Yelp And Ripoff Review Scam. Are Yelp and Ripoff Report in the business of extorting small businesses?

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The Yelp And Ripoff Report Scam?

Around December 2013 we decide against using Yelp’s expensive advertising. Yelp decided to punish us by removing all of our many positive comments.

We are not alone in this. From the growing number of complaints about Yelp from small business owners, this is a typical way for them to punish companies who do want to advertise with them. They did leave some of the good comments in the “other reviews not recommended category.”  It’s under the red “write a review” button to the left.

We contacted Yelp through email because they won’t discuss these matters over the phone. They deny any wrongdoing and expressly say that their filters are fair and accurate, despite many businesses reporting statistical tests they have done on their own pages that refute Yelp’s claims.

In fact you can read the extensive reports showing how Yelp scammed businesses by searching “Yelp Scam.”  This discussion on Yelp’s own pages is typical of this scam.

We then asked several of our satisfied clients to make positive comments about our company and services.  We asked them, however, to give us a one star rating hoping Yelp will show these comments and proving to Yelp readers that we have many satisfied clients.

Yelp is Punishing Us

Well, Yelp seemingly now has a person who monitors our company page almost DAILY.  They read the comments looking for anything positive, placing the good reviews in the “other reviews not recommended category.”

Keep in mind Yelp is now managing our reviews, leaving off or arranging reviews in any way that suits their goals.  They placed the one and only bad review at the very top and dropped our 20-30 good reviews! I suggest you read those positive reviews about us, at least the ones they placed in the “not recommended” section. They have also blocked us from making any changes. Do not believe any information listed as to addresses, numbers, statements from owner, etc. They pick what they want to include and leave off, distorting anything on the page.

Yelp’s already lost one court case on this

Yelp recently lost a lawsuit concerning their crooked comment behavior and I expect more will follow. In the meantime, please do not give any credit to their misrepresentations. You can see how others have been scammed by them if you Google “Yelp Scam” and read all the site information that comes up. It’s unconscionable that some people will attempt to destroy the reputation of companies just to try to scam them out of advertising money!

Yelp Is Not Alone

The Ripoff Report is doing the same thing to companies.

The owner of the Ripoff Report contacted me recently and said for $11,500 he will bury the complaint that he knows is a phony on my report. Without paying him he doesn’t care what damage a complaint that he verified himself as being phony does to me or anyone else.

There has been a ton of on-line reputation management companies, news articles and email spam showing up all over the internet as a result of these crooked companies hiding behind a freedom of speech law. These companies are using the comments as a way to extort money from businesses.

I’ve even heard stories of Yelp and rip off report employees putting bad phony comments on companies just so they can offer their “repair” “removal” services to them.  How crooked is that?

The Real Story of Our One Complaint

We had one client recently who was not happy with how fast the IRS moved on the case. Maybe we should have explained the circumstances more often and assured the client that all was okay.  My CPA employees are not always perfect in understanding people’s feelings and often communicate to them in very dry and technical language. What can you expect from a CPA?

We represented this client in an audit. The IRS auditor decided to wait several months before reviewing the documentation we sent in. During that time we responded to letters from the IRS and phone calls from the client. When it came time for us to get the next retainer payment, we were asked to work for free because the case did not move along to the client’s own timetable.

I understand the client’s frustration, and maybe our CPA could have been more personal in the updates. We stress personal service and we don’t make our customers feel like a number.  However, the client did understand that his case can only move when the IRS is ready to move.  The client signed the contract agreeing that we work at the pace of the IRS and we get paid as we go.  We did put in an extra two hours at no charge.

When we couldn’t be bullied into working more hours for free, the client decided to write the same “odd” complaint to both Yelp and the Ripoff Report.  Not anyplace else because there is no case of professional wrong doing against my firm.

After the compliant was posted, both Yelp and the Ripoff Report promptly contacted me with high-priced offers to bury the comments. Those who knew the associate working on the case and me, know us as very honorable people. We will not take part in disreputable practices of any sort! We decided not to pay them to bury the bad comment!

An Update To Our Yelp Experience

On 1/13/2013 Yelp removed the bad review and a salesman called up pressuring me to do an ad.  I told him that there were things wrong with the account on the category, description, etc. He had no interest in getting it fixed or sending me to someone who would fix it. He said that if I bought advertising, someone would be responsible to maintain my account. I told him to wait three weeks and let’s see what happens with the comments.

Of course he denies having any control over them and again sticks to the theory of their filter. He actually said that it was against their policy for me to ask my customers to write comments about our service and suggested that maybe that’s why they were taken off.  When I asked him how Yelp would know that, he refused to answer and kept trying to sell me advertising.

The Growing Yelp Scandal?

Yelp To Show Reviews It Automatically Filters  USA Today/Associated Pres

Yelp Faces Extortion Claim, Class Action Suit ABC News

Yelp Gets Bad Reviews of Its Own Chicago Tribune’s Ethics Questioned Washington Times Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0 East Bay Express

More Business Owners Accuse Yelp of Review Extortion Consumerist

Yelp Extortion: True or False? Marketing Pilgrim

Does Yelp Scam Businesses into Buying Advertisement to Drop Bad Reviews?