It’s not the first time Yelp, the customer review website, has been hit with extortion claims. They went to court and narrowly escaped legal consequences.
Maybe they use some slimy sales tactics, sure, but Yelp says they are on the up-and-up.
“Any claims that Yelp manipulates reviews for money, or that advertisers are treated any differently than non-advertisers, are completely false and have been repeatedly dismissed by courts of law, thoroughly researched and disproven by academic study, and investigated by government regulators, including the FTC, who closed a nearly two-year investigation without taking action,” a Yelp spokesman responded in a statement.
Still, Toasted Coffee + Kitchen owner Bob Sinnott alleges that positive reviews have disappeared from his Yelp page because he refused to pay the online review company for advertising.
Sinnott administrates a Facebook group Lakewood, Dallas, which has tens of thousands of followers; he posted complaints there and the local business owner ended up telling his story on the local news.
Sinnott said Yelp harassed him with four calls a day about advertising, and when he gave final word that he would not pay, his ratings began to slip. Sinnott says that more bad reviews showed up and five star reviews disappeared.