The review website Yelp is being accused again of extorting small business owners — but this time the business owners say that Yelp used the guarantee of positive reviews to get free products for their events. The Chicago Tribune has a quote from the owner of a cupcake shop who says that Yelp “guaranteed us good reviews on the site if we catered one of their parties for free.”
From the Chicago Tribune
They allege that Yelp representatives have offered to rearrange positive and negative reviews for companies that advertise on the site or sponsor Yelp Elite parties.
Ina Pinkney of Ina’s restaurant in the West Loop said that last summer a Yelp salesperson offered to “move up my good reviews if I sponsored one of their events. They called it rearranging my reviews.”
The owner of More Cupcakes, Patty Rothman, said that last fall a Yelp Chicago staffer walked into her Gold Coast shop and “guaranteed us good reviews on the site if we catered one of their parties for free.” Offended but resigned, Rothman complied. And just as promised, positive reviews bloomed for the business right after the party, Rothman said
Yelp has vehemently denied that its even possible for salespeople to modify the reviews based on advertising. Their CEO told the Tribune that the reports of extortion were probably “due to a game of telephone” and that “certain people misunderstood what was being offered.”
Chicago proprietors add to Yelp allegations [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks, David!)