Today — in a continuation of its pioneering investigation a few years ago — the New York Attorney General announced settlements with two businesses that tried to mislead consumers, including through attempts to manipulate Yelp reviews. We applaud the NY AG for recognizing the harm these deceptive activities can cause and are proud that Yelp’s Consumer Alert program previously highlighted these businesses’ shady activities to consumers and has become a source of leads for law enforcement.
As noted by the NY AG, Yelp previously warned the public of attempts by MedRite Urgent Care to unfairly boost their Yelp ratings by offering to pay for reviews. We posted successive Consumer Alerts with evidence about MedRite’s sketchy review practices beginning in 2014.
We also posted a Consumer Alert for the second business, Carmel Car & Limousine, this past August when we were tipped off by our users to their attempts to use biased surveys and payments in attempts to gain positive reviews. Our Recommendation Software targets this sort of ploy, which likely explains why this business’s Yelp page sports a 2.5 star rating on Yelp with over 600 reviews not recommended.
Yelp’s Consumer Alert program was designed to share information on shady business behavior when someone is considering spending money with a business, with the goal of helping them make the most informed decision possible. While the vast majority of businesses don’t engage in deceptive review practices, we’ve posted more than one thousand Consumer Alerts since beginning the program in 2012 to bring attention to underhanded attempts to inflate business reputations on Yelp
We will continue to refer offenders like these businesses to interested regulators and help in any way possible to further protect consumers.