on Yelp are 100% real and true. Owner is mentally ill, and the studio is a nightmare. Do not purchase a pass for this yoga studio.

    Again, all the Yelp reviews are legit. The only fake ones are the 5-star reviews the owner himself wrote (and were filtered out, because they all had the same IP address).

  • steve2012

    I put legit 5 star ratings for 2 businesses and they are no where to be seen. What the dealio? And one of the businesses had a range of reviews from 1 to 5 stars and now only shows them with 1 star reviews. Huh?

    • Jim

      Have you tried filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, select Yelp, San Francisco, CA.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonnathan.poster Jonnathan Poster

        I filed w/BBB. Nothing happened. They still have A+ rating.

  • Amarelavitasalon

    Having the Same problem I have 15 good reviews and two bad.. All my positive reviews are being filtered and I dont understand why I have Contacted yelp a few times. No response I am getting really fed up. Would love to know how I can fix this problem! 

  • ArtC

    My business was reviewed by a client. I never wanted to be on yelp but I went there and paid and claimed it because they called me and I am new to this game. It appears that the person who reviewed us also gave a negative review to someone else and that person is flagging all her reviews–good and bad. As a result our only single one, good review was out. If you have enemies–they will flag your reviews and that includes personal enemies. In our case we have no enemies (perhaps some competition but not much). But what can we do if our reviewers have ticked off others? I am not paying a dime extra and stopping my services with Yelp.

  • Naomi R.

    Was
    contacted to advertise with Yelp. Tried if for three weeks. Didn’t
    have a single customer come in so I cancelled before my contract
    started. Within 2 days, the only review that made it past the filter
    for my business (5 star) that had been up for over a month was filtered
    and I moved from #7 to #18 on the site for similar businesses. I don’t
    really think there is an algorithm. I think there are people and the
    back end making these decisions.  How do we really know?
     

  • MckayPhotography

    Our
    experience has been horrible. At the present time, our businesses McKay
    Photography and McKay Photography Academy has over 36 reviews in the
    “filtered” section. 34 are 5 star, one a 4 star and one a 1 star.
    First, we own two separate businesses. McKay Photography AND McKay Photography
    Academy. I have tried several times for Yelp to have two businesses set up, but
    they do nothing about it. Our very first review given was up for 6 plus months.
    It was a 5 star and the only review online for months. After we had talked to
    Yelp and said we did not want to advertise,( they called us several times) the
    review was taken down as “breaking their guidelines for content”. The
    content of the review…simply said “The Best”. That broke their
    content? Now as reviews are listed, they come down as quickly as they are put
    up most times. EXCEPT for the few negative ones. One reviewer that gave us a 1
    star has not ever even been into our business. I went on Yelp and rated them on
    their own site. AFtre giving them a negative review, I was contacted and told
    that the filtering system doesn’t like reviews where people rarely review, don’t
    have pics, and are out of the general area of the business. That is bull. Here
    is why. 3 of the 4 the negative reviews that are on our reviews are from people
    that barely review at all. One person, had only done two reviews in over two
    years! In both her reviews, she had actually never set foot into either
    business she reviewed, Yet her review stands and others that have us 5 stars do
    not. In regards to being outside of the area, we travel all over the US
    teaching and photographing. So OF COURSE we would receive reviews outside of
    the area. Again, one of the negative reviews from outside the area stands, but
    no others. All 5 stars. SO the items they said directly to me the
    “filter”: system looks for do not take out the negative reviews at
    all. Our reviews prove it. It is very sad that as a small business working our
    butts off, we have to deal with being listed as a 1-2 star when we are EASILY a
    5 star if the reviews were listed. EVERY 5 star review ha has been filtered are
    all legitimate. Does Yelp seriously think we would have 35 fake reviews?

     

    It
    is a flawed system to say the least and the excuses Yelp has given us directly
    make no sense. Can I prove that this all happened when we didn’t advertise? No.
    Does it seem odd that days after we said we didn’t want to, all of our 5 stars
    stopped being allowed up? YES!

    Sincerely,
    David

  • Suzybeez

    My story is more of the same. I own a small bakery and our reputation and word of mouth is our survival. I just can’t understand how this is legal. I don’t even want my business on their website!

  • Mandy Bellagracesalon

    Yelp has remover every positive review my business has ever had. After I received a phone call asking me to advertise my business with them. As a new business starting out I must be very carfulf with my spending. I believe advertising is very important, but yelps price was a bit high and I could not afford to spend that much money.
    Till this day every positive review my business had, has been removed. You must click on filtered review to see them, which not many consumers do. They have really hurt my business!

    • Mandy

      REALLY!!!!! all you business owners something must be done! Yelp is a scam how do we stop them? They are one company, and I see some many complaints from buisness owners, must be thousands like us. Can’t we do something?

      • Crystal Crosby

        If we complain to our congressmen & they try to help us, they’ll certainly draw fire too. Makes me wonder if Yelp is somewhere in the background of this election.

    • michael cornelius

      “As a new business starting out I must be very carfulf with my spending.” – You misspelled spelling.

  • Vallery2003

    i dont believe anymore in yelp…. alll! ALL my review they took away…. because it was good review about places what i REALLY like!!!!!!! So will not do it anymore… 

  • Aarron Wong

    I am the most recent victim. A few days after opening my restaurant, we received a 4 star rating on yelp. Two weeks later, one of the sale representative from yelp personally came to my restaurant and wanted to discuss about advertising plan. I told him that the landlord already had the plan with money mailer and pay that for us. Two weeks later another, sale rep. came to us and want to talk about advertising with them. I told him the same thing that I told the other guy. The next day, we got a whole bunch of bad reviews. My wife told me to ignored and moved on. The following week we go a 5 star review, another 5-7 bad reviews follow it. All of them talking none sense. We talked among ourselves that this must be the dirty tactic from our competitors. Another week later, one more sale rep. from yelp came to us again, and I told him the same thing. Once again, our reputation is flooded with all of those bad reviews. Many of the comments were sound like fact rather than personal opinion. Yelp IS FULL OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST THAT KEEP THEY FROM STAYING NEUTRAL AND FAIR IN PUBLIC, I think they should be shut down. How could government allow a company like this to rob and ruin small businesses. If the government cannot take care of this, I think we have to stand up for ourselves. We all work hard just to make a living, to help this economy, rebuilding this country, but a jerk like yelp try to destroy us. My family is almost destroyed because of financial stress. My kids keep complaining that I do spend enough time with them because I work 14-16hrs/day and barely cover our expenses. I am so exhausted now, and have to let go 2 of my hard working employees to save the restaurant and jobs for other people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonnathan.poster Jonnathan Poster

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Yelp has put hundreds of small businesses out of business and hurt thousands more. They have no mercy or compassion Anyone; a competitor, former employee, etc… can post a negative review. But it’s the real ones that get filtered.

  • Hotmama

    Yelp is a destructive tool to ruin a small businesses livelihood, I have a small nail salon that has had bad reviews because of an overload on the business
    Due to a groupon deal!!! My good customers have been reviewing my business on yelp for months, and all their reviews have been taken down,,the only one remaining is the destructive groupon one which is from a person who has never visited my business,, yelp removed the good ones, who do these people, think they are to take full control of your business and not even allow me the right to even decide if I want to be on there,,they take the owners right away from them and call all the shots, they need to be abolished, because of their business model,,they have made a cause out of the publics review
    Of your business, and most of the time it’s vindictive, people, who maybe did not get enough freebies, I am sick over this I want my rights as a small
    Business owner to decide where I want to be and take back my control, not some jerks who are making money because they have taken your livelihood
    And made it a big joke, for the public to rape,,it’s sickening to me plus I can’t even write a rebuttle, on this rotten review, they locked up my rights to do this. Where is my rights, it’s truly a sin this is allowed to continue, this yelp is full of young wannabes, who are trying to become wealthy on the backs of us hard working little business owners, they need to be prosecuted , for illegal business practices it’s called extortion,,read on line about yelp and no one legally has even addressed them yet, I DON’t GET IT, do you?

  • joe

    Another victim of yelp here also

    My company is the first ecofriendly transportation service
    in the state of Texas, currently we are only in dfw are. We have more reviews
    than any other transportation company in the entire dfw. Before when there was
    a new review we used to get phone calls informing we have a review. Now we don’t.
     suddenly when we reached 23 reviews all
    except two reviews where filtered.  Then few
    weeks later we received a call from yelp for advertisement, implying we will
    have more visibility if we buy in to it. being as former programmer myself I asked
    why my reviews are filter. They said its filtered because of the computer algorithms.
    Then I asked if that is the case then why some time filtered reviews reappears.
    They could not answer that. I did not buy in to their add and then now I see
    what ever number of review I have only three will show in the main page and it
    will shuffle back and forth some time weekly, monthly basis.

    We small business owner should stand up against this monstrosity,
    yelp is deceptive. I told them we do not need your website , our customer comes
    to us only because we are good and provide the best service not because of
    yelp, yelp exist because of small business like us therefor yelp can go to
    hell.

    • Jiwon

      The sales people and the engineers are completely separated. Asking a sales person with the specifics of the filtering algorithm will get you nowhere. Even among the engineers the algorithm is only accessed by a small team. Since it is an ongoing effort, there are changes in visibility according to the changes they make. And changes are always being made to better the algorithm.

      • http://pixsym.com Samara Hart

        Jiwon, I tend to agree with your comment. I don’t think sales knows all that much about the technical details. I also think there is alot of coincidental filtering that takes place. When they apply these tweaks to their algorithm and reviews are filtered they are swaying public perception of the businesses listed on their site.

        They hold alot of power in those algorithms and I guess my biggest gripe regarding the filter is Yelp’s attitude about the whole thing. Yelp is even less transparent with their algorithm than Google, which makes many who end up on the wrong side of the filter leery about their integrity.

        It’s a slippery slope and if they are completely on the up and up, I believe it would do them some good to offer more outreach (and a dose of their own advice towards reputation management) to these small businesses than half-snarky emails sent out once a month telling them how they “should be” using their site.

        A little care goes a long way.

        • James

          The fact that the engineers are still tweaking it means, it is not as all reliable as their sales people tell us. My client enrolled in Yelp and wasn’t satisfied with the service because his reviews were being taken down even if they were from legit clients. Even if my client was paying, the reviews were still being taken down. Yelp wants your services to be reviewed by Yelp regulars*, not by ordinary people who are also satisfied customers. They have community managers that takes care of these reviewers. And the power they wield can be devastating to a business owner. if your service really sucks, you’re going down, and you aint coming back up even if you improve your service. Why? those pesky old reviews stays on top of the list whether you pay or not.

          *Yelp regulars are those that makes tons of reviews in one day. You’ll notice them by checking their profiles. Check the different dates the reviews they made. If there are instances that the reviews appear with a similar date, that reviewer is a regular Yelper. Nothing bad with that. But does that make them credible reviewers? I can imagine them sitting down, then they do the Yelp (yelp! yelp! yelp!) mantra so that they can try to recall what happened for the week and start blabbing on the keyboard. Some write 15 to 20 reviews in one sitting. They are “rewarded” for the number of “quality” reviews they post. Whatever is given to them , it sure does attracts them to write more ;-) They are not bad people, my issue here is are they credible reviewers. Their taste for food or services doesn’t reflect the tastes and characters of other people. The best thing you can do? Focus on giving good service. I hope they run out of advertisers and go kaputz, but that aint happening ;-)

          • http://www.facebook.com/jonnathan.poster Jonnathan Poster

            If a review is negative it always stays up. Even if the reviewer has no history on yelp. It’s complete bullcrap.

          • Just Sayin’

            No, a negative review doesn’t always stay up. I posted a very well written, completely negative review about a restaurant which had tainted meat, and had other reviewers back it up in subsequent reviews. This was in early June. First, my review was filtered, now, all reviews related to mine, and my original review, are gone. Yelp is a scam and a lie.

      • JIWON_WORKS_FOR_YELP

        Jiwon…you work for YELP too I see.

      • hENRY

        bULLSHIT, YEAH i GUESS YOU ARE ALSO A 16 YEARS OLD FREAK HIRED BY YELP

      • Dave

        I was number one in yelp from desk top to iPhone Serie after declining advertising with yelp i was taken off and my reviews were taken off two.

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  • Leigh

    I work at a veterinary hospital where I am in charge of our website, online “presence,” etc… When we first started getting reviews a few years ago, Yelp started calling EVERY DAY to get us to advertise.  Our vet was so busy, that for awhile she wasn’t able to take the call, and the messages would go in the trash.  But their persistence paid off for them… After calling every single day for a month, the doctor finally got on the phone to tell them to go to hell… only to have them convince her to advertise on Yelp. 

    Now that we pay them every month, only our good reviews stay up.  I check Yelp nearly every day, and a bad review will go up (sometimes legitimate ones where I believe the client has a right to complain!)  and within two days it is filtered.  If their review filter works, then why doesn’t it knock out the 5-star reviews as well?

    It’s great that we have a 4.5-star reviewed business.  I think we are a 5-star business!!!  But… I think our reputation on Yelp is a manipulation because we are paying them.

