I had heard from people that Yelp’s reviews could be bought, which disappointed me greatly. I have come to believe, based on conversations with merchants, that it is materially worse than that. Yelp appears, in my opinion, to be holding retailers and small service suppliers hostage.
A recent example is from a nail salon my wife frequents that has had good ratings on Yelp. Yelp suggested to them that they should pay Yelp to help assure their good ratings were seen. As a small business owner the salon owner declined. Recently she has noticed several negative ratings on her Yelp page from people she cannot identify. When she asked Yelp for help they told her help would be $600 per month to push down the negative ratings and they could not tell her anything about who posted the negative ratings.
Seems suspicious to me that a business with effectively no negative ratings, turns Yelp down to pay them and suddenly she has negative ratings from unknown sources that can only be “pushed down” for a fee … monthly.
Sounds like a protection racket to me. Shame on Yelp, and I hope this kind of business practice on their part causes them to go away as a business.