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Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppleman Had One Thing Right

Jeremy Stoppleman, CEO of Yelp.comIn 2008 Yelp first did a massive clean sweep, claiming to delete spammers accounts. I got swept up in the mess. I’m not a spammer. I never wrote a review for a product or service I didn’t use. And every review I received for my business was from a very well satisfied client. But the truth didn’t matter. The almighty Jeremy Stoppleman, CEO and Founder of Yelp had his opinion and that was that. All my work writing reviews, all my work product (to which they had a license to use, not destroy) was gone. And in place of all the hundreds of links I had peppered all over the internet leading people to my profile on Yelp, was a page proclaiming me a spammer.  When calls to the company and emails to the founder got me no relief, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

It took me about 5 minutes to launch YelpLawsuit.com and Yelp-Sucks.com (I would have bought YelpSucks.com but Yelp already owned it)! Within days we had national news coverage and thousands of registered businesses who wanted justice. And since then I’ve been waging a battle against the unfair business practices Yelp employs that has left so many honest local business on life support, or worse, in the morgue.

I haven’t spoken to Yelp‘s CEO since the clean sweep in 2008. I argued that I hadn’t violated any Terms of Service. Show me where! Show me the line item and what I did and I’ll back off! But he couldn’t. Because I didn’t. But that didn’t change how he characterized everyone they deleted, mostly members of Ladies Who Launch, eWomenNetwork and BNI. Networking groups where we see each other all the time. The point of these groups IS to do business with one another, so why would it be a violation of the Terms of Service to review the products and services we bought? Technically, it isn’t…

Here’s where Jeremy and I ultimately reached a sort of de-taunt. He gave me this scenario: I review a business for their great service. All is fabulous. Other people read my review and based on my recommendation, they buy the service. After a while, something happens with the service provider… drinking, drugs, divorce, something that significantly affects the quality of service. Because this person is someone I see every month, or week, would I be willing to recant my endorsement, or lower the rating. I acknowledged that would be a sticky situation and that this could present a “conflict of interest”. This is where we agreed. It’s a conflict of interest. Not a violation of the Terms of Service. And since I only review the best, I felt, in reality, while the above scenario was a possibility, it was seriously remote. And for 5 years I was right.

Today, I have to acknowledge that what Jeremy said could happen, has happened… sort of. While it wasn’t the direct result of actions by one of my networking connections, but she does work at the place I recommended after having fantastic over the top service. I was still telling everyone, months later (I have a big mouth and if I love you, everybody knows it). I loved my salesperson, it was the perfect transaction! I must have sent a couple dozen people there.  And then the phone call yesterday…

The company had fired my salesperson because he wouldn’t do something that he knew is a felony. Turns out they do this a lot, and there is now going to be a class action suit against the business. So while my experience was AWESOME and I would stand behind the service I got from my salesperson, and my networking connection who brought me there is still amazing and fantastic, I can no longer recommend the business. As a customer, it was great, but knowing the behind the scenes drama, I want no part of it.

So here’s the sticky situation… My reviews get read. I have had many Review of the Day’s on Yelp leading to massive traffic for the business. Do I downgrade my review, delete my review, or leave it alone… This was the conflict of interest situation I really never thought I’d be in. The very situation Jeremy predicted.

In the end I deleted it because I know the massive lawsuit coming is going to say everything that needs saying.  And this is where I have to give credit where it is due. This scenario never occurred to me, but it did to Jeremy. And I have to acknowledge his foresight. If we hadn’t had that conversation 5 years ago I wouldn’t have been prepared to handle this situation.

Yelp is a double edged sword. It has its place. A negative review from a customer that is willing to work it out can lead to a fair resolution with a company that might not be playing fair. But it also allows competitors to make false reviews unchecked and doesn’t account for the vengeful ex employee or hateful customers that just want to ruin you. There needs to be a balance to keep it fair, just, and useful. They aren’t there yet, and without a change in attitude I doubt they’ll ever see the black on the balance sheet.

Yelp.com’s couldn’t care less attitude drives over 30,000 unique visits a month to Yelp-Sucks.com, and every week I get calls from business owners who have been railroaded by Yelp. They call me because I answer the phone. Something Yelp.com should be doing to take care of their bread and butter revenue stream, business owners.

