Although Yelp intends to be an insider source of consumer knowledge, with 108 million visitors per month, business owners at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood confronted their panel with angry accusations.
Yelp has made an effort to reach out to thousands of business owners in 22 major cities across the country in order to clear up misunderstandings and inform the public about their advertising options. Business owners throughout the Los Angeles area were invited to this Town Hall meeting last Tuesday to learn more about Yelp’s services.
The panelists consisted of five people, two business owners and three reviewers, and praised the necessity of paid Yelp accounts for success. The audience, however, was not so friendly once the question-and-answer session was opened.
Accusations of slander, deceit and corruption were thrown at the company for over an hour and a half. Some members of the crowd even went so far as to accuse Yelp of extortion. One boutique owner recalled relentless solicitation for Yelp advertising services. She claims that when she denied any advertising packages on the website, all of her negative reviews were mysteriously pushed up to the top of her page.
Yelp denies any monetary connections on how reviews are placed or filtered. The company claims that all reviews are displayed according to an objective algorithm that monitors for activity and posting frequency. The goal is to eliminate reputation inflation due to fake anonymous reviews. People countered this rebuttal by reminding the representatives that slanderous reviews still exist on the website that have no basis in reality.
The next town hall meeting for Los Angeles is scheduled for November and will focus on business operating out of West L.A.