Review website Yelp.com sued, accused of 'extortion'

Feb 24, 2010
Yelp.com, a website which posts reviews of businesses and services by users, is being sued, accused of "extortion" for allegedly offering to remove negative reviews in exchange for payment.

Yelp.com, a website which posts reviews of businesses and services by users, is being sued, accused of "extortion" for allegedly offering to remove negative reviews in exchange for payment.

The lawsuit against the San Francisco-based Inc. was filed in a Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday on behalf of a veterinary hospital in Long Beach, California, the law firms behind the suit said in a statement.

"Yelp runs an extortion scheme in which the company's employees call businesses demanding monthly payments, in the guise of 'advertising contracts,' in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews," they said.

Veterinary hospital, Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital Inc., had asked that Yelp remove a "false and defamatory review" from the website, they said.

Yelp refused and "instead, the company's sales representatives repeatedly contacted the hospital and demanded a roughly 300-dollar-per-month payment in exchange for hiding or removing the negative review," they alleged.

"We believe that Yelp's sales tactics amount to high-tech extortion," said Jared Beck, co-managing partner of Beck & Lee Business Trial Lawyers, which filed the lawsuit along with The Weston Firm.

"The victims tend to be small businesses, such as our client, who often have no choice but to pay Yelp exorbitant sums in order to prevent further harm to their livelihoods," Beck said.

In a statement, Vince Sollitto, Yelp's vice president of communications, said he had not yet seen the suit but vowed to "dispute it aggressively."

"Yelp provides a valuable service to millions of consumers and businesses based on our trusted content," Sollitto said.

"The allegations are demonstrably false, since many businesses that advertise on Yelp have both negative and positive reviews," he said.

"These businesses realize that both kinds of feedback provide authenticity and value," he said. "Running a good business is hard; filing a lawsuit is easy."

Explore further: Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Yelp to let businesses comment publicly on reviews

Apr 09, 2009

(AP) -- The review Web site Yelp, which has garnered some criticism from the businesses put under its microscope, will soon let those businesses and others respond publicly to customers' critiques.

Social Web sites face transparency questions

Mar 22, 2009

(AP) -- Yelp.com prides itself on being a site where people can write reviews about pretty much anything and connect with similarly critical peers. Yet as the site grows, some of the businesses scrutinized on Yelp are turning ...

Would a Google purchase of Yelp draw regulatory interest?

Dec 21, 2009

Google Inc.'s reported plans to acquire local-listings service Yelp may face difficulties, with regulators attuned to the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's established dominance of the Internet-search and advertising ...

Use texting as reminder

Jan 28, 2009

There are lots of things you hear while you're out that you might want to remember later, such as the name of a movie to rent, restaurants to try or shows to program on the DVR.

Recommended for you

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

21 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

States ascend into the cloud

Oct 24, 2014

Seven years ago, the state of Delaware started moving computer servers out of closets and from under workers' desks to create a consolidated data center and a virtual computing climate.

Microsoft drops Nokia name from smartphones

Oct 24, 2014

Microsoft said Friday it was dropping the Nokia name from its Lumia smartphones, rebranding following the acquisition earlier this year of the Finnish group's handset division.

Amazon's loss makes holidays a question mark

Oct 24, 2014

Amazon's trademark smile icon is becoming more of a grimace. The world's largest online retailer reported a wider third-quarter loss than analysts expected and gave a disappointing holiday forecast.

User comments : 0