Yelp to Satisfy Disgruntled Customers

In earlier blog posts, we have explored the reports of Yelp’s questionable business practices. Yelp is a website where your business can get reviewed and ranked by local customers. However, business owners have yelled ‘foul’ at the alleged practice of using negative comments to leverage paid help from Yelp. If businesses did not buy an advertising package, owners claimed that Yelp did further damage to their online reputation, even by writing “anonymous” negative reviews themselves against a non-paying advertiser.

Yelp’s advertising methods were so widely hated that a class-action lawsuit was filed against Yelp in California for extortion. The complaint claimed that Yelp removed poor reviews and added only positive reviews for paying advertisers. The claim further stated, “business listings on are in fact biased in favor of businesses that buy Yelp advertising.”

Yelp, of course, denied any wrongdoing or practicing any ‘foul’ business favoritism that might be unethical. However, due to the outcry and the lawsuit, Yelp has just announced a few changes in April of 2010 that they hope will appease current and future advertising clients.

One of the changes is the ability of viewers to see which reviews have been removed by Yelp. This will hopefully help viewers make their own judgments whether Yelp gives special favoritism or advantage to paying advertisers.

The other step Yelp will take is removing a feature where paying advertisers can pick their choice of best review to be prominently placed on top of all reviews. Due to the confusion over this practice, Yelp has decided to eliminate it altogether.

Yelp’s chief executive and co-founder, Jeremy Stoppelman, said, “It will underscore the point that it really is and has always been a level playing field for businesses, and will showcase the unique challenge we face, in certain situations where it’s obvious businesses are trying to change ratings.”

With these policy changes Yelp hopes to change their failing image. Despite the complaints, Yelp is an accredited company with the Better Business Bureau, and it maintains an “A” rating with the BBB. The BBB states that Yelp has received 85 complaints over the last three years, but that all complaints have had a response or are satisfactorily closed.

Yelp continues to try to be the leading website for local business reviews. These new changes may help appease paying customers, but it is the reviewers who will ultimately determine whether Yelp’s services are valid and in demand.

Like this? Share it with your network:

I need help with:

Got a Question?

Get personalized expert answers to your business questions – free.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to purchase something using one of our links at no extra cost to you.