Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why I dislike the Class Action Lawsuit Against

I recently read that there are new Class Action Lawsuits against the company filed by several law firms in the name of a handful of businesses claiming that advertising sales representatives at offered to investigate and or take down any negative reviews if the company purchased an online yellow page ad. is one of my very favorite sites and I'm really disappointed to hear of any class action law suits against this company. Here are my issues with this situation:

  • Sales Puffery -- I wonder if this claim was merely sales puffery by an over eager sales person stating that if the customer signed up for an ad, then the sales rep would do everything possible to personally investigate the authenticity of any negative reviews? The sales rep probably had not authority to take down any reviews.
  • Litigants -- Did any litigants actually pay for an ad and have the negative reviews removed or did they merely speak to a sales representative?
  • Bad Service -- In the cases in which any potential litigants wanted a negative review removed, were the businesses possibly guilty of providing questionable service? And if the reviews were legitimate, why didn't the business try and personally contact the Yelper through Yelp's free service and offer the Yelper an apology, and an invitation to try their businesses or service again and change their review.
  • Negative Reviews -- In my 4 years of writing reviews, I've never had one of my reviews taken down without my knowledge. If I wrote a negative review about the company that I felt very strongly about and a Yelp representative asked me to remove it and I saw a plethora of other negative reviews about that same business, I would probably stop writing reviews on Yelp.
  • Organizations like the Better Business Bureau - In my eyes, Yelp provides a service like the Better Business Bureau except that the information is public. With the information public, I think it's much more valuable to the consumer.
  • Class Action Law Suits -- I really hate to see the lawyers get involved in class action law suits like stock securities.
  • Yelp, Google, Other Review Sites -- Other than Yelp, there are so many sites on the Internet in which a disgruntled customer could post information about their experience with a business. It really must be the growth of the Yelp community that really makes this a news story but it's really sad to see Yelp singled out in a situation like this.
Also, I would be shocked if there are a large number of businesses out there that actually did buy advertising on Yelp in exchange for getting negative reviews removed. It could have happened but certainly not widespread enough as is implied in the media. I really hope the media doesn't provide too much free promotion for this story!

Finally, here is a link to one of the Class Action Lawsuit litigants:

Yelp Class Action

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