    • Amy

      What you’re saying makes absolutely no sense. You had a good reputation before advertising because you’re a good business. Why would that change because you’re advertising?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonnathan.poster Jonnathan Poster

        I think he means all the 5-star reviews stay up and 1-star get filtered ever since he started paying Yelp for advertising. What’s confusing?

        • Yeung

          Is Amy working for Yelp?

          • nanogon

            haha, i bet Amy is working for yelp!

          • AMY_WORKS_FOR_YELP

            Amy definitely works for YELP. Hacked her IP…she totally works for YELP!

          • tavis mann

            this is when i like hackers :) please dont mess my stuff up im not a bad dude. We have all types of issues with Yelp , its no coincidence either. I understand the internet is like the wild west , but im really waiting for Clint Eastwood to come clean up the town of Yelp. I have read dozens of reviews talking about the same scenario. Business opens , gets good reviews , they get contacted by sales , they decline , bad reviews not only show up but stay up while good reviews get filtered. Sales people call more , talk about how advertising helps these kind of issues. Its only a matter of time before a yelp Ex-employee can help build a case. I really wish anon would get some internal emails or something. Its really a bummer we build a small business worry about taxes , profit / loss , random issues with the building all types , and then we have to deal with this negativity. Shame on Yelp.

      • YELP_WILL_BE_OVER_SOON

        You know your company is full of s**t…at some point your deception business practice will become exploited and at that pont in time, we will be there to bury all of your corporate thugs that built your business destroying small business.

  • Jutefly

    Yelp offer to advertise for my salon and when I refuse, they filtered out all my 5 star reviews and leave all negative reviews… My real customers which posted the positive reviews tried contactingYelp but was unsuccessful.. They’ve damage my business greatly and now I don’t know what to do.. We need to put an end to this extortion company..

    • Jim

      Have you tried filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, select Yelp, San Francisco, CA.

      • Kevin

        BBB is exactly the same. If you pay them, they’ll make your rating be an A+ no matter how many complaints have been filed against you.

        • http://www.facebook.com/JohnCrawfordCompany John Crawford

          BBB! what a joke that place is. They called me many times over the years. I’ve never joined. One time they called me and i told them i wasn’t interested. The guy replied in a threading manor “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot”

    • stephmarks77

      Exactly the same thing is happening to the salon i work at. so pisses me off. it’s not fair that Yelp gets to decide what our business looks like. We have 30 , 5 star reviews that are all filtered. we got one bad review that was about the owners driving skills and nothing to do with the salon and sure enough…they left that review … so tired of this. someone should do something. If we get a good review it;s filtered in 2 days …this bs review has been up for 2 weeks. We can’t let big business push little business around…..

    • CM

      The exact same thing has happened to my Automotive repair shop. I have over 19 5 star reviews and they are all filtered. They have called me about 5 times asking if I want to advertise and I say no its just not in my budget. I run a small shop with only 3 techs. Its not like I’m rolling in the dough! I have to compete with big chain repair shops that try to undercut me so I run at a pretty narrow margin at times.

      Since I have declined to advertise with them none of my 5 star reviews show up anymore. They then pulled about 3 1 start and 5 2 star reviews from 2009 and older and put them up front! They wont update those reviews either. They are from customers that we fixed their issues due to a very bad ex employee.

      Its sad to see something that should help people screw over businesses so blatantly!

  • Guest

    Yelp is a thorn in my side. Can’t delete a profile or listing, and can’t change any information as they lock it once they get it. I closed a business a couple of years ago and despite numerous attempts at getting them to remove it, it’s still there, still displaying old contact info and old addresses. I might mention the profile didn’t have ANY reviews, good or bad, so I don’t know what their major malfunction is.

    I would caution anyone from creating a yelp profile – you’ll never be able to get rid of it. Stay away from Yelp!!!!

  • J&C

    The same thing happened to me. I refused to advertise on yelp and all 5-star reviews were taken down and I was left with only two reviews.  My ice cream shop has been open for only a month I hoped that signing up for yelp would help us not hurt us.

  • Avkc22

    we had the same thing.  Not knowing about the lawsuit, we asked our patrons to help us to the top of the local “things to do” scene on Yelp, as soon as we got to #1, the good reviews disappeared and a phone call requesting advertising dollars was received.  We declined.  We remain #2 in our market… happily.

  • guest

    I recently heard of this, and it seems true in my case. I have consistently had 6-7 of my reviews(out of less than 20) filtered. The reviews that are filtered are by far the best I have up. Yelp has tried to sell me advertising “deals” many times, which I have declined, and over time they seem to have filtered more of my reviews.

  • HappyGurl<3

    They were relentlessly contacting me for the advertising scheme they have. And it’s a SCHEME because I noticed a really nasty review (the only one from a rude, mentally unstable client-yes, we knew exactly who he was) was taken off during the period they were calling and emailing me to no end. So I mentioned to my staff- how strange indeed if this is an “automatic filter”.  When finally I said I was not able to pay the $300+ a month to advertise with them, the lousy review was back. Many clients and friends (I of course had to warn every one, including my other acquaintance business owners of what happened and that my staff too saw the magic review appear and disappear and then REAPPEAR after they didn’t get what they wanted..) so friends wanted me to sue.. But here’s the thing.  SCREW YELP! It’s like being in high school- Don’t let name calling or vicious rumors mess with your mind! lol
    Keep doing what you are doing, focus on customer service and word of mouth and your business will thrive. AND THEY AREN’T THE ONLY SITE!! Encourage happy and satisfied clients to leave reviews of their experiences on Google and Yellow Pages instead! Yes these people at Yelp are disgusting and could care less how their site affects you. It’s a corporation and these people are doing their jobs- to manipulate and yes, extort.
    I pretend they don’t exist and it works beautifully for me and I focus on the positive, that my business is still here- and growing! :-) Good luck to all and please look to a bright future that not even the vultures at Yelp can mess up!

    • Daniel Negrea

      Same story for me ..refused their advertising and in 2 weeks
      all my reviews are gone..:)

      This site is a joke.. This is
      exactly what I posted on my yelp business page:

      Let’s forget about me for a second and talk about the site
      you viewing right now. Just do a search any search engine for “yelp
      extortion” before you decide what business should you go with.

      Thank you

  • Mkksully

    My husband and I opened a small restaurant in auburn, ca. We have the same story as everyone else. For $200 a month yelp would “advertise” for us, we refused and they have filtered almost all of our 5 star reviews. It’s really makes it difficult to bring people in the door. Not to mention there is no help against the fake, and evil reviews for our customers. Help please! What can we do?

    • Mkksully

      I meant competitors.

  • monkeybutt

    My brother experienced the same as what Jutefly mentioned. His establishment refused to serve someone they believed to be a minor, and she and the other members of her party proceeded to write scathing reviews concerning the incident (even after he gave them gift certificates and after the boyfriend of the suspected minor stated she “acts like this everywhere.”) When he tried to get the reviews removed, Yelp refused. But seemed to indicate that if he paid, then they would remove them. In the meantime, Yelp filtered out a bunch of 5-star reviews. 

  • You Might Suck….

    Unfortunately what most of you are experiencing is somewhat unfair, especially since you have little recourse against the reviewer. 

    It is highly unlikely that Yelp is removing or filtering the good reviews and leaving the bad ones to get money out of you. I’ll bet you $100 that if you paid them, that wouldn’t bring back the good ones. 

    Ask yourself truthfully, does this person have a legit grievance. You probably suck sometimes and just don’t want to admit it. Never before has a system like this been available.  

    The filter algorithm looks at the reviewer to see if they 1. Have Yelp friends. 2. A complete and useful profile. 3. Interaction within the Yelp environment. 4. Are making multiple reviews from the same IP address (your house).

    So, in conclusion. The filter is pretty smart and is getting smarter. Its also pretty dumb, but its more smart at this point than dumb. So ask yourself again is you aren’t as awesome all the time like you think you are.

    Brian

    • Jim

      If the filter is so smart why won’t Yelp allow independent review of it’s algorithm to make sure there is not some sort a systemic flaw in the system resulting from and perpetuated by it own corporate culture? Intellectual properties can be protected these days and insisting on keep it a secret only perpetuates suspicion. Angie’s list does not use this type of system.

    • tbbr

      Another yelp employee! Go away! I saw u posted the same thing on another board. Karma will do u in. I have reported ur company to FTC and BBB. Small claims court is next!

    • Bob

      You Suck, yelp employee. They slander small businesses my 20 fives stars and my 1 one star reviews turned me into a one star business. Your company is ran by the mafia.

    • http://twitter.com/kirkiscool Kirk Shelton

      So what you are saying is that if a business does a good job and a person decides to write a good review because they saw a sticker in the window encouraging them to, the review is invalid, because they arent a yelp addict? What do you say to the bad reviews that get left on a business page by a user who doesnt fit your filter criteria? I have witnessed this first hand. Your shit is broken, or illegal. step up

    • Sam

      All business owners should meet PERSONALLY with the Yelp employee and record their info. If there are some crazy owners, then feel free to do what you want with yelp employees…true justice?

  • E.G

    I own a restaurant in palm springs, CA. and since I refuse to adversite with them, they filter all of the great reviews and leave all of the bad ones.  Even the bad ones aren’t real.  These poeple have never been to the restaurant and leave awful fake reviews.  Yelp, has its own writers which do it as a job.

  • Yelp is an extortion

    Seems like a Yelp associate found this discussion forum and is all in to defend their employer.
    Pretty interesting that they claim to be always making a better algorithm but in no time they address the issue that the good reviews go filtered as soon as you tell their advertising sales team to take a hike.
    Interesting enough, when people pull up my company on yelp they find among the “paid advertisers” that is showed in the same window, options that have only awesome reviews although their filtered reviews are close to scary on how they try to rip off their clients.
    So let’s review that: I told Yelp on their fourth call to go to hell (literally) and my good reviews, both from frequent reviewers and from 1 time guys disappear. On the other hand the bad reviews are shiny sparky on my company’s page.On the other hand, my competitors who are paying advertisers get their 1 time good reviewers to be on their pages and the “whoever speaks ill of their company” guys go filtered…Hmmmmm… sounds like an extortion to me indeed.Now giving it a second thought, isn’t it time for us to start emailing our congressmen about this?

  • JimmyG

    I was a salesperson for 3 years at Yelp in the NYC office. I can say with certainty that sales folks are not allowed to manipulate the reviews on a company’s page nor offer as such. Also, if a person is found to make this type of proposal, they will be fired without question, regardless of tenure. Additionally, buying ads on Yelp has absolutely no affect on reviews one way or the other. The ads are completely separate from the reviews/reviewers.

    • JimmyG

      Additionally, for those of you that say your reviews are disappearing, this is generally because you solicit reviews from your customers and ask them to post on your site. This certainly does not mean that they are not real customers, however, there is simply no way for Yelp to tell the difference between your ‘real customer’ who only writes one review vs a fake person that only writes one review. What you are seeing when the reviews disappear are from reviewers that actively use Yelp and thus are part of the ‘Yelp community’. Reviews are constantly being moved on and off of Yelp pages, regardless of your willingness to advertise on Yelp or not.
      That being said, Yelp sales people are persistent, so when they call you every day or very frequently, it will turn your attention to Yelp where you will start to notice the everyday activity of the site. Again, it’s not because you aren’t buying that the reviews are moving on and off the page, it’s simply you finally noticing your page as a result of the phone calls.

      • Jim

        Yelp reviews that claim to file BBB complaints but BBB has not record of such a complaint are clear violations of Yelp policy, yet Yelp refuses to remove them. We actually have one that say they file a complaint with the ADA… the ADA is an educational organization and does not maintain a complaints filing system. This is clearly an effort to maintain there stats for business valuation and promotion purposes and not in keeping with the values they claim to embrace.

      • Tbbr

        Pls no yelp employees. How can you sleep at night helping an evil company destroy small business ownercom you crooks are on every board trying to do damage control. We will boycott ur evil company!

      • http://twitter.com/kirkiscool Kirk Shelton

        here’s where your wrong about the criteria for reviews by inactive reviewers being filtered. My friends business has 20 total reviews. 17 of them are filtered 4-5 star reviews by people who probably liked his business so much they decided to find them on yelp and create an account to give them a good review. encouraged by the owner? maybe but the 3 reviews it didnt filter were two 5 stars from a user with 30+ reviews, and one with 70+ reviews. and the 3rd was his only 2 star review by a user with 2 reviews and no profile pic. Unless the filter automatically filters what it considers inactive users, then from those filters the worst review regardless of user activity and posts it on the main page for contrast. Now his business is rated on 3 reviews, one of which is the worst of all… and by yelp’s filter criteria, could possibly be fake. Yelp expert, please explain this one?

  • JJ

    This is my story exactly! I own a salon as well and when yelp contacted me to advertise & I declined all 7 of my positive reviews were filtered the same week! All that is left are 3 negative reviews; one of which is a false review that my ex husbands new wife wrote :( so unfair that they are a legal company!!!

  • Eden B

    We just opened a gluten free bakery in Bellevue, WA. We have a very loyal following of customers. For the first 30 days we had 12 reviews, all 5 stars from customers that we know personally now. I received a call to join the yelp advertising program and turned it down. Since then 14 of our 17 reviews have been “Filtered” out and only 2 of the 5 star reviews remain and 1 of the 1 star reviews that was obviously written by an angry competitor. We flagged the angry competitors review and reported it to yelp and nothing has been done! This is effecting our business now. What are we going to do!

