Yelp Sued Over Accepting Money For Removing Negative Reviews

Feb 26, 2010 • 3:21 am | comments (9) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Local Search Engine Tips & Optimization

A WebmasterWorld thread has discussion around the allegations that Yelp has been burying negative reviews in exchange for advertising dollars.

MediaPost writes:

A California veterinary center has sued review site Yelp for allegedly promising to bury bad reviews in exchange for purchasing $3,600 worth of advertising on the site.

"Yelp frequently exercises its control over the listing application to modify business listing pages to the advantage of businesses that purchase Yelp advertising subscriptions, and the disadvantage of those that decline," Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital owner Gregory Perrault alleges in a complaint filed in federal district court in the central district of California.

Greg at Search Engine Land writes:

Two class action law firms have filed suit in Los Angeles federal court claiming that Yelp has attempted to “extort” money from small businesses by offering to remove negative reviews in exchange for payment.

The truth will out of course but I would be stunned if these claims were based in truth rather than the frustrations and misunderstandings of the plaintiff in this case.

I hope Greg is right - we covered reports of this via the forums back in November 2008. Back then, I was told it:

Reviews are purely algorithmic and that only one positive review can be emphasized. Reviews can come down if the person writing the review closed his/her account or the account was terminated due to violations. A third reason why reviews would be hidden is due to suspect behavior; the review is removed from the actual business but not from the reviewer's profile page.

I guess time will tell us if this is true - unless this is settled out of court and no one really finds out the truth.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Pablo Palatnik

02/26/2010 06:55 pm

This reminds me of They also had similar business practices or at least thats what it seemed like from some cases I heard.

Melissa Gonzalez

02/26/2010 08:51 pm

Wow...that stinks...I use Yelp a lot to help me find new restaurants to try out. Now I guess I should be more skeptical.


02/28/2010 04:29 pm

As a consumer we reserve the rights to know and acknowledge honest product reviews and that includes the good and the bad. Removing the negative parts is equivalent to removing our rights to decide which one is best.

03/03/2010 11:46 pm

This will be blasphemy both ways - if it is true I will never trust yelp. If it is false then it is pure and simple blasphemy


06/25/2010 02:18 am

You bet they do - here's an M.D. that operates in California who had MANY negative reviews. Now, mysteriously, only two (positive) reviews remain. Here are snippets from the original reviews that are no longer there: Feb 12, 2010Reviewer: Ben H. What a scam. I went in for a respiratory infection and he said go home and you`ll feel better in a few days. If it gets worse, he said schedule a follow up. Ok, it got worse and i went back for ... - user review - Full Review Jun 28, 2009Reviewer: polina S. Maybe a good doctor, but he was impatient and I felt very rushed.... - user review - Full Review Jun 1, 2009Reviewer: P R. Didn't like Dr. Baron and didn't find the receptionist to be very friendly.When I went for my app't, Dr. Baron told me to come back in a week so he could see if there was any change. When I ... - user review - Full Review Feb 24, 2009Reviewer: Anna Y. Dr. Baron AND his staff were awful. His nurse seems to also serve as the receptionist but either way, she is impatient, rude, condescending and completely unhelpful. Dr. Baron is no better ... - user review - Full Review Feb 10, 2009Reviewer: Brad B. Dr Baron needs new help at the front desk. On the phone, I found the receptionist short and rather rude - as if I had done something by simply calling for an appointment. She interrupted me before ... - user review - Full Review Dec 18, 2008Reviewer: Nora S. office visit - march #4 of 6condition:violent cough for 1.5 months.severe rib making the appointment, i was told that dr. baron wouldn't be available until two weeks from that day.... - user review - Full Review Nov 28, 2007Reviewer: Peter H. Not impressed ... I went there because I snore and wanted to know what can be done. Doctor Baron saw me for 2 minutes and then sold me a $250 snore guard that is not covered by the insurance. ... - user review - Full Review


08/08/2010 04:34 am

Yes Reputation defender will remove it I hear for a good price. You can't believe Yelp anymore. A car dealer took my elderly relative, and within a day, the negative review was removed. The "filtered" are so light, no one can find them. It's a waste.

Frank Bernardone

09/16/2011 08:36 pm

What does "suspect behavior" mean?  I had a very negative review I wrote removed.  Since then the Better Business Bureau has given the business in question a grade of "F", which I would think would make my poor review seem less "suspicious".  I mentioned the BBB in a toned-down review, but no luck so far getting my review to appear.  We were victims of a scam and potential future victims should be warned.  Yelp is doing a disservice to its visitors with its filtering and even outright removal of reviews.


12/23/2011 07:03 pm

Two negative reviews I posted about a shady dental service I went to were removed. The first one told of  the negative experience. The second told how the dental services chief PR guy tracked me down after a negative Yelp review and tried to give me the PR job.

Ryan Key

10/26/2013 06:40 pm

This doesn't surprise me, Yelp is in it for the money and not being a credible resource for reviews. Hopefully they will learn a lesson from this and not accept candy from strangers.

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