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Is Yelp Ripping Small Business Owners Off?

From a great candid review by Raymond Fong:

Maybe you know and maybe you don’t… but Yelp (a local search and reviews online service) offers paid advertising for businesses called the “Yelp Sponsorship Program“.

To sum it up, according to the page advertising this opportunity, this Yelp Sponsorship program allows you to:

  • Put up a slideshow of the images of your business.
  • Highlight a user’s review that you like the most (as the business owner)
  • Promote your business as a sponsored search result and on your competitors’ business pages. Target potential clients while they are making decisions about where to spend their money on a business like yours

It sounds all fancy spansy right? Sounds like you get even MORE control over your business listing which will help “put your best foot forward” and sneak attack your competitors, stealing all their would be clients.
But Stop the Music, Do These Yelp Advertising Features Actually Accomplish Anything? Or are They Just Fluff Designed to Lure You in so They can Zap You?
Suck Them in & Then ZAP Them!
Before we proceed, I’d like to first state that my experience and knowledge of this Yelp Sponsorship program comes from dealing with them on behalf of one of my clients. This client signed up with Yelp (despite my warnings – apparently Yelp’s salesman are SMOOOTH) and I got to learn all about this program.
Having said that, that’s only ONE experience which doesn’t make me an expert but it certainly makes me more knowledgeable of this Yelp marketing program than those who’s never experienced it.
Furthermore, in case you are not familiar with how Yelp works, anybody can post a business on Yelp, as long as it falls under one of their categories and is a “fit” per their policies. And the rightful owner can claim that Yelp page by jumping through some hoops and voila, you have a FREE listing about your business.

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About the author

Adryenn Ashley

Adryenn Ashley is the mediagenic founder of Wow! Is Me. As an award winning filmmaker and actress she is used to transforming herself and others into riveting onscreen characters. Now she uses her well honed techniques to transform everyday entrepreneurs into wildly successful business celebrities. As a mentor to CEOs worldwide, she is directly responsible for adding significant revenue to her client's bottom line. For information on how you can work with Adryenn Ashley, go to http://wowisme.net.

Permanent link to this article: http://yelp-sucks.com/is-yelp-ripping-small-business-owners-off.html

52 comments

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  1. karris

    I would highly recommend that people NOT talk to any of Yelp's telemarketers calling and enticing you to set up a free trial account. What they don't tell you is that your ad will keep running after the credits have run out and you'll wind up paying for the last month. I was billed $270 for a listing that did not bring me a single lead in three months time. When I called for a refund I was referred to fine print I'd never seen, since I signed up on the phone. Obviously the company's culture is that of slick scammers.

    Yelp totally sucks

  2. Debbie Ironside

    I wish I found this page before I signed up for Yelp Advertisement…… Misleading liars and crooks. So very terrible how big companies have the power to take money under false advertisement and when discovered they keep taking it. I cancelled the very next day I signed up and they would not accept my cancellation and took money for 3 months. I even went to my bank and blocked them and they got around that! Disgusting.

  3. Mark

    Something is inherently wrong with Yelp reviews! Google is accurate Yelp has bogus reviews! From what I have read they use bullying tactics to get businesses to advertise with them!

  4. chuckcaine

    I paid for a three month agreement with YELP , gave them a 30 day notice and they still charged me an extra month. They brought me nothing for a $1600 investment. They talk a good talk but bring NOTHING to the table then they play the 30 day notice for as long as they can. Do not invest with these people.

    What is terrible is that I pulled funds from another advertising tool that was working to give them a try based on their promises and therefore took a double hit because I got nothing from them and lost the leads I was getting from the other source.

    They are a leach to small businesses that need their help the most.

  5. BussOwn

    Someone needs to start a website in the same. It would be to rate consumer help sites such as Angie's List, FaceBook, FourSquare, GoodSnitch, Google Reviews, Manta, Merchant Circle.com, and especially the phoniest BS, thieving, lying, deceptive, criminal, slandering one of them all YELP !!!!!