    • Amy

      I don’t see a 1 star review on your listing. http://www.yelp.com/biz/eden-b-bakery-bellevue But you have posted a Yelp deal, and understand the power of Yelp, or you wouldn’t be so concerned. I’ve seen numerous advertising businesses that also have many filtered reviews – I really don’t think the review filter is affected by advertising. In fact, there have been articles in the NY Times about Ike’s – they advertise and still have 444 filtered reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ikes-place-san-francisco. If Yelp is so important to your business, why aren’t you advertising?

      • tavis mann

        its funny everyone is already onto your roll to help Yelp. I am new to the techy world , because its just not my thing. But my nerd power friends would label you a Troll.

        • appalled in Canada

          Please read
          Appalled in Canada

      • Kim

        Amy, Obviously you do not understand anything about marketing budgets. Businesses figure out their budgets at a particular time of year and know how much they can afford. Yelp has no right to remove positive reviews just because a company decides that advertising on Yelp is not beneficial to their company. Total nonsense!

    • Diana W

      Same thing happened to my skin care salon, feel lucky, NONE of my 5 stars are up. For example, they filtered one lady that should be “trusted” and she was filtered in two days as well. The review from a person who has NEVER yelped before or since has been up for 2 months. Somehow that doesn’t jive with the alleged filter policy. WTF

  • disconted_in_LB

    the review filter system has been in place to my knowledge for at least a couple of years. my small business first got onto yelp about 1.5 years ago. I had a couple of great reviews, and one bad one. One bad review out of 10 wasn’t so disheartening, so I didn’t think too much of it.

    a few months ago, a yelp representative called me and tried to get me to pay for advertisements on yelp. After I declined, ALL of my 5 star reviews were filtered, bringing me overnight from a 4.5 star rating to a 2.5 star rating.

    And since then, every single new review has been filtered as well, leaving me with little chance to change my online reputation.

    I thought it was kind of fishy that this happened right after I declined to pay for their advertisements, but figured, hey, this is Yelp, a reputable company! they couldn’t POSSIBLY be doing anything fishy like this. until I started reading more online.

    Yelp, with great power comes greater responsibility. You are extortionists. You are abusing the privilege that the power of the internet has placed in your hands. So I say, boycott Yelp, until they’ve figured out what’s right and what’s wrong.

  • pissed

    Yes, Same thing as everyone else…we have 13 -5 star reviews in the yelp fileter, and they are from regular yelpers with multiple reviews!! our bad review is up and this is the only review she wrote. Yes, the advertisers called, and said i wasn’t going to pay to advertise my bad review…now all the new, good reviews go in the fileter…really aggravating, people work so hard, and this crap is out to take you down.

  • mario

    Please Please Please if you have had a problem with YELP and feel that it is justified send you story to mario@marsanint.com. We are going to file a class action law suit in federal court and you could very well be in for some damages.

    • Tbbr

      I am also a victim with same story. Fake review appears and positive ones filtered out after refusing to advertise. Pls also file to BBB and FTC .

  • Jim

    Two of our negative reviewers state that they have filed complaint with the BBB against us. But we are a member in good standing with a A+ rate and no history of complaints. When I contacted Yelp to tell them these reviews contained false statement that violate the site user guideline and that they could easily verify with the BBB that these statements were false I was told “the reviews reflect the reviewer experience” and are not subject to removal. When I pointed out these were false and libelous statement and grounds for legal action, they told me they can’t be sue for review contains and that I would only take legal action against the reviewer. This is clearly not in the spirit of honest and informative reviews and not what Yelp leads people to believe about the accuracy of the reviews on their site.

  • JF

    I have a total of 16 reviews. 14 reviews are great and 2 (one is not our customer) are bad. Of course only the 2 bad are remaining. I first complained when I had 5 reviews up. In the next few days all good reviews were deleted. Reviews that had been there for months and some for years. How did those reviews suddenly become unworthy? We have built a very successful business on a good reputation and this is horrible for us.

  • Yelp’s victim

    well, as i proposed before, i think it is time to start writing to your senator to look into that. I just sent my senator’s staff the following email:

    I am an American Citizen, an Electronic Engineer and a small
    business owner,and write in behalf of a growing problem that
    small businesses are facing: defend their reputation in the reviews website Yelp.com
    .

    After receiving at least a dozen calls from their sales
    department about 3 years ago, i literally saw my online reputation be destroyed
    by yelp for not accepting their advertisement proposal.

    In the very beginning i thought it was a coincidence
    that my good reviews disappeared and in the end, my customer service is not
    that good anyways – like most 3-people business like mine, but lately i found a
    website that describes the same problem i am facing replicated to dozens and
    dozens of small businesses across the country.

    In a nutshell, good reviews, encouraging people to buy from
    the small business in question evaporate, being “filtered” to a
    secluded part of the website, while reviews that even question my integrity as
    a person are bright and shiny on my business description. The selection for which
    review stays up and which one is “filtered” is not revealed by yelp,
    which makes it a pretty shady deal.

    Allow me to tell you a little bit about my business: we are
    a total of three families depending on it; in spite of having a 1 year old son
    and my wife being currently fighting cancer, i still work about 60 hours a week
    and i just can’t take the sort of punch this company is applying to struggling
    businesses like mine anymore.

    I certainly do not expect a senator to start questioning a
    “millions-of-dollars” business based on the struggle of a small
    business like mine, but when you put together the amount of people that suffer
    in the hands of this “secret” way to qualify reviews that will show
    in the company description, it certainly adds up.

    I am forwarding you the link for an online forum where
    people describe the horror they are going through after turning down Yelp’s
    advertisement offer, just like mine: http://pixsym.com/blog/reputation-management/yelp-extortion-the-lawsuits-dismissed-are-they-back-at-it-in-2012

    Again, i am not naive (although more than ever i am
    considering myself stupid for insisting in having a small business and generate
    jobs instead of just joining the lines for freebies from the federal
    government) and i know my senator won’t pick up a fight unless there are a lot
    of claims from other businesses, but i do guarantee you: anywhere you knock,
    you will find horror stories about Yelp and it simply seems like there is
    nowhere else to claim for help. It is definitely time to start asking questions
    about the criteria used for reviews filtering, and why so many people denying
    advertisement are being so badly hurt all of a sudden. And this is the type of
    question they will ignore unless it is coming from Washington or a court. Well,
    mostly everything i make is paid either for bills or taxes, so i cannot afford
    a lawyer to do that, hence my letter for my Senator.

    I appreciate your time. Some feedback would definitely be
    much appreciated.
    Now do your part! Contact your senator’s office.

  • Jim

    Yelp defenders say they do not practice extortion. Right now if I go to my review page, right under my business description is an add for my competitor. The Yelp sales staff told me that if I advertise with them this will not longer happen. I would call that extortion!

  • Jason

    We’ve had all the same issues on good reviews being pulled, etc. The even harder issue is that we have (a small minority of) customers that basically lie to try to get refunds. Because we run a mid-size regional construction business, they are often angling for hundreds in some cases thousands of dollars. In one case, we had a customer who claimed we did not pull a permit (which we had and which was on record with the city) burn us online. We reached out, called the city to get the permit extended on his behalf and had the city inspect it the next day. The customer then burned us because he “told us” he could not receive mail (because he can’t read it due to medical issues) and that we should not have mailed him the follow up info. We then pulled the (recorded) call and there was no mention of this. Anyway, he went on a five page rant, in the interim threatening lawsuits, harassed three separate employees…and in both e-mails and calls, he made it clear he wants money. I contacted Yelp and they basically shrugged their shoulders.
    http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=9sSGLiYLxwmOGU9NQPNsyA

  • Eric

    Yelp has filtered all but one of my 5 star reviews, leaving one review at the top from an individual who has clearly taken the unfortunate liberty of embellishing a negative experience in all of their reviews. The individual threatened my staff and was dismissed with a refund yet Yelp refuses to investigate or even acknowledge the situation(s). This sick individual has gone as far as to blame another business for her daughters death publicly on Yelp but Yelp chooses not to filter reviewers like this.

    It is unfortunate for a small business to be forced to pay for Yelp service to get a fair shake and not have the choice to be excluded from Yelp all together.

  • JOEY

    I HAVE AN IDEA! LET’S ALL YELP EACH OTHER NOW ALL POSITIVE REVIEWS AND SEE HOW MANY STICK AND HOW MANY GO AWAY? : )

  • Skin Guru

    I own a small spa business in Portland, Oregon. I was constantly in contact with yelp for the fact that all of my reviews would disappear. I was told by the sales person that he has no control over any of the filtering( I might believe that if i didn’t know that they had their software designed so that gives them full administrative control). However, i finally caved after a year and half and wouldn’t know know it as soon as i signed an agreement to give them 350.00 a month ( mind you my rent is 500.00 for my studio) suddenly my reviews started showing up. It is really sad that this company can hold small businesses hostage and charge such astronomical prices. There should be another class action law suite filed and this company should have to pay back all the extortionate money they have taken from businesses.

  • KnuckleUp Fitness

    Yelp is the devil! Seriously though,
    my company has been victim to their “extortion” for quite some time
    now. We have run the gamut with Yelp. We were contacted by Yelp and asked to
    advertise with them. We were told that it would increase our visibility, keep
    our competitors from being able to advertise on our place page and help to hide
    some of the negative reviews we had. While I was doing my research I noticed
    that we had all of these reviews that were filtered, about ¾ of our reviews
    actually. When I inquired with the Yelp sales rep he explained to me that Yelp
    has a “secret” algorithm that weeds out the reviews that are solicited etc,
    etc, etc.

    Well, it’s funny, but I happen to
    know several of the people that posted those reviews, they came and proudly
    informed me of their doing so and were excited to tell the Yelp community about
    their experiences with our company. How
    did they find out that we were listed on Yelp and know that they could review
    us there you might ask? Because Yelp sent us a “Review us on Yelp” sticker that
    has been on the front door of my gyms for several years now, we also have a
    link to Yelp on our website, that we generated with the help of Yelp, telling
    our site’s visitors to go to Yelp as well. Problem is, NONE of those reviews
    have made it to the unfiltered place page, well none of the positive one’s
    anyways.

    • KnuckleUp Fitness

      I told Eric, the Yelp Ads sales rep,
      to kick rocks. I had no interest in advertising with a company that acted in
      such a manor. His whole pitch was how Yelp was word of mouth advertising, but
      online. The problem is, Yelp was silencing our word of mouth.

      To date we have 11 unfiltered
      reviews on Yelp, with only 3 being allowed to stay unfiltered since September
      of 2011 when we turned down Yelp’s offer to help us fix our listing. Of those,
      two are 1 star and one is a 3 star review. Our current ranking is 3 stars. We
      have a total of 37 filtered reviews, more than ¾ of our total. 14 of those reviews
      have been written in the same 12 month period from last Sept till now and of
      those 14, only 1 is less than 5 stars, it is 4 stars. In fact, out of those 37
      filtered reviews, 26 of them are 5 stars, going back over the past several
      years as early as Nov 2007.

      I repeat, in the same 12 months
      since we turned down Yelp offer to advertise, we have had 14 reviews filtered,
      13 of those being 5 star review and one 4 star. 14 filtered, with only 3
      unfiltered and every 5 star review being filtered. See a pattern here?

      • KnuckleUp Fitness

        Only four of our non- filtered
        reviews are 5 stars, with many of the negative reviews referring to other
        KnuckleUp locations that were owned by a completely different company and has
        ZERO to do with our business. Others complain outright lies, but I digress.

        I did some research and look at what
        our competitors that pay to advertise are ranked at and how many of their
        reviews are filtered. The three that are my direct competition, all who
        advertise with Yelp each have 15 reviews, two of them have 4 star rankings and
        one has a 4.5. The interesting part is the number of filtered reviews they
        have: 6, 19 and 20. None of those three have near the ¾ filtered as we do, all
        advertise with Yelp, all have a larger percentage of their bad reviews
        filtered.

        As a small business owner,
        struggling to get by, Yelp is doing its best to keep it a struggle. Either we
        advertise, or if we refuse we deal with the lower star ranking on their site
        and the advertising of our competitors “higher” ranked gyms on our place page.
        Well I will tell you this, I don’t like bullies. Yelp will never get a penny
        from me.

  • Slav Z

    From the customer/user standpoint Yelp is OK for restaurants. Sometimes for services like tires or upholstery. As a customer I love it. As a business owner owner I hate it with all my guts. They removed 7 positive reviews for my business. No logic in type of reviews, number of friends, activity, etc. They claim that reviewers need to active members of yelp community. What a BS. Many suggested I should start advertise with them and then the reviews will miraculously reappear. No way. I get my clients from other sources. Verified and with clear policies. I also know of many businesses that give clients perks and gifts and discounts if they rave on yelp about them….on regular basis. That’s kind of cheating, right?

  • Frederick Ferguson

    I started using Yelp strictly to improve our google page rank–i don’t care about the reviews per se. Eventually we got contacted by a very aggressive Yelp sales rep to pay a minimum of $350/month for advertising. Since we were already getting Yelp ads through our Google Adwords display network (which we only pay $50/month for) I didn’t see any point in paying Yelp. Now we are getting fake reviews from competitors some of whom have admitted in writing to what they did. And no Yelp won’t remove or filter obviously fake reviews. I am really going into damage control mode now. I am wondering if I should start removing content from Yelp to try to move the Yelp listing off of the first page of Google. Any ideas?