So, to everyone reviewing their friends… there may come a day when you have to recant. Are you going to do it publicly like Tom Antion did when he recinded every recommendation he ever made about James Malinchak? Will you confront the person, ask what’s going on and help them regain their former glory? Or will you simply delete your review and let nature take it’s course. Big decisions… I hope I made the right one… (7497)

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/yelps-ceo-jeremy-stoppleman-had-one-thing-right.html

8 comments

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  1. Malgo

    Dear Adryenn,
    I am a very small business owner. I do a bridal alterations. I have a 5 stage kidney disease, and I am on a transplant list.
    I do my work only a part time or less, but I do it very, very well. I have my studio set up at home and this is the only thing that I am able to do in my condition. I was doing very well with all 4-5 stars reviews except yelp. Since I refused to purchase an advertisement on yelp my good reviews are disappearing (at yelp only). But that's not my main issue, because until now I had only good reviews. I had three, now there is only one. This week I had a horrible experience with a client refusing to pay for my services, attacking me, threatening with a bad reviews and injuring my husband and me. The Police had to be called and we both ended up in an emergency room. This person now keeps posting a negative reviews on yelp. One was removed by yelp, it was a way inapropriate, another one showed up right away. I contacted yelp and explained the problem, asked them to dig deeper into it. I want to present them with a Police report and a hospital documentation. I also asked them for this person to present them with a proof of finalized business. They simply don't care. My reputation is being destroyed, simply because yelp allowed for it. I don't want to be taking this client to court, she has a brain cancer, she could be mentally ill, I don't know. Would that make yelp to look further into such crazy review, I don't know. I asked them to remove my business listing from yelp, THEY DON'T CARE. It's 6 years of my hard, hard work and my life that is being destroyed. My little shop is really keeping me alive and not thinking about my illness. No one will hire my in my condition. Does YELP care??? NO! They just want your MONEY. They estimated my income to be $43.000. I made $4000 last year and $11000 this year. HEEELLLLPPPPP PLEEEEASEEE!!!!!!!!
    Thank you with all my hear for any response and even more for any help.
    Malgo

  2. WE HATE HELP

    I hope you don't mind I post some of your article on We hate yelp FB page .

    1. yelp-sucks.com

      Go for it. And did you hear about the epic Town Hall Meeting in LA? I found out about it like 20 minutes before so I couldn't fly down. Sounds like there were some fireworks!

  3. Sandra Grass

    I own a small company that has been in business since 1980. We provide event staffing for private parties in people's homes and host over 2000 events a year with a very small profit margin. I started an advertising campaign with Yelp as they contacting me with the promise of generating more traffic to our stellar 5 star reviews – well over a hundred over the past few years. Not only were we not satisfied with the campaign, we found that most of our great reviews were being "hidden" and a handful of negative reviews, several from staff that we no longer wished to send out had posted, were the only reviews now visible. This has been devastating as it is keeping our average rating at two stars! Whenever I approached the company with this concern they responded that they had no control over which reviews were visible as it is an algorithm within their system programming.
    I subsequently canceled our campaign, incurring $1400 charges for the duration of our contract. Since then the only reviews that are visible are a handful of 1 star reviews, some from years ago a few from disgruntled staff that we no longer send out, and none of the consistently 5 star reviews that regularly are posted but immediately taken down. Yelp has done an unknown amount of damage to our reputation and countless potential clients from enjoying our excellent service. I am beyond frustrated and bewildered to what recourse we may have. WHAT can I do?

  4. John

    This is great. Someone finally yelping yelp. I'm not even a business owner who has been affected, but rather a reviewer who took te time to write a nice review of a fishing charter I went on and their incredibly helpful captain who is just trying to make ends meet, and Yelp "filters" a.k.a. hides, my review for no reason other than that a few other satisfied customers that summer day decided to rate his service as well. Terrible policy. Why am I going to take the time to write a review when some 'algorythm' decides that I'm not being sincere. Ridiculous.

  5. Mohamed

    I'm an owner of a small computer store that depends havelly on recommendations, Yelp is in the process of killing my business by filtering all but one 5 star review claiming that it their "rebot filter", they called me about amonth or two before taking away all the 5 stars reviews asking if I wanted to advertise with them I declined the invitation soon after my rating went down to 2 stars, I have been reading online about their extortion business practice.
    now any 5 star review that get posted on our page will not last 24h before it's filtered.
    I contacted them and spoke to their sales person, her response to me was, we are the sales department, the review department is completly seperate from us and there is no one to talk to and that I need to send an email.
    any recommendations?

  6. Gregg

    I had email you a couple of weeks ago about my yelp problem and you thought you could help. I don't know if I have missed your email or it went to spam. I you remember what you might have done please let me know.
    Thank you,

    1. Adryenn Ashley

      I did post your story for you on Yelp Reviews so that the readers could read it and rate it.

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