Federal Trade Commission Releases 685 Yelp Complaints

Somebody did their homework and filed a Freedom of Information Act request

In light of the terrible extortion-like entitlement that has come to light with the ReviewerCard, MuckRock has released information from a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Trade Commission, asking for every Yelp.com complaint in the last four years.

The results? Pretty much what was expected. Out of the 685 complaints, plenty were about Yelp soliciting businesses to buy advertisements; if businesses declined, complaints said Yelp deleted positive reviews due to an updated "automated algorithm" for a "truer" sense of the reviews. According to most of the complaints, advertising fees cost anywhere from $300 to $350 a month.

Sample quotes call Yelp the "thug of the Internet" as well as the "Internet Mafia." While most complaints deal with the "pay-for-advertising-or-pay" deal, other business owners complain that they never wanted to be listed on Yelp in the first place. Owners also complained about false information, wrong addresses, and Yelp's refusal to delete faked reviews.

"I don't think it's fair practice," one business owner who bought the advertising membership wrote in. "If you don't pay for the membership you don't have a chance to rebuttal the comments. I am very afraid of this company because they have the power to make any restaurant go out of business." Head on over to MuckRock and Eater for similar complaints (or a giant Excel sheet of all the complaints, ever).

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