  • Kel

    I’ve just started another business and got 2 real 5 star reviews. When I told them I would think about the advertisement of $300 per month to Yelp, I figured a retaliation should be on the way. Surely enuff…One star review from someone that has never tried our biz. Does it not sound fishy?

    Review from Christopher N.

    18 friends 5 reviews

    Christopher N.

    Fountain Valley, CA

    9/7/2012

    This
    place barely opened. I find it hard to believe that JULIE actually tried
    all the donuts and “delicious” burgers at this location.

    I’m all
    for support when it comes to a new place but friends or customers that
    come often to the original location can’t review a NEW location based
    off of the original one. Come on now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patty.w.sullivan.3 Patty White Sullivan

    We are a dog walking company near Boston MA and yup we are in the same boat!! Beyond frustrated at this point. We had just started out in 2010 and one of our new customers told us she loved our service so much she was going to put a review on Yelp. So we were very excited to get this great attention.

    Shortly after the phone calls started coming in. Did we want to sign up for Yelp Advertising? We were not making enough money at that point to do much in the way of advertising so declined each and every time they called. I remember one time they called and we were told “what your business doesn’t need advertising?”.

    Then a few months later as we were still trying to get our business off the ground and only still had a handful of clients a “bad” review showed up on Yelp for us. The woman identified herself as “Kitty” (pun intended?) and said basically that she used our service and we did not do the work performed but cashed her check and ran for it.

    SOOOOO….we shot back immediately as we had never even heard of “Kitty” and had not even had one customer in the town she said she lived in! Needless to say “Kitty” never responded. We have repeatedly tried to get this illegitimate review removed from our Yelp Profile but have not had any response from them.

    Our business is growing due to our great service and reliability. We have many testimonials on our website and now have customers wanting to post reviews on Yelp and now they are being filtered!! We currently have two 5-star reviews that are hidden unless you enter a captcha.

    As we are a “baby” business this is so so so unfair!! How can they damn us without cause!

  • Pingback: How Legit Are Yelp’s Reviews? « MGE: Marketing

  • teacherkerry

    A few weeks ago I wrote a positive review of a place that I tend to frequent by my house. As a former English teacher, I took the time to really think about my word choice and the details that I wanted to discuss. I guess it was written too well, because I checked back in with Yelp last week and my comment had been filtered. I looked through all the reasons why comments are filtered and I could not figure out which category my review fell into. For that reason, I wrote the folks at Yelp not only asking for an explanation, but also explaining to them that I will never take time out of my busy day to write a review on their stinking website. I am going to sound over the top here, but I felt quite violated that they decided to toss my review to the side. Sigh.

  • notimpressed

    a facebook page and an online petition are not “proof” that yelp is extorting people. it is proof that people will repeat whatever they hear, but they are morons who can’t read or comprehend yelp’s filter FAQ.

    • frank

      There is no algorithm. Yelps filter is their sales department.

  • Body Shop in Lemon Grove

    same her i’ve had my body shop opened for afew years now and have great customers and my family is really trusted here in Lemon Grove, CA in San Diego County, and thats what happened Yelp took out all the good reviews and left only the bad ones. It’s like mafia extortion over the net, in Mexico it’s common to extort businessess but I didn’t know the US supports this practice legally here in the states (after having dismissed the lawsuit against yelp twice) how knows maybe that Judge is out on some luxurious vacation by now and cant be reached for comment.

  • TiredofYelp

    I have a different experience with Yelp. I actually had a good experience with yelp as a business owner until about June 2012. Long story short, Yelp contacted me in June to purchase advertising (as many of you mentioned) however, I signed the contract and was promised 800 ads for about $300/month. I was told I would get an account manager to set everything up. I signed the contract and 2 weeks later had not received a call from the account manager. So I called the salesperson again, and they told me that they now only could give me 550 ads for the same price because they had to switch my business to a different category (even though I had already signed the contract for 800 ads). They sent me a new contract for 550 ads. I signed that contract. Another couple weeks went by and never received an account manager again. I called Simon (the salesperson) and he said Yelp couldn’t guarantee the 550 ads and that I wouldn’t be charged.

    My gripe with Yelp is that I signed 2 contracts with them and they did not deliver on either one. More importantly THEY DID NOT CONTACT ME to tell me they couldn’t deliver their end of the contract. Also, signing a contract for 800 ads then when I call you to find out why my account is not setup you tell me I can now only get 550 ads is bullshit.

    Ironically, the way I found this forum is because I started a 2nd company. I had a launch party to introduce my service. Several people left reviews after the launch party. And gradually reviews got filtered until now it says I have 0 reviews. Really frustrating. I’ve been trying to understand the filter, but there doesn’t seem to be much logic to it.

    For instance, if the idea of the filter is to weed out fake or solicited reviews then why is it that the same user can have some reviews filtered and others not? On other words is yelp saying that yelper, “Mary” would leave real reviews for some businesses and fake reviews for others? And under what logic can yelp distinguish between when Mary decides to leave credible reviews vs. when she would leave fake reviews?

    It is my experience that legitimate, unsolicited reviews get filtered more often than not. And fake or unfounded reviews or reviews that have nothing to do with the actual service remain.

  • nikiD

    Got our first negative review a week ago the 12th, talked with the guy about the review apologized for what had happened he stated he was a little in the wrong to and should not have left a negative review until we spoke. He took down the review, that day, the next day the 13th my husband spoke with the girl from Yelp that called us everyday and told her we would not be advertising with them, very nicely. The negative review was already gone after they spoke….but it returned the following day the 14th, yet the post was still dated as being written on the 12th….they are scamers and need to be stopped!

  • Steven H.

    Steven H. Director at California Homepro- a leading home improvement company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Yelp removes our positive reviews from our customers and posts phony negative reviews from non-customers and competitors. Yelp has no integrity and is only after a buck.

  • Shadi

    Have you seen the pictures on Yelp’s listing on Yelp? Just saw a few,
    pictures of employees you can tell they were hand picked, I don’t think
    normal good people would want to work for Yelp! There is one picture of
    this “Yelps Rules” wrote in the sands! This alone shows the mind set of these inhuman
    people! They believe they have they are ruling our lives! They are
    aware of destroying lives and they are proud of it! Hoe creepy is that!

    People in over seas pull down dictators by putting their lives on the
    line, why can’t we have a organized demonstration to bring light and
    attention to this?

  • Pita

    We did have YELP call us to buy advertising.
    I starched the guys shorts letting him know that it was bologna that they are hiding my hard earned reviews to begin with. They only show 2 of my reviews (I think there are 14 “filtered”) and have for the past 2 years. When I wrote in to the CEO via HIS YELP page he sent my nice and courteous note to Customer Service. “Summer” referred me AGAIN to the video they have and the document explaining their system.
    What a disappointment. The way we can handle this is by 1) not using their services at all… I noted that my new iPhone update yesterday (19 Sep 2012 6.0 (10A403)) mapping app now ONLY uses YELP as points to search. And even there when I typed “exercise” in “Simi Valley” my business didn’t even show up but our competitors did. So download the GOOGLE app for mapping and use it only! Don’t use YELP and spread the word so other people know their systems are not dependable for an honest (which MOST OF US ARE) representation.

  • Sandygal7

    There are Customers who try to use yelp to extort businesses to get free rides or perks.

    I think that online reviewers should have a rule that if you even mention that you are going to post a bad review to a company online, your review should be deleted.

    Any Customer that says gimme this or that or I will post a bad review online, is unscrupulous for doing so in the first place. Even if said company does cave in, that review would not be honest because it no longer reflects the genuine behavior of the company in question and if reviews are supposed to help Consumers choose, reviews should be done without malice, some degree of reasonabilty, responsibility and even accountability by the Writer who wields this power.

    A genuine review should happen with no prior notice to the company so that there is no possibilty of a motive by the Customer. This is a hard thing to post because we live in a society where the Customer’s always right and the poor defrauded Consumer against against the big bad corporate monster has become our Mantra and God forbid a company tries to defend themselves we are all “appalled” , that is until some of us become Business Owners and we realize that Consumers can behave like Monsters too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonnathan.poster Jonnathan Poster

      Our business has been extorted numerous times. We were forced to give hundreds of dollars in goods and services to have a negative review taken down. Businesses have no choice, because Yelp is a powerful search engine.

  • Axel4q

    There are Customers who try to use yelp to extort businesses to get free rides or perks.

    I think that online reviewers should have a rule that if you even mention that you are going to post a bad review to a company online, your review should be deleted.

    Any Customer that says gimme this or that or I will post a bad review online, is unscrupulous for doing so in the first place. Even if said company does cave in, that review would not be honest because it no longer reflects the genuine behavior of the company in question and if reviews are supposed to help Consumers choose, reviews should be done without malice, some degree of reasonabilty, responsibility and even accountability by the Writer who wields this power.

    A genuine review should happen with no prior notice to the company so that there is no possibility of a motive by the Customer.

    While we do not want to hinder first amendment rights, we should be careful not to facilitate crime. This is a hard thing to post because we live in a society where the Customer’s always right and the poor defrauded Consumer against against the big bad corporate monster has become our Mantra and God forbid a company tries to defend themselves, we are all “appalled” , that is until some of us become Business Owners and we realize that Consumers can behave like Monsters too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonnathan.poster Jonnathan Poster

    Yelp filtered 90% of our reviews. But when we get a one star review they leave it up. We don’t even know who the person is, doesn’t show up in our records. Any competitor or former employee can post a fake review it stays up. While real reviews are filtered because Yelp loves negative reviews. Negative reviews make the site seem more legit and drive hits. The filter is broken and should be stopped. Allow all reviews to stay up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pakldr1 Brian P. Manning

    I believe Yelp is a FRAUD! Earlier this year, I sent a few emails to my clients asking them, if they felt so inclined, to write a review somewhere on the web remarking about their experiences with my company. Over the next few weeks, up to 10 reviews were written and posted on Yelp. Within 2-3 weeks of those reviews being posted on Yelp – Yelp pulled EVERY ONE OF THEM and said they violated the Review Filter guidelines (which I read and are so vague that one could never understand how to avoid this). It has taken me years to build a great reputation and this newbie called Yelp decides on their own that they should pull ALL of my reviews. I even had clients contact me asking what is wrong and why Yelp pulled their review. One client even re-posted her review and that also got pulled. All these reviews were 100% honest and written by the individual client in their own words. It is not negatively impacting my business because my competitors are NOT having their reviews pulled! I hate YELP!

  • Michael

    I have been in business for 33+ years. I have never seen anything like Yelp. Has my business been perfect? No, but you don’t last this long by completely sucking, yet Yelp would have you believe that we do. Yelp has filtered every single positive review we have received. They have published some negative reviews of questionable provenance. I would love to be able to recuse my business from being listed. Yelp allows people to hide behind a veil of anonymity and slander people and businesses with no concern for recrimination. They have opened a Pandora’s Box of abuse. meanwhile, sites like Trip Adviser manage to similarly publish reviews without the need to CENSOR.I repeat…CENSOR!! That’s exactly what is happening.

    • Sam

      Get to your local congress rep. Start to get with other businesses.

  • Just Sayin’

    Shameless, aren’t you, Amy?

  • olie

    Very bad. Yelp doesn’t respond to the emails. I can’t delete account I can’t fix anything. I can’t call them as they don’t have customer service. hey don’t delete double comments from the same non-customers who is just messing with small bushiness.
    e.

  • eternallight08

    If the case was dismissed with prejudice, then we need to open a different case. Since we can’t prove they filter based on whether businesses advertise with them, the suit should be about Freedom of speech. A BUSINESS owner cannot take down their page from Yelp. Yelp claims that people have a right to have their voices heard based on free speech. Well they can’t have it both ways. They can’t FORCE businesses to have a listing with them that is NOT removable based on free speech, and yet at the same time RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REMOVE reviews they deem wrong in some way. It’s insane and unbelievable that this is going on.
    My business has over 15 5 star reviews. Yelp currently displays 6 reviews including the only 2 poor reviews. So when you look at my business you see four 5 stars and two 2 and 3 stars. So the ratio looks bad. Where as the true ratio is 15 5 stars to 2 2 and 3 stars. A much much much different ratio. I am therefore being misrepresented by Yelp, and I want to scream it is so frustration, and illegal!!!

  • YoAmoNYC

    My boyfriend’s tattoo shop has had 15 reviews on Yelp, all 5 stars, because he happens to offer an exceptional product (what a concept). Since turning down Yelp advertising in July, all 15 (100%!!!!) of his reviews have been filtered. Even though in most cases his reviewers have left reviews of other businesses and those reviews have stuck. No filtration elsewhere; just his business. WTF is this??

    • Sam

      Get together with other buiness owner. Go to your local representative. Or sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company. Fight back.

