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People’s Court’s Judge Milian ‘Horrified’ By Business Owner’s Yelp Story

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Yelp is looking for increased user trust as it recently announced more consumer alerts aimed at letting users know about businesses who have been caught with fake reviews. Businesses, on the other hand, continue to voice their frustration with the popular online review site. Just see the comments on our coverage of the alerts.

One reader pointed out that Yelp came up for discussion on a recent episode of The People’s Court. YouTube user Brock Keeling shared part of the episode:

Not having seen the rest of the episode, it’s hard to place all of this in the context of the case at hand. Unfortunately, The People’s Court website doesn’t have the episodes archived.

But in this clip, the business owner says, “The bad comments on the Internet were through Yelp, which to me, is a scam to begin with. If you go on that website, and searched our business name, what comes up is one or two bad statements, and if you go down on the bottom of the page, you can get down to twenty-five statements that are positive.”

He told Judge Marilyn Milian, “Yelp contacted us, and said, ‘Well, if you advertise with us, then we’ll make sure that those get filtered out.’ We refuse to advertise, and that’s what you see when you go on Yelp.”

Milian responded, “Wow! I don’t know if what you’re saying is accurate or not, but if it is, it’s pretty outrageous.”

“And this is true,” she said. “It’s garbage in, garbage out with the Internet. It’s informative because you learned something you may not have known, but you always have to look at it with a skeptical eye. And then of course the other thing that business owners do is they will post forty-two positive things and just have them and their friends post a bunch of positive things, and that will push the negative down the road too.”

“That didn’t happen,” the business owner said. “They filtered out every positive statement…and you can check that yourself.”

“I’m horrified,” said Judge Milian.

Yelp has been accused of the practices this man talks about repeatedly. The Washington Post recently ran a video report on this topic, prompting Yelp to take to its blog to deny such allegations.

The company called such stories “sensational,” and said, “No, Yelp doesn’t ‘extort’ small businesses,” though clearly, not everyone is convinced.

People’s Court’s Judge Milian ‘Horrified’ By Business Owner’s Yelp Story
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  • Rob

    Yelp is a for profit company this has nothing to do with free speech, Yelp is a free speech manipulation for profit business that toys with businesses reputations and causes very real damages to small business owners, businesses should be given the freedom to take themselves off some one else’s for profit listing, why do we as business owners need to sacrifice our good will so another business can make money off our good name and damage us with no accountability? they should be paying us royalties just like the record industry IF we give them permission to use our businesses to help their business make money, why do we need to be the sheep that are sacrificed so another can profit from harming our good will and our hard work? Do Not ever give up the fight on this issue! NEVER!!

  • Goran

    I made a mistake of advertising on Yelp once. What a waste of money. Yelp are full of shit. Don’t bother advertising or visiting the site

  • http://www.denverinternetmarketing.org/ Ken Fry

    YELP… is the whimpering sound of small business owners as they are extorted by commission based sales people to get the negative reviews removed…. this is know as the YELP algorithm by their marketing department.

    • disgusted with yelp

      Yelp has been doing this to my hubby who simply runs a pc repair business our of our home office. The have conveniently “FILTERED” 3 completely legitimate good feedbacks (his first three EVER as a matter of fact!!) and they harass him via phone daily, even in the evenings, for him to advertise in order to have the “filters” lifted. What a scam.. Glad I read this, this morning.

  • Jan

    If nothing else, GOOGLE should be making note of how Yelp is doing that and STOP using them in any way to post reviews or reflect ranking on any of their business pages/ local pages. Right now, Yelp reviews count on Google…and they should NOT. Google, and every other legitimate search engine should divorce themselves from Yelp immediately.

    • http://www.denverinternetmarketing.org/ Ken Fry

      I heard they would be the preferred service that Siri uses on iPhones. Is this true… if so another plus for androids

  • TimH

    I agree with Rob. Free speech cannot be used as a defense for defamation if the for profit business is using a filtering system to manipulate the overall rating of a company to be either positive or negative based on advertising or any other for profit motivation. Review filtering systems need to be reviewed by the courts before further damage is done to small businesses.

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