    1. scoty

      I hear you. They to get me to sign up. They just hit my bank account for 2x what i had expected…. They lie!! They suck!#

  6. Ryan westenhaver

    Yelp is so misleading made me think i was signing up for a program for just under $200 a month and it turns out to be about $1000 a month im so pissed now they are screwing me wow wow wow i hate yelp

  7. Jack

    Yelp is just trying to push us small business owner advertising by hidding good reviews and posting only negative ones! This is a shady company without any future!

  8. Sydney Griffin

    just to second everyone, be very careful with Yelp PLEASE NEVER NEVER NEVER ENTER YOUR BUSINESS INFO
    OR YOUR INFO ON THIS WEBSITE IT CAN NEVER BE DELETED!!! THEY WILL LOCK YOUR ACCOUNT AND CLAIM TO BE CITY HALL AND POST YOUR INFORMATION TO THE WORLD AS PUBLIC INFORMATION!!!
    i will help finance a class action lawsuit contact me.

    1. scott w.

      I would like to join this… They lied to me badly…

    2. Alex K.

      Me too, yelp marketing personnel contacted me. They put my business information online. I didn't like their service after finding out their so called advertising is a bluff! I stop my account and change my credit card. Yelp become my enemy, I received negative comments intended to kills and wipe out my small business. Yelp did not give me a chance to respond to those clients. My company has completed successfully more than a thousand service calls, with happy customers, but we had only 4 unhappy customers that yelp use to hammer my business.
      I don't advice anyone to join yelp.

  9. Donald Moore

    Yelp is ripping me off!!! How do I get totally away from them?? I am sick of their crap. They have not brought a single new customer to my small business!! I wish I had seen these reviews before I signed on with them! I want out of my contract with them without paying the exorbitant fee they are requesting to get away from them.

    1. PATRICIA PAIGERAC

      I am in the same situation as you.
      Have you found a solution?

  10. Ahsan Rashid

    Someone who was not even my customer wrote me a bad review. Don't know why. Yelp has filtered my good reviews. Less than 2% of my clicks come from yelp. So I am not worried. Yelp has a inflated sense of its worth. Google+ reviews is a better option

  11. Happy

    Yelp is really disgusting the way they try and rip u off…..I have had genuine 5 star reviews…they filtered 75% of them as they, the stalwarts of truth! said they were fake….they are all genuine. NOW….NOTE, THEY CALL ME SND WANT $$$250 A MONTH TO GIVE ME MORE COVERAGE AND THEY WILL UNFILTERED MY FILTERED REVIEWS OF 5 STARS…….IWHAT AUDACITY, CHUTZPAH…FIRST THEY STAB U IN THE BACK AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY ARE YOUR FRIEND CAUSE THEY WANT YOUR CASH……SOOOO DUMB TO FALL FOR THAT AND WHAT PROOF DO U HAVE THEY WILL DO BETYER FOR YOU….BUNCH OF SCUMBAGS, GREEDY PIGS……EVERYTHING HETE IN THE US IS ABOUT GREED AND MONEY, NO VALUES AND DONT CATE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS ONLY WHAT YHEY CAN EXTORT FROM YOU…..NO WONDER AMERICA IS GOING TO HELL.

    1. Sergio Villalva

      urban-go.com

      Better than yelp. Similar in ever aspect except able to edit comments and reviews. Section for Deals as well similar to groupon and living social except no money is taken from the deals you profit.

      Free section as well.

