Consumer trust has always been Yelp’s number one priority. From our LIVES open data standard integrating restaurant health scores onto business pages, to our more recent ProPublica partnership incorporating health care statistics onto the Yelp business pages of medical treatment facilities, our goal is to provide people with as much information as possible before they make a spending decision.
As part of our ongoing Consumer Protection Initiative to empower consumers, Yelp launched its Consumer Alert program in 2012 to track down people who might be trying to manipulate ratings and reviews. This week, we’re releasing a new round of 51 alerts, because consumers deserve to know when someone is attempting to deceive them. The consumer alerts will be clearly posted on affected Yelp listings for 90 days.
Since the start of the program, our trusty team of investigators have caught hundreds of attempts to artificially inflate ratings through a number of tactics. In 2015 alone, our sleuths have issued 185 consumer alerts. Cheaters beware: our team WILL find you.
Wouldn’t you want to know that Spokane Laptops was caught threatening customers and offering to pay $50 in exchange for the removal of negative reviews before taking your broken laptop into that shop? Likewise, you’d probably appreciate a heads up that this MedRite Urgent Care was caught twice attempting to inflate their ratings before rushing in with a medical emergency. Similarly, you’d want the tip-off that a large number of five-star reviews for Family Dental Care came from the same IP address used to claim the business owner’s account before heading in to get a tooth pulled.
In addition to giving consumers a false perception of the business where they are about to spend their hard-earned money and violating Yelp’s Terms of Service, buying positive testimonials without revealing they were paid for is a form of false advertising.
Our Consumer Protection Initiative is continuing to grow and more announcements are on the way. In the meantime, if you’ve spotted some suspicious behavior, please let our investigators know. Together, we can continue to protect consumers and promote the honest local business owners who make our communities so awesome.