  • jos

    yelp has to go out of business. extortion is not even being hidden its out in the open. I have spoken with several other businesses 1 of them had to pay for advertising because she was about to lose her shop. the courts made a decision not to allow anymore law suits against yelp for extortion. that Judge needs to be fired Idiot. I bet he has 5 stars on Yelp.
    I cannot even get any more comment even filtered. the 3 I . have under comments are from over 1 year ago 1 good 2 bad. 28 filtereqd only 1 negative. the rest 4 and 5 stars. although many more comments since April not even listed in filtered.

  • Ray J.

    Yes it happened to me same way. One bad review still there. Six good reviews removed and disappeared. Very strange indeed. Perhaps if I join and pay the monthly fee all the good reviews will stay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnCrawfordCompany John Crawford

    I listed my business on Yelp. Shortly after i listed the information about my business I was called to place an ad with yelp. I did try some advertising with them but had poor results. However now when i go to my Yelp listing i notice right below my business name is an ad for the competition. I sell blinds and drapes. There is, 90% of the time, an ad offering home decorating by the competition. I kinda feel like I’m being blackmailed. “Advertise with us or we’ll clutter up your listing with the competition who are paid advertisers”. I’d like to remove my listing completely but cannot find any info on how to do that.
    John Crawford Company

  • Anna

    Yelp only filters good reviews. Out of 5 reviews for my business only the 2-bad ones remain. One of the bad reviews wasn’t written by a client and that was even stated in the review, yet this review wasn’t filtered (?). I sent a flag to Yelp on this, but the review still remains. My good reviews were written by clients that deserve to be heard just like the “yelpers” out there that complain about everything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samyamy.bouzaglo Samy Amy Bouzaglo

    We like to call them the “Camel Toe Mafia” just a bunch Pussies hiding behind a computer screen. Or working for YELP. Amy & Samy Bouzaglo ABC Amy’s Baking Co. & Pizzeria.

    • Sam

      If you have told them to stop calling, then Sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company. Fight back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samyamy.bouzaglo Samy Amy Bouzaglo

    We like to call them the “Camel Toe Mafia” just a bunch Pussies hiding behind a computer screen. Or working for YELP. Amy & Samy Bouzaglo ABC Amy’s Baking Co. & Pizzeria.

  • Thomas Fleming

    When we first opened the restaurant we got a few bad reviews right off the bat. A week later I got a call from “Corey @ Yelp” He asked me if we would want to be “sponsored” at $300 a month. I politely told him no thanks. He said “Okay……..” in a very ominous tone. Now we have 38 filtered mostly positive reviews and 13 almost all bad reviews…

    • Sam

      Get corey last name .Sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company. Fight back.

  • http://twitter.com/zynkin zynkin

    it seems the whole world is about “extortion”..I know how it feels to be slated and thats even before my business launched..Hows that for a kicking…BUT …the solution is we have to fight and believe in what we are doing and maybe a fair system for all small businesses is just around the corner! I must admit I also have a problem with reviews as they are becoming more untrustworthy as time goes on. Yes they can be informative but ones opinion is totally different to anthers…each to their own , I suppose.A good days work to earn a buck has really become a good weeks worth of work! Keep fighting for what you believe in!

  • ScottLily

    I concur with ‘jutefly’, ‘CM’ and ‘stephmarks77′, same exact thing is now happening to my business! We’ve had over 100 legitimate reviews, most of them 5 stars, and now 22 of them have been filtered! This is such BS, to say the least. Needs to be dealt with, soon!

  • John

    In the last 90 days I have been personally involved in two reviews my company received. One positive and one negative. We do not advertise with yelp. The good review was filtered and the negative review remains unfiltered.

  • Little Guy VS. Corporate GIANT

    Yelp is currently dragging my business through the mud too. We have a lot of positive reviews from our clients that are all filtered, while the one bad review sits right there on top of the page and on the google search. Yelp = part of what’s wrong with our economy.

  • Crystal Crosby

    For the first time, this weekend I created a Yelp Check-In special. They give so little space to define the terms, and their instructions to those “checking in” to get their “deal” so vague that it resulted in a lukewarm (nearly negative) review & I quickly decided to remove it. The ad read “Purchase one of our premium sandwiches with a side & get a slice of pie for only a buck.” (I had 6 characters to spare). Now, most folks would understand that to redeem the deal, you need to buy lunch from us & tell us you want the pie offer. It was too difficult for some to comprehend–one woman didn’t even read it and thought it was just pie for a buck, no purchase necessary. Another presented the coupon after they had finished and were about to leave, which created brief confusion as to whether they had made the prerequisite purchase–and they were upset with us! . At this point I went online, and I was unable to access the special to either rewrite it or take it down, and had to call Yelp. A rep called me at the number I provided, and I explained that I couldn’t access the Check-in deal feature. She started to tell me where to look for it, and when I realized the option was no longer part of the list in the box on the upper left of the screen under our business name & told her, she recapitulated & said that Yelp had removed that feature. Fishy. She then tried selling me an advertising package, to which I flatly said we could not afford 300+ per month, and she said she suddenly had to get to a meeting. More Fishy. Now after reading about the trials & tribulations of others on this site, I’m halfway expecting Yelp to pull some of the same positive-review-pulling crap on my business because I wouldn’t buy advertising. Poop!

  • jmorse28

    I have a client who I had to file a formal complaint against with the police. He then proceeded to post BLATANT LIES on Yelp and Insider Pages. He had threatened to do so, so I WARNED Yelp ahead of time. I’m still waiting to hear back from them. Interestingly enough, there are 5 5-star reviews and the only ones that show are the BAD ones (2). This guy in particular HAS NO OTHER REVIEWS ON YELP yet they told me that the others were hidden because they weren’t regular users!! NEITHER IS THIS GUY!! But they posted his!!! If anyone wants to contact me to see if we can get something done about this, please email me at jmorse28@gmail dot com It’s bad enough we have to deal with dishonest people, but YELP helps them!!!

  • jmorse28

    I just started this Facebook Page. LET’S DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!!!! http://www.facebookcom/stopyelp

  • Natalee

    Yelp is so unethical. I had 5 great reviews, yes all from real customers, and those reviews were visible until I got one negative review and it wasn’t even from a customer. After that one negative review, all of the positive reviews were “filtered” hidden from my page. Yelp even put that the negative review was the FIRST to review, which is not true! There were reviews before that one. Not sure why they take every single positive review and leave the negative one all by itself. If the positive ones were not filtered in the beginning, then why now? Yelp sucks!! They don’t show all of the thousands of negative reviews on their own page. They show reviews from customers that are all positive. Why not play fair Yelp? Yelp sucks!!

  • Johnny

    We received a fake review on our business Yelp page containing libel and slanderous statements about us personally. We have written Yelp many times they write back saying that it seems to be a review containing an actual business transaction. It completely discredits Yelp in my eyes. I see them calling businesses trying to get them on their $350/mo promotion package. It sounds like extortion and them holding us small business owners over the coals. Isn’t this how Citysearch started to fall off the map with similar tactics? Sounds like whatever new comes around they tweak a few of these things and Yelp becomes irrelevant.

  • Henry

    I had with yelp an agreement with yelp to pay $540 pr/month for sex months for advertising. After a few weeks i realized that they do not promote my business as they promised to me so I canceled and moved on. since than all my 4 or five stars reviews goes directly to filter while the one star or two stars stays at least if not for good for few months on the top of the review page. I think yelp is a Mifia for small businesses like me and I am 100% sure I am not the only one.

  • Laure

    I’m
    a consumer leaving reviews about my experience with businesses. I recently
    posted a review on Yelp about a business I particularly like in my area because
    they systematically deliver great customer service, only to find out that my
    review did not appear on Yelp because it had been filtered! I
    watched Yelp’s video about your filtering reviews, showing how their system is
    great because it “leaves the less trustworthy reviews out”. How
    insulting is that to reviewers?

    I’ve
    been on Yelp for several years, and have always left legitimate reviews (25 so
    far). I’m not sure they realize the commitment reviewers make in bothering to
    leave reviews on their site. I always take time to leave as useful and
    informative reviews as possible. To have them dismissed is really confusing and
    upsetting.

    I
    checked the reviews I left so far, and noticed a disturbing trend when it comes
    to my positive reviews, especially with regards to 4 businesses:

    -
    vacation rentals: 21 reviews left, but 10 filtered including mine

    -
    hairdresser: 86 reviews left, but 78 filtered (!) including mine

    -
    car repair: 18 reviews left, but 11 filtered including mine

    -
    mechanic: 88 reviews left, but 74 filtered (!) including mine.

    Is
    Yelp still racketing businesses into buying “protection” memberships?
    What’s their filtering policy, really, if not blatant business extortion and disregard for their users? The above are merchants I care about,
    and to have my repeat customer feedback dismissed by Yelp only makes me
    question the credibility of their site and ratings. A feeling I intend to share
    widely.

  • yoel

    I have to say that I used to love Yelp! But now I am so disappointed from their horrible service.
    Just like other hundreds of businesses I wanted to remove my business out of Yelp.
    And this is why.
    I have 17 reviews of Yelp that has been filtered, now what Yelp is saying that the reviews are not meeting their standards or something.
    But the one star review they left for everyone to see. I know that all of my reviews are coming from real customers and the reason why because we are sending them a gift card every time they do. This is how we are marketing our reviews. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with mixed reviews at all!!! This is a part of having a working business; I am not asking to take the bad reviews out. I just want the all the reviews to show even if they are good or bad. This is really unfair for businesses.
    Even when you try to talk to them and ask them my they are filtering good and bad reviews they don’t answer you.

    About 3 weeks ago someone from the marketing team of Yelp called our office and asked if we would like to be a part of Yelp advertisement, ( over$300.00 ) so I took the call and ask the young lady, “if I will enroll with you can you help me with my filtered reviews?” and the answer was: Yes!!!
    I would love to the media and share my experience with Yelp team unless they will remove my business from their site or bring back my filtered reviews.

    By the way the ” 1 star review” we have is someone we have never ever moved!!! and we have a proof that we showed to Yelp!!!

  • langyu

    yelp filter so sick. they filter all my store’s good reviews and display bad reviews.
    I don’t trust on yelp.

  • naykel

    I totally feel your pain. It is not only extorsion with Yelp, but black mail for some consumers. I have people calling me for product 18 months past warranty and telling me if I dont give them the parts for free, they are going to put bad reviews on Yelp. I stand my ground and two hours later the guy has posted bad stuff about our company. I also have competitors posting bad postings, language you would nt use around anyone. I cant even repeat it. Where is Yelps screaning on that type of stuff. I go as far to post my personal cell phone on Yelp and I have over 30,000 customers just trying to prove I want to give more that excellent service. How many owners are willing to go this far to prove they give good servie. I have 31 reviews in the filtered ben and only 2 bad postings showing. HELP!!

  • Bill Krenz

    Actually I really don’t care about Yelp. I had one Bridezilla that lied about everything because of her drunk mom’s request. I had many positive reviews written and still they were filtered. Yelp in my opinion will go out of business because of poor relationship between consumer and advertiser. Yelp should have have a policy to allow an advertiser to resolve an issue within 48 hours. So Yelp’s Review process is just going to hurt them more than doing any good. If Yelp was a positive company they would would have had a solution. I thank Yelp for being retarded because we have developed a far more superior business model that’s going to put Yelp out of business. While keeping consumers and advertisers happy. So Yelp!!! Thank you for creating a new competitor for 2013. And for the record…I enjoy my 1 and only negative motivation :)

  • doomedby2020

    I have a construction business with only myself as the employee. Recently I got my one and only review, a negative one from a nutty home owner. 23 years remodeling kitchens and baths entirely myself. This one negative review is killing me. I fear if I respond I will only make things worse, if I have my happy clients write a review, at best it could only make things a tad better… until the next irrational client gives a review.
    My issue is that I never asked for this listing, and Yelp has recently declined to delete it. Apparently its legal to list any business they want but how can it be legal for them to allow reviews at my expense and for their profit????

    • Sam

      If you have told them to stop calling, then Sue them for harrassment. Get A name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company. Fight back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericatherealtor Erica Rose Siegel

    I would like to believe this is not true, however it is very strange that I had several positive reviews on our company’s yelp page from past clients and all but on has disappeared. I did hear that if the person writing the review is not a consistent user of Yelp, then they remove it as Yelp believes they were asked to do this and they are not routine reviewer and do no think this is a valid review. Well guess what Yelp?! I did ask these people to do these reviews and they took time out of their busy day to do so and their opinion matters and so does my reputation. As with searching for just about any product, or service most people look online so please, Yelp can allow my raving fans to voice their opinion as I worked hard to earn their trust! Thank you! – A very hard working Realtor

  • Warren Lee

    There is no recourse but legal action. After canceling our ad campaign with Yelp! all the good reviews were shunted beyond the veil of the filter. In fact, a negative review that used slightly racist language to describe the behaviour of one of our employees is still displayed at the top of our frontpage. We got a hold of the number of a Yelp! employee (they don’t have a customer service number and they ignore customer service tickets) and she promised us that we cannot reinstate our ad campaign. She didn’t even attempt to direct us to sales or support. Oh, we’re Sunset Sewing and Vacuum Center by the way.

  • Jason

    The extent that consumers use Yelp for extortion is really under emphasized. There is a lot of press about Yelp burying reviews but I think they also often knowingly enable fraud.

