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  1. #1
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    This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    I have a pediatric dentist whose Yelp listing has only 1 review. That review is a 1 star and it is a doozy. The Yelper calls her a racist and makes some crazy accusations.

    The dentist told me that she asked patients to leave a review on her Yelp listing to water down the negative one. Every review was filtered! I've heard about this in the past and she assured me that:
    • the patients left reviews at their home (not office)
    • a number of patients are active Yelpers
    • the reviews were over a 12 month span


    The dentist told me that she spoke w/ an ex Yelp employee who's now with a big dental/auto review/patient communication company (hint: DF). This ex Yelp employee told that her listing has been "black listed" by Yelp and she will have to pay for advertising in order to unfilter future reviews.

    Like I told her, I can't believe that a company as big as Yelp can get away with extortion and that was a bold accusation by the ex Yelp employee.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the ex Yelp employee was just pissed off and told her some BS story to smear Yelp.

    I know Yelp is a PITA and there are lots of blog posts out there about how Yelp sucks, but she's claiming Yelp is outright extorting her- or at least attempting to.

    Has anyone else here heard similar stories?
    Chris Ratchford
    Prodentite
    Dental SEO & Websites

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  3. #2
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    You have not heard this before Chris?

    There are tons of allegations like this and many major news stories about it have hit the major news sites. Not saying any are true just saying it's been going on a long time and many of those companies that claim to have been extorted claim to have proof.

    Just Google Yelp extortion
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

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  4. #3
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    I've heard of local business owners accusing Yelp of not playing fair. But this is a first- having an ex Yelp employee tell my client.

    Yes- this is hearsay- I was told by my client. But what intrigued me was the source.
    Chris Ratchford
    Prodentite
    Dental SEO & Websites

  5. #4
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    Interesting anecdote, Chris. Even if it is hearsay, it has a familiar ring. Yelp - that giant in the online reputation world - has some pretty serious reputation management issues of its own. These have been building for years, and it seems to me that I am hearing a greater-than-usual number of complaints recently. Whether these repeat issues stem from poor training practices at Yelp or an actual intent to extort money, I certainly can't say, but Yelp has a problem on its hands and it won't go away by ignoring it.
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    Yes there have been a couple new stories about this problem or allegation just in the last couple weeks, so I agree with you Miriam, seems almost like it's getting worse not better.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  7. #6
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    We need creative ways to use negative reviews to get a positive reaction!

    Name:  1 Star Yelp.jpg
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  8. #7
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    LOL! Good one Michael!
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  9. #8
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    Having followed this issue for some time, I believe that Yelp has reformed its sales practices in recent years in response to criticism and lawsuits, but it has almost certainly engaged in extortion-like behavior in the past.

    An ex-Yelp employee from years ago would likely have witnessed blacklisting if not full-blown blackmail. The evidence collected by investigative journalists is extensive -- It can't all be sour grapes! e.g., http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oaklan...nt?oid=1176635

    But as a public company, Yelp is much more cautious today. And correlation does not mean causation when trying to understand Yelp's review filter. Still, does the company now use its unassailable "natural" filter algorithm to cloak unsavory practices of creating pain and rewarding payers? I don't know.

    Keeping a sense of humor about it is a good way to stay sane and shrug off the bad reviews -- or else turn them into a net gain! Thanks MichaelJ! (Here is the source of that photo he shared, BTW:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1633755.html )

  10. #9
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    While researching another issue, I just came across Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman's rebuttal of the East Bay Express piece I quoted above:
    http://officialblog.yelp.com/2009/02...y-express.html

    I suppose the issue remains a "he said, she said" one. Still, no doubt Yelp salespeople are more conscious of these allegations/perceptions today than they were 5 years ago--I'd be surprised if they didn't make a concerted effort now to avoid any implication of blackmail or even explicitly disavow it.

  11. #10
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    Re: This can't be true- Yelp blacklisting local biz?

    I had a conversation about this issue w/ a local social media consultant. She said that local Yelp reps have the ability to report local businesses that are aggressively soliciting reviews and can blacklist local businesses so that their reviews are filtered.

    Her suggestion is to reach out and try to build a relationship with the local Yelp rep and ask them how my clients can "play by the rules" and explain the situation.

    My concern is that if I get the local Yelp rep involved, their job is to sell paid listings. My client has no desire to buy ads from Yelp, especially after their experience with the filtered reviews.
    Chris Ratchford
    Prodentite
    Dental SEO & Websites

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