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

    August 15, 2013
    Chris Crum

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.