Beware: Yelp Sues Company for Writing Positive Reviews

admin • September 09, 2013

As long as Yelp.com has been in existence, people have looked for ways to game the system. They'd like their scores to be as high as possible, and rather than focusing on delivering a quality product with a decent amount of customer service expertise, they focus on making up positive comments and posting them online.

It's a reasonable approach, as a study from BrightLocal found that 79 percent of shoppers trust an online review as much as they'd trust a recommendation that came from a personal friend. Consumers seem willing to make financial decisions based on the information they see online, so one negative review could quickly cost a company big money. Fixing those poor reviews, as quickly as possible, is a good goal for any company facing a Yelp threat.

On the other hand, Yelp's reputation is also threatened by companies that post fake reviews. Each lie could make consumers trust the site just a little less, and they might visit the site a little less frequently as a result. Not surprisingly, then, Yelp has a history of being downright draconian when it comes to dealing with fake reviews. In the past, the company has sued online firms that hope to create and sell fake Yelp ads. Yelp technicians have also plastered a "Consumer Alert" on businesses that are suspected of buying or posting fraudulent ads. But a new case seems to indicate that the Yelp strategy is shifting, and that companies that choose to fake reviews are taking real risks with their financial future.

The latest lawsuit involves a company that fought back against a negative review with an onslaught of positive reviews. All of these happy thoughts were written by the employees of the slandered company, the lawsuit claims, and as a result, they violate the terms of service for Yelp and represent false advertising. Court records indicate that Yelp is seeking damages in excess of $25,000, which just shows how serious Yelp really is about punishing a company that chooses to cheat. It's hard to know how this case will turn out. The charges regarding false advertising might not stick, some writers suggest, as the employees of the company weren't consumers that bought a product. They're posing as consumers, yes, but they're not really advertising a product as much as talking about their workplace in a specious way.

It's possible that the whole case might be thrown out altogether, since the main argument might not hold water. But even so, the reputation of this company might never be the same. They've been accused of public lying, in an attempt to overwhelm the voice of a consumer, and running a search for this company's name might always been sketchy as a result. They just don't seem honest now, and that might hurt their chances of getting consumers in the future. This whole thing could have been avoided.

Negative Yelp reviews sometimes violate the company's terms of service, and they're easily removed. Those that can't be deleted can sometimes be softened with a few calming words placed immediately below the negativity. It's quick and simple, and we can make it happen.

Visit www.internetreputation.com to find out more.