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Why Some Businesses Really Hate Yelp

An anonymous reader quotes Slate:

The overall argument of Billion Dollar Bully, the new documentary about Yelp released on Amazon and iTunes in May, is that Yelp extorts small business owners for advertising fees in return for helping to manage and improve reviews on their platform… Yelp has fought back against the allegations made in the film, arguing that “There has never been a connection between ratings and reviews on Yelp and buying advertising….” But the issue for small business owners has always been broader than advertising: Local businesses feel that Yelp offers no due process to resolve disputes and misunderstandings. That’s because the company’s standard position is to absolve itself of any responsibility to get involved….

Yelp is combating the claims made in the film by purchasing the domain BillionDollarBully.com and redirecting it to a Yelp page that explains that the company does not extort local businesses to manipulate ratings.

The Hustle argues that despite “legions” of anecdotal evidence from business owners, “the linkage between these two things ultimately can’t be proven without transparency around Yelp’s filtering algorithm.” This is apparently leaving some restauranteurs feeling powerless and angry:

In isolated bids to circumvent the “oppression” of online reviews, business owners have plunked “NO YELPERS” signs in their windows, shamed rude reviewers on Instagram, and launched anti-Yelp websites. Dan Neves, a waiter at a fine dining establishment in Austin, Texas, created YELP BULLIES EXPOSED, a private Facebook group that tracks down rude Yelpers and sends them a one-pound bag of animal feces… “I’ve had friends get fired over bad Yelp reviews, even if the review was untrue,” says Neves.

ReviewFraud.org investigated the people interviewed for the documentary, and suggested that in some cases the real victims may be Yelp’s unsuspecting reviewers. “A few negative reviewers claimed that the owner harassed them or contacted their employer to have them fired.”

Billion Dollar Bully raised money on Kickstarter. I was excited to see this film see the light of day. Sadly, I was disappointed… not all businesses are good, not all business owners are reputable, and not all pieces of investigative “journalism” are credible. Had the filmmakers taken a closer look at these business and other review platforms, I doubt that this movie would have been made. I’ve made that clear by looking at the reviews of those claiming extortion. For me, this was a massive failure and should be titled A Billion Dollar Scapegoat.


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