  12. Frank A

    I'd like to sue their asses too. Here is a company that sucks and I will try whatever means possible to get my business off their piece of sh** website. Today I entered m 20 year of business in the restaurant business and have been working hard for a long time to earn a good reputation. In recent years lets say the last 5 I've noticed more and more negatives popping up the more I tell Yelp to shove it when they call. I have also had some disgruntled ex employees set out on a mission to tarnish my reputation. And then theres the lady from outta town who tried my food once at a motel and may have not had a bad experience at all. Who knows maybe she didn't get Side or she realized there is a delivery fee so she has a tif for a minute, but her negative comment will be there forever to tarnish my rep and hurt my business. Some very smart attorney somewhere will eventually roll the dice against these pricks. Can you imagine what these bastards are scheeming up next to extort money from small business in America. I'd love to get my hands on them anyway for now I'm gonna do what one person did file with the BBB and respond to ever bad comment the same way they did to get the comment removed. This is such BS, anyone want to storm the headquarters with me, I'd love to scare the sh** out of them. Im all in on a class action suit.

  13. DMH

    I signed a contract with Yelp stating only 3 months. They put it in writing, 3 month contract. Yelp took $$$ for 6 months. I called and complained and stated that my contract said three months. They told me I had to notify them in writing to cancel it. My business closes in a few days, so their bad reviews won't effect me. I am mad as hell, they feel they are above the contract and they do not have to honor the three months. Small businesses do not usually have dollars for advertising, ripping businesses off is just wrong.

    Thank you for the Better Business idea, will do that for sure. I will do what I need to try to get my money back. Already have stopped Yelp from charging my card by cancelling it. Working with my bank to file a complaint for the charges and will let my bank battle with Yelp. I am not planning on getting my money back, but I sure as hell can make sure the drama will cost them money. They have to pay someone to respond to the bank and me!

    If only the public knew how being a small business is like being your own army!

    DMH

    1. yelphater

      The public is slowly starting to learn about this horrible company.

    2. Pat

      DMH.
      Having the same issue. They claim to record only their side of the conversation. I told them the same thing. I wanted it stopped after 3 months ONLY and sure enough, they took more out this month. I've complained and they say that I have to have something in writting showing I only wanted 3 months. What!? I've asked for the recorded conversation and will probably not get it. I'll try and keep you all updated. Maybe there is some kind of lawsuit everyone can be a part of.

    3. scott w.

      I am in the same boat. I am about to change my bank info… They were supposed to take $133, but somehow stole $299.43…. There is supposed to be a $275 ceiling… They lie… Class Action Suit is NEEDED against yelp..

  14. watson jones

    1st they will call you 100 times to say how great it will be for your business! Then they make u sigh an expensive LONG TERM contract of at least 6 months! Then after you get absolutely NO results for the 1000's of dollars you GAVE YELP FOR NOTHING, & honor your contract, YELP then puts you on a MONTH to MONTH contract to get more of your money!!! They will not call you to ask if you'd like to go month to month, they just quietly TAKE MORE of YOU MONEY & Give no results! DO NOT ADVERTISE WITH YELP, IT'S A RIP OFF. TRUST ME I MADE THAT MISTAKE! BEWARE!!!

  15. Abe

    I wonder why Reseller ratings would be different. they are the same Crooks. they should be exposed as well. Google them and you will see.

  16. Yelp Chapter 13

    Everyone who has a business on yelp has negative reviews, funny how yelp itself is not listed so people can list a review for them. Here is what I did to get the negative reviews of yelp FOR FREE!!! 1.) File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau over the sales practice and request to get your business removed from yelp. 2.) On EVERY review you have for yelp put a public comment like this.. "Yelp called us and wants $450 to post positive reviews now… WE HAVE NO BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH YELP NOR DO WE WANT ONE…. Sounds like extortion or blackmail to us. We filed a claim against Yelp with the better business bureau and contacted an attorney in CA. to get our site removed from Yelp. Really hope http://Yelp.com goes out of business A.S.A.P." or this for negative reviews…"Yelp called us and wants $450 to remove bogus negative reviews… WE HAVE NO BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH YELP NOR DO WE WANT ONE…. Sounds like extortion or blackmail to us. We filed a claim against Yelp with the better business bureau and contacted an attorney in CA. to get our site removed from Yelp. Really hope http://Yelp.com goes out of business A.S.A.P."… doing these things worked for me.

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