    We run a medium sized home services business. We are not perfect but we do have A ratings from Angie’s list in four of our five locations. Anyway, because our average ticket is higher than a restaurant (about $1,200 on average) we regularly get reviews that are real customers who are lying to try to extort money and will say anything to do it.

    The most recent – which would be comic if we didn’t feel that the one star hurt us so much – the reviewer has a long rant and claims we are abusers of the disabled because he is blind and he told us not to send him his documentation in the mail. Well, we record our calls and not only is he lying…but the amazing thing is he’s got a current rant ON YELP as a customer of a DRIVING SCHOOL (!?!?!?). We point this out to Yelp and they just shrug (although we can almost swear we can hear them smirking…). Customer feels they should get a large refund…

    Now, I want to note, that we do often use Yelp to identify service problems and address them. So, there are reviewers that have legitimate complaints and we try to address them.

    But Yelp in particular enables people – in part due to their anonymity – to extort.

    We generally don’t hesitate to refund customers when we have customer service issues.

    But, should we payoff customers that blatantly lie on Yelp? I wish there was more press about this because the size of the problem is totally under estimated and growing.

  • toti

    Unfair
    practices by Yelp should be punished by law. The only reason why they would win
    the case against so many business owners who complain is becasuse they were
    able to pay for the right lawyers as supposed to the small business owner who
    can’t. Or perhaps since they are in
    “the extortion business” maybe they extorted judges too!!. Who in the
    right mind would ever allow victory to a mass extortion online system. It makes
    me wonder. I am sure they will fall sooner or later, and hope the same for
    those who allow them to win the case. Its like setting free a mass murder.
    Purely unjust!!!

  • aaron

    it is a sad fact but yes they do call you and all stories here are correct
    they removing ur good ones and if u pay the will put them back at the end of the day its all abut $ or pay to play best think to do is just to ignour it and Kipp going ,look at all the good ones you did not on one or 2 so call not good also most of them are from ur competitor

    • Sam

      If you have told them to stop calling, then Sue them for harrassment. Get A name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company.

      • JS

        This is your response to everything. Have YOU actually done this?

  • gary

    we have 2 bad reviews on their for 2 years now. NONE of the positive reviews make it up. That wimp Jeremy Stoppleman needs to go.No one will even call you back.

  • Krystal Wallinger

    I HATE YELP!
    I was harassed by the Yelp sales team to start advertising and as soon as I did
    I suddenly had two extremely negative reviews on the same day and my 5 star
    reviews mysteriously started getting filtered. Of course when I asked Yelp
    about this they say that their filter system is random. Because I was
    advertising on Yelp, my company was getting more exposure and this was not
    helping because my ratings were so low. Within two months I stopped advertising
    and was forced to pay the early cancellation fee. One of my reviews on Yelp is
    not from one of our customers and when I ask Yelp to remove it, they refuse.
    Yesterday, one of our customers posted a 5 star review, the next day it was
    filtered. I am thinking that their filter system stuck on my company. Thankfully,
    we have one customer who is a Yelper so his review should be around for a
    while. I find it strange that both of my negative reviewers have only 1 or 2
    reviews that they have posted about companies on Yelp, yet they are still
    showing on my page and affecting my rating and not getting filtered. At the
    same time, all of the great filtered reviews I have, those people have the same
    amount of reviews that they have posted on Yelp, yet they get filtered off my
    page.

    • Sam

      If you have told them to stop calling, then Sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company. But you have to prevail!

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  • Alan

    It is very hard to fight Yelp, but you want to fight them as they do you. believe it or not Yelp has A+ rating with BBB. Just keep on calling, faxing complains, questions how they have this high rating.
    Here is the person responsible on Yelp account, Kim Sharp 510-844-2015, rating regulator at BBB, ask them to re-check Yelp rating. if all of us call (i hope in thousands) they will be force to rate Yelp as it need to C
    this is how we can get back at Yelp

  • Elizabeth

    This is EXACTLY what is going on with my small business and the small business of my fiance. Yelp is nothing but an on-line migraine that is incurable! We have tried so many times to get in touch with them but of course, no answer. I do have their advertisers calling frequently telling me that I NEED their support. I have asked them to stop calling but it is useless. My fiance’s business(restaurant) has 15 five star reviews but NONE of them show. They say that it is all but impossible for a business to have that many great reviews in such a short amount of time and that it seems they are fake. At the same time, they explain that the filter is computer generated. I asked them if the computer contacted any of the reviewers or could taste the food. They did call him for advertising and let him know that for their fee of $499.00 a month, everything would show. Really? They are worthless! They have done even less for my salon. Funny, they always call for purchasing advertising but have yet to answer any of our emails!

    I am happy to know that we are not alone and would LOVE to get together to help stop this. Small business goes through more than enough and this is not what we need. Yelps reviews are a joke and their filters are nonsense. The internet is a forum for people to sound off about whatever they want: good, bad or otherwise. This is just a catalyst for the destruction of small business!

    • Sam

      If you have told them to stop calling, then Sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court. Sue the rep personnaly or the company. Fight back.

  • YelpHater

    I have been in a hate hate relationship with Yelp for over 3, almost 4 years now. We have 139 Reviews on Yelp (88 of them are filtered out). Of the visible reviews 84% are negative, versus 22% of our filtered reviews being negative. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why a review gets filtered either. People with many reviews, friends, and that seem active on the site are being filtered out just as much as people that only leave 1 review. I have tried sending messages to reviewers, attempted to resolve issues- Many are defensive and stand-offish, and act as if they have no desire to have their complaint resolved. When you deal with customers in-store that complain, they are happy to have their problems resolved, so this is odd behavior to me. Even the few people that I have managed to help and resolve their complaint, they refuse to update their reviews. We successfully filed a suit and reached a settlement with a competitor that was posting negative reviews about us, and Yelp provided NO help with this issue at all. We tried their sponsor program or whatever they called it, and they told us that we would see an increase in activity and that being a sponsored person we would have a dedicated team member that could help us navigate the business portal, this did not happen. After we stopped paying for advertising, a flood of negative reviews that had previously been filtered were all of a sudden active reviews again.

  • http://twitter.com/kirkiscool Kirk Shelton

    There was mention of Yelp’s review filter on the news because some lady got sued for $750K. I’d never heard of this filter in my time as a pretty regular yelper so I looked at my friends business page and saw that it was being rated on 3 reviews. Two of them were five star and one of them was a two star, bad review. I could have sworn he had more reviews because he’d mentioned to me a while back that business was doing good and his yelp page was blowing up with good reviews from his customers. When I looked today it said rating based on 3 reviews.

    At the very bottom is a link. It’s light gray text that says (16 filtered). I clicked (because I knew what I was looking for, many wouldnt probably know what it was) and it made me enter a captcha to prove I’m a real person. There I saw 16 more reviews all of which were 5 or 4 star. That one bad review on the main page was the lowest star rating of all of them. Now, how exactly does this “filter” work? I don’t trust it and don’t see how any business can benefit from it. It looks like it filters out reviews by users who have only 1 or 2 reviews. And apparently your worst review (which the user had only 2 reviews) gets automatically calculated on the main page. What the crap is that? Then apparently I’ve heard they call you to get you to sign up for their paid service which will let your profile show more good reviews. That, if true is straight up extortion. On the other side of this is filtering out reviews by inactive users and yelp encouraging use of its’s site (and clicking of its ads) by saying if you engage more, your review will become unfiltered. again, kind of extortion.

    Anyway, who are they to say that this bad review wasn’t a fake? I mean she only had 2 reviews ever. Also who are they to say all those 1 review 5 star reviews aren’t real? I know many businesses that support yelp by getting the window sticker and many people visit yelp maybe that one time to give a good review to that business. Just because they aren’t yelp whores doesn’t mean they are fakers or robots.

    This yelp filter removes the aspect that people can see all of the reviews and make an intelligent choice. It was showing (and ranking on) 3 out of 18 reviews. That’s not right, especially because people also look at how many ratings you’ve gotten. Only 3 people went here? jeez and 2 only of them like it? this place sucks. not TRUE! It falsely portrays businesses, and yea right, 16/18 are fake reviews? SURE!!!

    Here’s the best part, the stupid review filter sucks because my review of his business was totally fake. I did his website for him and set up his yelp page. But I have 70+ reviews, I guess that makes me trustworthy.

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  • Monica

    I absolutely agree with this article! I am in charge of managing the online profile for a very small family owned business, and Yelp “filtered” nearly all of our positive reviews, while posting the ONLY two negative comments we have gotten! It is so frustrating. Then I got a phone call from Yelp saying they will “help clean up” our page for a “nominal fee”!! I was irate. Is there anything we can do to stop this? It’s so unethical, and it’s so hard as it is to manage a small business. The last thing we need is for Yelp to hurt us even further. We work so hard to do the best we can for all our customers, and we have glowing reviews via word of mouth, however people then go check Yelp and are turned off. I absolutely cannot believe more people don’t know about how Yelp is so unethically run. :(

    • Sam

      Sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court.

  • jutty

    I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me. About a year ago I and my partner split up, we had both made BIG mistakes in our relationship. He ended up moving away from me to pursue a new life. I knew in my heart that he would be the only
    one to make me happy. I was relieved when I found your spell casting testimonies winexbackspell@gmail.com email on site and you directed me on what to do and now we are happily living together as before,i am so,so happy. Our wedding date is set for
    Summer 2013.

  • Balance

    I’ve been in business two weeks. This is my life’s dream. Ive worked hard for 20 years to make this place a reality. Im bringing jobs into my community and doing my part to help the economy and I take pride in what I do. So why is it I have 9 legitimate great reviews all filtered and one scathing false review that wont go away? I have already had three appointments cancelled because of Yelp. And the advertising calls are constant. We need Help not Yelp!

    • Sam

      Sue them for harrassment. Get the name , phone number of the rep and trace them back. Get them to court.

  • Toronto Restaurant

    Yes, all my good reviews are removed a few days after they are posted. These are by decent proper customers that loved our food. Funny thing is that yelp approached me 5 months ago to advertise with them. I then showed them a review that was a complete lie and I proved it and yet they would not remove it. I told them I did not want to advertise with a company that will not take off a fake review. Since then all my good reviews have been taken off a couple days after they get posted. Yelp is the worst garbage company there is.. They should be shut down. I also asked to be removed from Yelp and they will not do it. Unreal.

  • vicky

    My husband left me for another woman. He had been seeing her for 3 years. I had no idea. Now he says it was the worst mistake he ever made and he wants to put our family right. He has returned home, I agreed to this because we have two children(6 8) and also I still love him. I wanted to make this work but every time I look at him I know I deserve better. A big part of my problem is the humiliation he has heaped on me. Everywhere I go I can see pity in the eyes of people that know what’s happened. I know I want to end the relationship but I am worried that my children will suffer because I couldn’t learn to deal with it, i saw Dr omo, alteroffiretemple@gmail.com on internet how he help people to handle there problem and i contact his email and explain every thing to Dr omo, alteroffiretemple@gmail.com i tell you after the casting of a love spell things turn around for good thank you once again Dr omo for helping my marriage.

  • http://twitter.com/GetJobInterview Nina Ebert

    I own A Word’s Worth Resume Writing and Career Coaching Service, a business I have owned since 1989. I have 17 fantastic reviews by real life clients and one negative review by a guy I never even serviced. That one negative review is, and has been since July 2011, the only negative review I have received throughout 25 years of owning the business and it is the only review that Yelp showcases. That one negative review is written by a ficticious “Ben D” from Carbondale, IL. It would have been impossible for me to conduct business with this “Ben D” since, at the time, I only conducted in-person interviews and did not work with clients I did not meet with in person. I would like to pursue legal action against Yelp. It really frustrates me that prospective clients are not getting a true picture of A Word’s Worth on Yelp.

  • Yevgeny

    YELP creators – are genius !

    They created way to make millions of dollars without any responsibility.

    If you think that is fraud – blame not YELP creators, but special FILTER.

    What is the filter ? Its secret formula by which negative or positive reviews

    disappear, depends of somebody’s interest. So, Yelp creators NOT responsible

    of filter decision. How is filter work ? Its secret.

    Even, if Yelp stop advertising – current filter do not make any sense.

    Statistically for each 100 happy visitors must be one unhappy.

    Statistically from 100 happy people only 5 make positive article, but

    from 1 unhappy person we have 1 negative article.

    I am agree that it make sense to design filter to sort legitimate

    article to filter out friends, neighbors, relatives, competitors.

    If somebody will create such filter, I think, he will deserve Nobel Price.

    But Filter, designed by Yelp working in opposite direction. Filter

    Formula kept in secret, that nobody can challenge it, but result is

    in opposite direction.

    After filtering out

    5 Legitimate positive articles, on my page I have :

    3 positive NOT legitimate articles from my daughter, son in law, and friend.

    1 negative NOT legitimate article from competitor.

    1 negative legitimate article from unhappy person.

    Its a prove that filter do not work. Its not a filter. It must be put

    off until somebody invent real filter.

    YELP must be closed immediately.

    They ruins more and more businesses every day .

  • http://www.yelpdeceives.com/ Barbara Atkinson

    Let others know how Yelp! deceives by sharing this non-profit site
    through your social media. Share it on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook,
    Twitter, and where ever else you engage with others. Yelp!, for its own
    reasons, filters and deletes legitimate reviews. Let people know that
    posting a review on Yelp! is a waste of time. If Yelp! has filtered or
    deleted your legitimate reviews, share your experience here.

