Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yelp Chicago

Just in case you thought this was a San Francisco issue, check out what business owners are saying about Yelp in Chicago here.

Yelp should feel right at home in Chicago. Like any good organized crime syndicate it needs to make money shaking down and extorting business. But instead of Vinny who'll bust your knee caps for a little payback it's the Yelp Sales team.

Nice going Yelp!

Yelp outed by the East Bay Express - Part 2

In response to Jeremy Stoppelman's complaints that the original article was based on anonymous sources, The East Bay Express published a follow up article for businesses willing to go on record about Yelp's shady extortion practices.

Looks like Yelp is digging itself an even bigger hole.

Jeremy Stoppelman - Yelp

Check out the video of Jeremy Stoppelman here. Although he denies that yelp manipulates reviews in this interview his body language suggests he's lying. Is he a liar?

here's one of the comments

Stoppelman is a liar. On this video he looks like a nervous, scared rat who's been forced out of hiding. We'll go on record that a sales rep from Yelp ( named Summer) called us repeatedly and offered to remove reviews if we paid the monthly fee of $350. Yelp's response is always diversionary. They say, if a business has poor reviews they should fix their business. They try to deflect the fact that many of the poor reviews posted are unfounded or malicious and are posted by competitors or people with personal vendettas against the owners. Yelp has mowed through their venture capital investments and is desperate to stay alive. Their business model is one of extortion. They depend on and encourage bad reviews because these are "leads" for their sales people. Razzberry Lips San Jose, CA

Yelp outed by the East Bay Express

Wow. A lot has happened in Yelp land. The East Bay Express outed Yelp for it's shady business practices. It's been known for sometime that yelp uses extortion tactics to arm twist businesses into sponsoring their pages to the tune of $300-$1000 a month.

Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO and chief henchman of Yelp, has been on an all out damage control media blitz in an effort to spin this story.

His explanations for positive reviews disappearing and negative reviews showing up after it's sales people are turned down by a business include his ingenious "algorithm." You can read about it on his blog (which does not allow for comments btw). In it he blames businesses, anonymous sources, the author.. everyone except himself and the unethical practices of yelp. And for a good laugh here's what he says about anonymous sources..

"Use of anonymous sources is fraught with hazards and is strongly discouraged by most editors"

Correct me if I am wrong, but that is what yelp is all about. Over 70% of the reviews are from anonymous sources. But I guess Jeremy has a problem when the tables are turned and another organization uses anonymous sources. Yelp is all about transparency when it suits Yelp's bottom line but not when it is used to expose the slippery slope that yelp has fallen into.

Judging from comments around the web, it does not look like many people are buying his "explanations."


I couldn't believe it when I saw a negative review for my business from someone who had received her service almost 3 months after the fact and proceeded to falsely claim that she paid a lot more for it than she actually did.

Like many other businesses, I have been approached numerous times by Yelp to advertise with them and each time politely declined when I expressed that I wasn't convinced that paying Yelp would help me net more business than I was already getting. Then I noticed that my 5-star reviews kept disappearing, leaving me with down to about 20 or so. I still can't complain, but it's the suspicious particulars about this most recent negative review (several days after declining another advertising opportunity) that I find really disturbing.

Contacting the reviewer (thanking her for taking the time to review my business but asking her why she had waited so long and not expressed her lack of complete satisfaction immediately after her service and asking that she correct her erroneous recollection of what she had paid - we both have copies of the same receipt after all) yielded no response and after contacting Yelp the reply I got was "Unfortunately we don't make factual determinations on reviews." In other words, you're on your own and reviewers are free to say anything they want, even if factually incorrect.

My experience and the experience of countless others cannot bode well for Yelp's future if word of this continues to get around. And as for the reviewer who decided that she had a bone to pick several months after the fact when I can't imagine that I ever gave her a reason to do so, I hope whatever she got out of her deal was worth it to make up for her future karma.

Comment by localbusinessowner - April 2, 2009 @ 05:05 PM

I am owner of a small business. I finally understand what is going on. I had this happen to my business. GREAT JOB Eastbayexpress for the report!

Comment by Justmeok - April 6, 2009 @ 08:52 AM

The New York Times acknowledges that Yelp pays for reviews

The venerable New York Times had to edit and correct a factual error in it's reporting on yelp. In this article the New York Times initially reported quite inaccurately that "it didn't try to pay for reviews, as some sites have."

This was updated with that portion of the article having a strike through.

It didn’t try to pay for reviews, as some sites have.

Having initially denied that yelp paid people to review Jeremy Stoppelman finally admitted that Yelp does in fact use shills to post reviews.

Nish Nadaraja - Yelp

It turns out the Nish Nadaraja, the director of marketing for Yelp, did not like that Yelp was outed for it's use of shills to write reviews. He left the following comment in response to the


Here's his thoughtful and elegant reply...

"All of you assholes need to lay off the yelp bashing until you get your fucking facts straight!"
-Nish Nadaraja

here's his yelp page

I assume he's the one with the open beer can and in a drunken stupor.

Judging from Nish's tactful use of grammar, it comes as no surprise that Yelp is a cesspool of 4 letter words.

Hey Nish we noticed several unfavorable comments here on this blog. Good thing you commented because we can help you with that. Here's our deal. We'll have one of our sales reps call you (please supply your number and a good time to contact you) and for a fee of 800 dollars a month you can sponsor the page. As a sponsor you will be able to delete comments you find objectionable. It's really a great value for yelp's marketing budget. Sound familiar?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pay Per Yelp

Despite their misleading tagline, "Real People, Real Reviews", Yelp pays people to post Worse, yet there is no disclosure on these paid hacks, so you have no idea who is real or who is a plant.

Even more interesting are the comments below the article including one from founder, Jeremy Stoppelman, who says that the article "misrepresented our marketing programs by insinuating that users often interact with paid shills and that's simply not the case."

Thanks Jeremy, but it just doesn't jive with your craig's list job posting:

Yelp.com Hiring Witty Writers with Flair for Social Networking”:

"This critical role includes:

· Writing witty and insightful reviews of all the places you frequent.

· Getting your well-written friends (and their friends to join Yelp and start writing

· Moderating the Talk Boards, creating Lists, sending Compliments, and generally being a model Yelp community member

· Spreading the word about Yelp to the broader community.

The right candidate:

a. Knows Atlanta’s hot spots and influencers

b. Is extremely well-written

c. Is one of those “connectors” that makes other people want to follow them.”

Hey Jeremy,

So let me get this straight. Your "marketing assistants" "critical role" is for " Writing witty and insightful reviews of all the places you frequent."

here's the definition of shill:

1.a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc.

Thanks for the update Jeremy. You have confirmed for everyone Yelp hires paid shills.

"Real Shills, Paid Reviews."