Ouch! Yelp faces class action lawsuit

Business review site Yelp may be feeling a little hangdog. After being accused last year of offering to take down bad reviews in return for advertising, it’s facing a class action lawsuit over its alleged practices.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court, accuses Yelp  of violating California’s unfair business practices statutes. It calls for the company to stop, as well as requesting unspecified damages.

The lead plaintiff is a California veterinary hospital which says Yelp contacted it repeatedly demanding payments of $300 a month to remove bad reviews.

This time last year, an article in the East Bay Express  quoted business owners who said they received calls from Yelp sales staff when a bad review appeared. The agents apparently promised to remove these reviews if the businesses concerned bought an ad.

Even then, according to the plaintiffs, the calls didn’t stop.

“Mary Seaton, the owner of a furniture store in San Mateo, agreed to a $350 per month advertising subscription with Yelp after they offered to remove her negative reviews,” they say. “During that time, her negative reviews were removed and old positive ones re-appeared. After her contract ended, a negative review appeared, which Seaton said contained lies.”

The plaintiffs’ website is here.