  • maw212

    I’m a step away from hiring a publicist to tell my story and a lawyer to help me put together a class action law suit. HAD IT with Yelp!!!!!!

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  • Doorman

    Am a small biz owner, never had a bad review with yelp but if I didn’t give them money they would that all my reviews down this whent on for 4 years until I gave in now I pay 500 a month to keep my review ,

  • Andrea

    my experience of Yelp has just been exactly what you speak of in your article. They have called me to advertise with them many times and I told them because they filter reviews unfairly, I will never advertise with them. The bottom line is this, I have several reviews that are negative, a few that are not at all true and they continuue to filter all my positive reviews. When I received an email from them several times regarding my complaint which they have no sympathy or remorse whatsoever, they told me that newer reviews had to come in. Well i checked the more than 22 hidden reviews and there were more than 4 new ones that came in being December, 2012 the last and still they continue to hide my positive reviews. They told me perhaps I should use my website to have all the reviews or positive reviews come in and I really told them that their unprofessionalism is out of hand and one day they will regret their performance as I am a firm believe what goes around does come back around known as KARMA. I am in the pursuit of looking for an attorney that will represent me in this case.

  • Tonya

    I too have had this issue with Yelp. We run a small business and lately the phones have stopped ringing. When we look up our business name a one star YELP review pops up. We have many happy clients and asked some of them to post something good and they did, however they are filtered so all we have is this one negative comment. I am so furious, it is so unfair and certainly is not freedom of speech. Something has to be done. I also find it very interesting that it is almost impossible to actually talk to anyone at YELP. If anyone figures out what can be done please let me know! Thanks!

    • appalled in Canada

      Please read Appalled in Canada
      Good Luck
      Also read Tavis Mann

  • S

    I have received 1 1-star review, 1 4-star reviews, 3 5-star reviews, but it is only showing the 1 star review and 4 star review for 2 1/2 stars. It is completely unethical for Yelp to filter the good reviews out and show only the negative ones, only to ultimately hurt our business. We have been in business for 16 years and have built a good reputation, with customers who would continue to come back, but the poor rating shown by Yelp limits our ability to maintain business, let alone grow. It is killing us!

  • Ibble Obble

    If there’s one thing worse than what you’re accusing yelp of, it’s “reputation management”… a despicable, insidious parasitical industry that exists to remove truths and proliferate lies. Like a protection racket, which, ironically, is exactly what you’re levelling at Yelp!

    • http://pixsym.com Samara Hart

      In some cases, I suppose I understand how you could see it that way, as there are several shady companies out there. We are a company that consults with business owners – teaching them to be proactive and keep negative reviews from happening in the first place. Additionally, we help businesses organically turn around their online reputation, when they have negative reviews online. We don’t hide reviews or surpress them. Great customer service – bottom line, is rule one.

      • Sam

        So many testimonies, they can only be right. Samara, how can you go to Church on sundays! How can you teach kids wrong from right?

      • Sam

        This is HARRASSMENT! Maybe we could record the number of times yelp reps call, make a list, and sue their rep personnaly.

        • http://www.facebook.com/rachel.scott.3701 Rachel Scott

          Same issues as Jessica, we run a wedding photography business with plenty of 5-star reviews written by a mix of regular Yelp reviewers and some newbies, but all are filtered out. And I believe it’s because we don’t answer daily marketing calls from Yelp.

        • MckayPhotography

          Jessica,

          David McKay of McKay Photography here. Feel free to email me at mckayphotography@sbcglobal.net. Hopefully some of us banding together can figure something out about the issues with Yelp. No one is saying they have to take down bad reviews, but they should sure make it fair and leave up the good ones!! It is ridiculous to say the least. Also, yesterday, we had some one try to bribe us with a Yelp review. We have had this happen twice now! Give you a good review for….or if you dont want a bad review you will do this…. It is CRAZY!

          • Jim

            We had this happen to us, a Yelp reviewer wanting special treatment or we would be given a bad review. We refuse to give into this type of extortion. She wrote us a bad review.

          • Crystal Crosby

            That’s extorsion, and there ought to be a law. Wait, there is! Its called libelous slander if they intentionally print negative & untrue things intended to damage your reputation. So if someone tries that angle with you again, set ‘em straight. Also, I wonder– if Yelp is informed that someone had committed libelous slander against you and yet they continue to print it, are they not guilty of complicity?

          • http://twitter.com/kirkiscool Kirk Shelton

            It’s not that the reviews are slander, they could be honest reviews but when yelp chooses to filter most of your reviews and leave the 3 worst ones then calculates your star ranking based on 7 of your 60 reviews. It’s a dishonest portrayal of your business. Has nothing to do with a disingenuous reviewer.

        • Kingstphoto1

          Hey Jessica, I am a wedding photographer myself, and I have also been affected by Yelp as well, however I have done extensive research of the law. I would love to speak to you when you have a chance. My email is kingstphoto1@bell south,net. I look forward to speaking to you.

  • Verduras

    What I can say is that I have been asked 4 times to advertise with Yelp and the first 3 times I got in a couple days a bad review , when I decided not to advertise with them. The last time was just a couple weeks ago. I had a review filtered then unfiltered (I am assuming to get me to advertise and boost my rating) then it was filtered again when they realized I would not advertise with them. I have software that alerts me of new reviews, so I know it was not a new review and the amount filtered increased again. I wrote them a letter that I will be documenting and taking pictures of my ratings before and after phone calls and emails.

    • Sam

      Get a record of phone calls. Sue them for harassment.

  • Tom

    We advertised with Yelp for over a year and no problems. We stopped advertising and they no longer put our 5 stars up. Are rating decreased by over one full star. They have only allowed 6 published reviews: 2, 4 stars: 2, 1 stars: 2, 2 stars: There are 25 filtered reviews, all with 5 stars except 1with a 4 star. Not one bad review is filtered! How is possible that EVERY filtered review is very positive and EVERY negative review is published? Not one negative review is filtered. I do not see how the 25 filtered reviews can be faked. Sadly, I don’t enough people that will write positive reviews for me. They are real customers. I sent an email to Yelp and I have received no response. I believe their software algorithm for filtering reviews borders on software engineering incompetence. How else do you explain it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jdiramarian Jack Diramarian

    I own a Automotive repair shop, we have been in business for over 55 years. We have built a great reputation for our company for many years. Our Yelp reviews started out with some good reviews. At one point we had one unhappy customer report his opinion on what we had done wrong an since then my good reviews stated disappearing and now I am left with only 1 Bad review and over 20 good reviews in the FILTERED section at the bottom where customers have to look for the faintly printed FILTERED that you even have to go thru the process of encryption. On the other hand there is a new shop competing against us that has only been in business less than 2 years has a Yelp reputation that looks like he has been in business forever. This is filtering process seems very unfair and who made them Jugde and Jury to decide which business is worthy of the online reputation they portray. What should we do about this.

  • Mac-Gal

    I HATE YELP! I have never dealt with a more disgusting company in my life. We have 11 filtered reviews, all of them 4 and 5 stars that Yelp out and out REFUSES to show despite multiple complaints about their dishonest practices. In 2011 some jerk named “Tyler” posted a one star review about our company. Literally five minutes after it was posted I received a phone call telling me that if I paid the person calling a bunch of money they would get the review removed. I refused to pay the extortion money and proceeded to send a complaint to Yelp — which they in turn ignored. Because they refuse to post ANY of the other positive reviews and because they refuse to do ANYTHING about the fraudulent bad one (this individual lives half way across the country and we only provide local service!) this one post has had a devastating effect on our business (prior to this posting we received a lot of business through Yelp despite having only 1 review). The situation has degenerated so bad that I have gotten into some very heated arguments with Yelp’s sales people who could care less what their dishonest practices to do small businesses. I am so frustrated at this point that I am resorting to adding my voice to all the complaints about Yelp…

  • Truth Be Told

    Many Yelp pests use the site to extort. Rachel Thoele of Oakland uses Yelp to extort businesses. She gets free entrees, drinks, you name it, and generally expects businesses to cater to her every whim because she’ll threaten to hurt your business on Yelp. Not an honest person. One of many bad people living in cyberspace.

  • LetsSueYelp@aol.com

    I believe Yelp is in a legally actionable position to be sued in a class action, and here is why:

    ANY business can have a bad day. What Yelp is doing is taking your “bad day” and using it as a banner ad for your business. If you had 2 or 3 bad days, all the better, Yelp will put them at the top of your search page. That in and of itself is gross misrepresentation of your hard work and jeopardizes your livlihood.

    (When I use the term “bad day” it includes a business being subjected to a variety of unreasonable demands from socially repugnant individuals who happen to own computers, by the way.)

    The idea that reviews of a business are impartial when they are not posted in chronological order as they are received is another problem. Let’s say your business uses a piece of equipment that malfunctioned on January 1, negatively affecting your product until you discovered it later in the day, at which point you ceased production until the problem was corrected. Unfortunately for you, 3 people over a span of the next three weeks write reviews about the product they recieved on January 1 that slam your business, saying your product is horribly defective. Now here it is December 30th and the negative reviews regarding something that happened a year ago continue to be what Yelp places prominently at the top of your page.

    Now Yelp has you where they want you. Now the sales calls begin in earnest.

    Here is my experience with these bloodsucking leeches at Yelp:

    I own a 4 star rated business. The top three reviews on my Yelp page are a 5 star, a one star, and a two star. That averages out to a little over 2 1/2 stars, which in itself is a misrepresentation of our overall rating.

    The one star review was written by a social misfit who was rude to my female employee and threatened a bad Yelp review if she did not accomodate him, which he did, giving us a long winded and rambling one star review. This wing nut’s mental garbage is now my Yelp banner ad.

    Then I began receiving sales calls from these smarmy leeches. They want $350.00 a month for their least expensive ad package, which comes out to over $4,000.00 a year for some additional photos on your page and a low quality video link.

    They can’t come out and say they will ‘alter’ the placement of your reviews, as this would place them in violation of RICOH racketeering statutes….but in their sales pitch, they refer you to one of your competitor’s Yelp page as an example of what you get if you buy the advertising.

    On your competitor’s page, you can’t help but notice that many of his negative reviews are on the second “Captcha” page where they are far less likely to be seen, while all of your negatives are at or near the top of your first page, while your “Captcha” page contains nothing but 4 and 5 star reviews.

    Anyone else that has had any similar experience and wants do do something about it, feel free to email me at LetsSueYelp@aol.com.
    Yelp……your day is coming.

    • Sam

      Try to get any yelp rep info so you can each of you sue them for HARASSMENT. phone records and employee testimony.

  • PHILLIP

    YELP really does SUCK.

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  • Alan

    Believe it or not after all the bad thing they do to businesses BBB rate them A+

    Call 510-844-2015 Kim Sharp, rating regulator at BBB, ask them to re-check Yelp rating

  • Sam

    Can each of you who have been extorted by YELP keep a number and info on their rep, with phone records and screen shot of before and after. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL NEWS. the more aware others will be, the stronger we’ll be. And if we get a case we’ ll prosecute yelp as well as their “elite reviewers for compensation.

  • K.R.

    I have received 6 great reviews on yelp from happy customers. They had filtered all but two, until recently when I received another good review, and now I’m down to 6 filtered and one posted, all because I’m assuming after the multiple times they have called me to pay for their very expensive advertising, I told them no thanks again. I am very displeased because a lot of my web traffic comes from yelp, and I do excellent work so the reviews are all legit.

    Super frustrating!

  • mb

    Ever since we turned down yelp for advertising they have filtered all of our five and four star reviews. They need to be shut down.

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  • tavis mann

    Ok we have a case.

    1. Where can we coordinate our information?
    2. Does anyone know a good lawyer that is willing to take pay upon settlement ( i don’t want money just want this to stop )
    3. Does anyone know someone that either works for Yelp or worked for yelp in the past?

    What is so sad is all the people with small businesses just trying to make an honest living , and now they have to deal with this school yard mentality. Anyone reading this that works for yelp should be ashamed and set their soul right by helping us stand up and stop this insanity.

  • Brandis

    Overall,
    I’ve liked Yelp- until recently. And, since I’ve listed my business on
    Yelp- I know approximately how many of my business inquiries come from
    Yelp (I ask when they call and log the info). About 2 months ago- Yelp
    asked me to pay for promotional advertising. I said no for 2 reasons: 1)
    They filtered out about 4-5 reviews. My thought on that is, if they
    didn’t filter out reviews, promotional advertising wouldn’t be
    necessary. 2) The “similar business” that they were currently promoting-
    when I clicked on the actual website listed- was a video that users
    could purchase. It wasn’t even an actual person or business that would
    come to your home to do the work. It was more like an infomercial. About
    3 weeks ago- Yelp contacted me again asking me to pay for promotional
    advertising and I said no for the reasons I just listed and I explained
    my reasoning to them. What happens next? You receive and email
    explaining their filtering policies etc… (which, I already understood
    prior to the phone call & let them know that).
    So- it’s been 3
    weeks since this happened and 1) How many business inquiries have I had?
    ZERO. 2) If I type in my business profession- I can’t even find my
    business on Yelp but I can find some other similar businesses AND
    businesses totally unrelated (which, is obviously not going to be of
    help to their users) 3) How many reviews have been filtered? 8 (4 more
    than previously filtered).
    I get that Yelp needs to compete with
    other sites but what they’re doing is unethical. If Yelp continues to do
    this- over time, not only will they lose businesses- they’ll also lose
    the users who come to Yelp to look for reviews. If Yelp needs money to
    maintain costs- most businesses like myself would be happy to pay a
    small monthly fee to list our business on here. But- instead of being
    ethical about things- Yelp has chosen to extortion as their method of
    business.

