“Why do some negative assessments on Yelp seem to disappear? Can businesses with bad reviews on Yelp pay or persuade the online review site to erase unflattering opinions?
John Olsen in Schaumburg, Illinois thinks so. He was fired from his job for what he says was his questioning of his firm’s ethical practices. He thinks the world should be able to see his unvarnished assessment on review sites such as Yelp.
“I have also been monitoring Yelp, and I can testify that it appears to be fixed,” he said. “I know of several negative reviews that were posted about my former employer that were true. However, they have been filtered out, so that their rating does not affect the total rating.”
“One of the reviews that has been filtered was written while I was working for the company,” Olsen said. “I was told by a manager that my former employer requested that Yelp do something with the negative rating.”
For years, Yelp has faced accusations and even legal fights over the issue of whether companies can pay their way out of negative reviews. It has firmly denied such allegations. “I want to make it 100 percent clear that there has never been any amount of money a business can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews,” said spokeswoman Hannah Cheesman.”
“Companies can also ask Yelp to consider removing certain reviews if they violate the site’s terms of service. Such terms set out that users must be at least 18 years old and cannot be “writing a fake or defamatory review, trading reviews with other businesses, or compensating someone or being compensated to write or remove a review.” Revealing confidential information is also barred.
Some sites and blogs have a policy of never removing negative reviews. Such a policy has the advantage of presenting unvarnished opinion, but allows those with an ax to grind to unfairly tar companies and individuals, often anonymously.”
(Notice who gets to decide “unfairly” – ed)
From wired.com: Yelp Accused of Extortion BY KIM ZETTER 02.24.10
“Yelp, the online review site, is being accused of extortion in a class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles this week.
The suit alleges that the site tried to get a Long Beach veterinary hospital named Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital to pay $300 a month — for a minimum 12-month commitment — to suppress or delete reviews that disparaged the hospital.
The popular San Francisco–based site Yelp is one of the leading sites for consumers to post reviews and comments about their local businesses and services. It touts its integrity with the slogan: “Real people. Real reviews.” The company was founded in 2004 and has spread throughout the Unitd States. It launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland last year.
But according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court (.pdf) for the Central District of California, the site manipulates the reviews, and therefore a business’ ratings, through an extortion scheme that offers to remove a business’ negative reviews or relocate them to the bottom of a listing page where fewer visitors will see them, if the business purchases a monthly advertising subscription.”