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Yelp Consumer Alerts: We Take the Guesswork out of Online Reviews

For nearly twelve years, we at Yelp have been working around the clock to promote consumer trust. At the heart of this mission is the belief that consumers need access to reliable information before deciding where to spend their hard-earned money.

Yelp’s Consumer Protection Initiative has produced a variety of programs that empower and protect consumers. Our LIVES open data standard integrated restaurant health scores onto business pages. Our ProPublica partnership incorporated health care statistics onto the Yelp business pages of medical treatment facilities at the beginning of. Late last year, we issued Reputation Warnings to more than 100 businesses associated with Movers Alliance, a group of moving companies caught engaging in shady business tactics.

One of the most important programs within Yelp’s Consumer Protection Initiative is our Consumer Alert Program, which exposes attempts to manipulate business ratings and reviews. This week, we’re releasing a new round of alerts in connection with 37 different business listings. The consumer alerts will be in effect for 90 days.

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Consider these examples:

  • Before hiring Terrie L Culver & Associates, a law firm in Chicago, you’d probably want to know that the firm was caught offering to pay someone to remove a negative review.
  • How about considering the thought of sending your child to their first swim lesson at Gold Medal Swim School in Chandler, Arizona without knowing that we found the business offering incentives in exchange for positive reviews?
  • Likewise, you might think twice before hiring 495 Movers in Rockville, Maryland for your cross-country move if you knew that we caught them promising major bucks to a former customer if they would remove their negative review of the company.

 

In some cases, these efforts to manipulate consumer trust are forms of false advertising which can lead to prosecution and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The bottom line is that Yelp has your back. We’re constantly looking for ways to ensure the integrity of the information available to consumers, including acting on tips from our community of users to help us track down suspicious behavior. If you see something on Yelp or elsewhere that might seem fishy, please let our investigators know.