  • IKE LEVYM

    YELP.COM WILL BE SUED AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL WE TAKE YELP OFF FROM THE NET…. THE BEST IS YET.TO.COME, YELP EXTORTS SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS BY REPEATEDLY TARGETING THEM BY PHONE AND BY FLYERS, DEMANDING THAT THEY, THE BUSINESS MUST PAY YELP.COM FOR ADVERTISING , IF THE BUSINESS DOES NOT AGREE, THEN YELP DESTROYS THE BUSINESS BY NOT REMOVING FAKE REVIWS, INFACT WE BELIEVE THAT YELP IS EXTORTING THEIR CURRENT CUSTOMERS BY ASKING THEM TO PAY $500TO$1,000 A MONTH IN ORDERTO PROMOTE THEIR BUSINESS AND THEREFOR YELP WILL NOT FILTER POSITIVE REVIEWS FROM THE USINESS OWNER, THIS IS EXTORTION TO THE CYBER EXTENT.

  • Ashfrye34

    I have had the same thing done to my businesses. We contacted them to take down reviews of customers that have never even used our service. They told us they could manage our reviews for $300 a month so I gave it a try. When my contract ended they said it had gone up to $600 a month and i said no way would i pay that. I did not renew my contract. Now all my 5 star reviews are hidden and only one star reviews are left. This is crazy. Please put me on the list for a class action!! I am so sick of BBB, Angies List, and Yelp making money off reviews of my businesses. This should be an OPT IN service. Please count me in ashleyafrye@aol.com

  • Ccarr0027

    There should be some way to take your information off and/or have all the reviews show. My friend is having this problem they are only keeping the negative reviews (she has 10) and 35 positive reviews have been toss in the filter zone. I put one up for her business and 3 others for other places and her’s was the only review of mine that was tossed in the filter bucket. If they dont want to show the good with the bad then they should give the businesses a chance to op-out of their online blog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kclady48 Jill Jones

    People being held hostage by negative reviews if they don’t pay to have the positive ones that they earned posted also! WTH Why are they even still in business? This online extortion by shysters has taken other forms recently, too.Sometimes information from someone’s past that could harm their reputation such as old arrest records are maliciously located and posted online and a ransom is charged to remove them. Somebody should start an online petition to get this made illegal.
    My problem with Yelp is the reverse of what others are describing. In Springfield,MO there’s a con artist running a bogus computer repair shop who has ripped off lots of people to the tune of several hundred dollars.When I took my new Toshiba laptop to him the SOB stole it.He refused to return it and started getting loud and abusive to me when asked.The local police did nothing.I posted what he did to me on Yelp and it was allowed at first.But after the con artist paid them off Yelp informed me my post was no longer in compliance with their terms of agreement.So people are still completely unsuspecting of the crook.

  • Kim

    We are having the same issues with Yelp. Any good reviews that get posted get removed. The one bad review isn’t even someone who was a customer but a neighbor of a customer. They put up a terrible review. We contacted Yelp about getting it removed and they will not remove it. However, they remove the good reviews. This is so extremely damaging to business. Yelp is the most dishonest review website I have ever encountered and something needs to be done about it. The site amounts to nothing more than libel. If a review is placed online by a customer that was completely satisfied and the review is positive what gives Yelp the right to remove the review. This is absolute nonsense. LIBEL LIBEL LIBEL!

  • shootemdown

    THIS IS 100% TRUE. I had an angry customer who created several additional yelp accounts to write bad reviews about me. I had eight five-star reviews (5 of which were blocked, and now 3 bad reviews from one person. When i complained to yelp about their shake down, they removed ALL OF MY GOOD REVIEWS and left up only the bad ones. Ive never met a single person who has anything good to say about them.

  • T Tuca

    YELP SUCKS. I DID HAD A BAD REVIEW TOO. YELP DOESN’T WANT TO HELP AT ALL i CAN’T EVEN DELETE MY BUSINESS PAGE. YELP PEOPLE TOOK MY SOUL WITH THEM. WHAT A BAD ONLINE COMPANY TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS. I STRONG RECOMMEND THAT YOU STAY AWAY FROM YELP.

  • T Tuca

    YELP WORKERS ARE VERY ARROGANT PEOPLE , AND WHEN YOU REQUEST HELP THEY NEVER FIND SUPERVISORS, OR MANAGERS TO HELP YOU.. THEY WILL EXCUSE THEMSELVES FOR A FEW DAYS AND ASK YOU TO CONTACT LEGAL YELP.BUT NEVER FORGET THAT YOU WERE ONE DAY A BIG HELPER FOR YELP, CAUSE YOU GAVE YOUR BUSINESS NAME AND ADDRESS TO YELP….AND THEY BUILT THEIR WEBSITE WITH YOUR INFORMATION, TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS BETTER.WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW IS ONCE THEY OWN YOUR BUSINESS NAME THAT IS ILLEGALL BECAUSE IS YOURS, YELP LOCKS YOUR ACCOUNT , AND YOU CAN’T REMOVE YOUR BUSINESS PAGE ANYMORE. EVEN IF YOU GO OUT OF BUSINESS YOUR PAGE WILL STAY SHOWING FOREVER. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A CLASS ACTION HITING THIS VERY DISHONEST PEOPLE REALLY HARD. IS GOING TO HAPPEN SOON.

  • NYDogWhisperer

    I WANT TO JOIN A LAWSUIT. FCC IS IN BED WITH YELP. I NEED TO GET ERRONEOUS AND LIFE RUINING POSTS REMOVED. YELP HAS ME BLOCKED FROM DEFENDING MYSELF. szukidavis@aol.com

  • http://twitter.com/BigTFatty BigTFatty

    Why the fuck would you make the font color on the page as close to white without actually being white? Do you hate your readers? L2PageDesign

  • Peter Davids

    Without Prejudice….some one suggested the following to me and I post it as a quote from them, it is not necessarily my opinion….Quote “Business owners should club together and have Yelp investigated, as it appears they are using extortion style tactics in the way of posting poor reviews or cancelling good ones, when a business doesn’t pay them for marketing. ‘Extortion’ dictionary – the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority.Their office or authority is their review web page, by acting in a biased manner they are manipulating the reviews according to who pays, not a real review site at all, just a means of extracting money” unquote….

  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.harris.9803 Rob Harris

    I guess the judge in the lawsuit must have got all of his bad reviews removed from Yelp for his moronic dismissal with prejudice decision.

    • martinw392

      True these judges don’t have a freaking clue…… thousands are being financially damaged and stressed but some how in our bizarre world that’s just a OK with them!! The problem is that they are technically ignorant. They just don’t get what’s really happening.

  • MrOpinion

    I have not had ‘bad’ reviews – even after asking a ‘not 100% happy customer’ to post on Yelp – so I cannot comment on the remove for advertisement issue …. now as to ‘screening reviews’ … 3 of 4 have been put on the ‘unverified list’ and as far as I can tell, though reviews are legit – Yelp bases these categorizations on the ‘reviewers’ search history and especially age of user account — new account and review may be ‘filed in back’ , especially if it’s the only review
    I kind of respect Yelp, in so far that ‘officially’ bad reviews can only be removed by ‘reviewer’ , they can however be commented / replied to by business — overall I find that the only way to handle things

    • MrOpinion

      OH .. as an addition — I told Yelp to never call me again for advertisement – nothing changed in my reviews —- now if any where attempted and never showed up, that I wouldn’t know about – but currently hold a solid 5 * , usually in the first page on ‘searches’ and do not advertise — now in my category I only have 30-50 others locally as it is not bar/restaurant service

  • Frustrated

    I have the same issue with Yelp … they removed, or filtered, all of my positive reviews after I spoke with a rep who called about me advertising on their site. I turned them down, and the reviews vanished. Yelp is the first site that is listed on Google searches for my company and my 4.5 star rating shows up as a 2.5 because Yelp will not show my positive reviews. This also happened to a friend who owns a couple of restaurants near me. You get ‘THE CALL’ and your ratings disappear. How Yelp was able to get around any lawsuit is beyond me. They also send ‘staff’ to locations to ‘review’ restaurants .. isn’t soliciting reviews against their policy?

  • Corgivet

    I have veterinary hospital….a year ago ..a one rime client brought her cat in for vaccines, and complete body clip down which required sedation..she was given an estimate..she signed it …left and then posted on yelp how we jacked up our prices..no one for fed her to sign e estimate and her bill was exactly the same…

  • http://www.facebook.com/bender.rodriguez.7927 Bender Rodriguez

    I had no idea this happens. About 2 years ago, I got into an argument with an advertiser at craigslist (he was flagged, I was trying to help him). He instantly accused me (just a random user helping him) of being the restauranteur he gave a bad review to at a review site (could have been Yelp, I don’t remember). He accused me of being the owner and I was stalking him online flagging his ads and then lying in wait for him at the help forums (!!! lol), so he threatened to leave more bad reviews. He mentioned the restaurant name and city, so I checked and sure enough he was on there leaving psycho reviews as we spoke. I emailed the review site and gave them the heads up that the guy was ruining that business because of an internet fight with me–and supplied links to the craigslist disagreement and his accusations and threats. The site promptly removed the “reviews”.

    I’ve learned to not trust review sites ever since then. Also, never trust a business owner who gets into ego-fueled internet fights… EVER. If you get a bad review or run into some trouble, the ONLY way to handle it is with grace and dignity. To me, that says I can trust trying you out. If you start fights for all to see, then kiss your business’ future goodbye. Look at what’s happening to Amy’s Baking Company (she linked to this article on her Facebook page). She’s behaved like the man at craigslist I wrote about above. Never get into fights! It will only hurt, not help. The sane people will be able to figure out if you’re likely innocent and deserve the benefit of the doubt if you behave in a civil manner.

    ps. There are a lot of photographers here. Using craigslist, I’ve learned not to trust photographers who advertise there because they abuse the site (daily spamming of the section meant for private parties, not businesses). And when their ads get eventually flagged, they throw tantrums in subsequent ads accusing the “competition”. Be careful about that! In fact, based on how small business owners behave at craigslist, I’m less likely to ever trust one who advertises there for anything other than the occasional job post. I almost never use that site anymore and it’s all because small businesses abuse the site and they abuse the people who read it (their potential customers). I see this as a potential issue at Yelp.

  • LJP

    I am a new business owner still within the first 3 years of my business. I was overjoyed when I started to see reviews on Yelp! I had accumulated 7 reviews (all of them positive) when I started to get sales calls from Yelp Salespeople wanting me to purchase ad space on their site. Being a new business my budget was very tight and I had to refuse. After the 3rd call declining their sales service, one by one my reviews were “filtered” to where now there remains none showing. I went from 5 stars to none. I wholeheartedly believe Yelp only allows positive reviews to remain for businesses who pay for ad space and promotion on their site.

  • Paul

    1 have no bad reviews and 19good filtered reviews because I would not pay yelp to advertise Down under deli & eatery Spicewood tx

  • FCKYELP

    yelp is trying to force me to advertise with them…no fucking way yelp….i educate ALL of my customers about how yelp extorts small business’s!!!!

  • Kim

    Hello;

    I own a small cleaning service. A previous client posted an untrue review not once but twice using different names. Yelp did not screen with my company to confirm accuracy. All of my POSITIVE true reviews they filtered out – but left the 2 untrue reviews. I had client signed back up documentation proving the person posting the false reviews was lying. I plan to send the information to the stopyelp@aol.com which is a class action lawsuit against Yelp that is going up for appeal. I really hope our justice system is looking out for small businesses and shuts the YELP site down.. I also filed a complaint on BBB. There were hundreds of complaints against yelp through BBB and they still had an A+ rating – must mean they are paying a lot of money to keep their rating A+.

  • Izzy

    Jessica. Same problem. I’m also a wedding and portrait photographer who has been held hostage by a dishonest client and then – to add insult to injury, Yelp filters out 10 5 star reviews and leaves the only negative review up – a 1 star ….. Like you, the clients who had left positive reviews were verified, had plenty of other reviews – it’s a nightmare. It seems like photographers are especially vulnerable to this type of extortion.

  • Mr. Fist

    I wonder if anyone knows Jerry Stoppleman’s (CEO of Yelp) home address. I would like to “speak” with him . . . . .

  • Leave Comments

    I used to encourage my clients to get yelp accounts but then they pulled every hard earned review I had, and now those are “hidden”. Now I tell people list your business and forget about it.
    I hate yelp. They are totally random in how they decide to pull your HONEST AND REAL reviews, that I worked damn hard for. Their sales tactics are very dicey and questionable, and they refuse to talk to you about any of this. You will never get help or a response from Yelp about your account. Maybe if you upgrade and pay and pay them for ads, but a normal account, no way.

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