Yelp Gets Bad Reviews Over Its Business Practices

Some say it plays rough in the world of online reviews.

(Image credit: pichet_w)

Yelp has long been accused of acting like the Tony Soprano of online reviews. Companies claim that Yelp favors advertisers by emphasizing their search results and reviews. Some businesses say Yelp has tried to persuade them to buy ads by offering to make negative reviews disappear — or tried to strong-arm them by threatening to delete positive comments. A few companies banded together in 2010 to sue the firm over such practices. And some Yelp shareholders have sued, too, claiming the company inflated its revenues by coercing businesses to advertise. More than 2,000 complaints about Yelp have also piled up at the Federal Trade Commission, which has scrutinized Yelp’s ad-sales tactics and “recommendation” software, used to highlight reviews deemed the most useful to consumers.

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Daren Fonda
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Daren joined Kiplinger in July 2015 after spending more than 20 years in New York City as a business and financial writer. He spent seven years at Time magazine and joined SmartMoney in 2007, where he wrote about investing and contributed car reviews to the magazine. Daren also worked as a writer in the fund industry for Janus Capital and Fidelity Investments and has been licensed as a Series 7 securities representative.