Yelp Slaps Consumer Alerts On Business Pages For Those Who Have Paid For Reviews

    October 18, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Yelp announced today that it is now showing warnings to users when they have found businesses that have paid for reviews. If you are looking at such a business on the site, you’ll be greeted with a “Consumer Alert”. This comes with a message that says:

“We have caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business. We weren’t fooled, but wanted you to know because buying reviews not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules. Check out the evidence here.

Yelp will remove the alert from the business’ page after 90 days, unless they find more efforts to mislead consumers. Yelp indicates that nine businesses will have the alert showing up at launch, but it will appear on any other pages for businesses Yelp finds to be in violation.

Yelp says its automated review filter is “working around the clock” to flag these kinds of reviews.

Eric Singley, Yelp’s VP of Consumer Products and Mobile, says, “As efforts to game the system continuously evolve, so do our methods for combating it. An independent Businessweek report confirmed the success of Yelp’s efforts to protect consumers. The article details the efforts of a Texan business owner who purchased 200 online reviews in an attempt to artificially bolster his business’s online reputation. The report found that Yelp’s review filter returned ‘impressive results’ catching every purchased review, while the shill reviews remained up on seven other review sites.”

“Beyond alerting consumers to attempts to purchase reviews, the next step will be to let consumers know if a business has had a large number of reviews submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, which can be a helpful indicator that they lack authenticity,” he adds. “While the review filter already takes this type of information into account, we believe that consumers also have a right to know if this activity is going on.”

He does reassure users that most businesses on Yelp are playing by the rules.

  • James

    The laws need to be changed to protect the small businesses that have no recourse against yelp.

  • Heidi

    Jeremy Stoppelman CEO of Yelp.com is a real winner. Well, no, not really. This man runs a company that not only thrives on negative attention, but refuses to respond to legitimate concerns.

    I am not sure how he can sleep at night knowing that he is running such a joke of a company.

  • J.

    Does this include people that pay Yelp for premium placement?

  • Cease Costa

    The First place that sign should appear is on yelps home page!!!!! What a joke that company is! I had never heard of yelp and my daughter who owns a restaurant in Murphys, Ca. Was telling me she was checking her reviews on this site after I had asked her what she was doing. This is a small community and most everything around here is by word of mouth. Beings how we are a tourist town we found many people were using yelp when in our area. My daughter loved the idea because although she had seen bad reviews as well as good it gave her a chance to see what some of the problems where so she could fix them and only better her business this way. Then she received a phone call from yelp many months later wanting to get her “up graded”. An hour later the person on the phone assured her that for 4 hundred and 70 sum dollars a month she wouldnt have these bad reviews at all. And this is something they denied ever takes place. My daughter said,” But I have been checking yelp for months and it has never cost me! And it doesn’t cost the consumer to place a review on there so no I’m not paying for your services!” and hung up. …. Well that took care of seeing any good reviews on there again! So shame, shame, shame on you Yelp!

  • http://www.unyelpme.com/ shane watson

    A proper manual moderator system is to be placed who can handle this type of chaos it will be a third party vendor at least the issues of both the parties can be heard

  • http://www.healthcaremarketingcoe.com/doctor_reputation_management/ Simon Sikorski MD

    First of all, ratings sites are not fair.

    Reviews are NOT verified. Unless there’s a system where individuals who provide reviews are identified, and then asked to re-verify, then ratings should not be posted.

    This “filter” that Yelp claims, is just another way of gaming the system so that businesses ask their clients to provide more reviews.

    In a recent example, we had one doctor in California who had more than 50 reviews hidden by Yelp’s filter. We personally verified 47 of them from actual patients!

    At this point it seems Yelp’s “gaming of the system” is rigged to get more people to use the site and blackmail businesses to purchase advertising.

    Hmmmm… what will you do when you see a doctor with negative reviews and right above it you see another doctor’s advertisement…