is Extorting Businesses? is a popular website that I have advocated for on this site and countless times to my friends, family, and other online contacts.

The idea of is simple: it’s an online site where anyone can leave a review on any business or address. For example, are you looking for a Chinese restaurant in NE Portland, Oregon? Yelp can help steer you in the direction of one and give you first-hand reviews of patrons to help form your opinion.

However, according to the East Bay Express, the newspaper has found many instances of sales people calling restaurants and, for a price, offering to move negative reviews down on the page.

This would make the business appear more appealing because, to an unknowing Yelp user, the positive reviews for the restaurant would bubble to the top, making that restaurant’s reviews more favorable.

This is outright EXTORTION with a capital E, if the allegations are true! Depending on how this shakes out, I may stop Yelping immediately.

I have some contacts at Yelp and will be following up with what I find out!

UPDATE:’s CEO responded with a blog post.

  • Well I have used Yelp too and was pretty pleased with their service and ratings ..

    but now i might have to look for an alternative site !

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  • Jose

    I have always heard about these shady stories and this is a confirmation of Yelp’s bad practices.

    Here is a free alternative to Yelp for local businesses:

  • Pingback: Yelp sur le banc des accusés pour corruption et chantage | Techmeme@MyRecap()

  • clara

    and here is an another alternative.

  • Michael Lerman

    I also start to have some questions about the business practices of Yelp. I am a realtor and thought that it is a good idea to register with Yelp. With my website I started to redirect my customers to the yelp site, inviting them to write a review on me. Soon after I got few positive reviews, I was contacted by Kathrine, a Yelp sales representative. She spent 20mn over the phone with me with a demo about the paid service that Yelp offer to their subscribers. I was not interested by the paid service so the discussion ended. The interesting part is what happened after this phone conversation. I tried to find the the few reviews on my business. They magically disapeared. In addition the business that I entered on Yelp became “unclaimed”. Coincidence!
    If I had to rate Yelp, you know what grade I will give them. Now I am looking for Yalt the Yelp Alternative. Let’s create it!

    • Charlesmandel

      I had similar things happen with me.. I HATE YELP!!!! Charles Mandel

  • Lisa

    Oh, they already hurt small businesses. There is nothing “objective” about Yelp reviews. My business has about 22 Yelp reviews, but every time a customer posts a positive review, it is hidden form the viewer. However, I still have the only 2 negative reviews our business received, over 4 years ago, posted prominently on the front page. And no, I am not an advertiser.

  • emily57

    I have 3 reviews, all 3 are negative I have people submitting negative comments. This so call customers that don’t have any record or transaction with the company. This negative reviews are what Yelp banks on it. Giving bad reviews they want you to joint them and make the reviews disappear. Some of this bad reviews are your competition, trying to make you look bad. But Yelp banks on that hoping that you join them and give them money. Did you notice that there is no site to review Yelp. Do you ever wonder why? They know they will be out of business if that was the case. Extortion, manipulation of freedom of speech, yes to all of the above.

  • Jax

    did you stop yelping? I hope you did. Check out my facebook page