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: Uber: As drivers get perks, riders losing patience on privacy snafus

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

BlackBerry courts iPhone users with cash

18 hours ago

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is wooing Apple customers with a cash offer for trade-ins of iPhones for its new square-screened, keyboard-equipped Passport.

HP earnings show continued struggle

19 hours ago

Venerable tech giant Hewlett-Packard has been struggling for three years to turn its business around. Its latest earnings show it still has more work ahead.

Apple market value hits $700 bn

Nov 25, 2014

A rise in Apple shares Tuesday pushed the market value of the trend-setting US tech icon above $700 billion, becoming the first company to hit that milestone.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.