October 18th, 2012
Buy Reviews on Yelp, Get Black Mark
By DAVID STREITFELD
New York Times
Businesses caught soliciting favorable reviews are increasingly running the risk of getting slapped with a badge of shame.
Like every Web site that depends on consumer critiques, Yelp has a problem with companies trying to manipulate their results. So it set up a sting operation to catch them. The first eight businesses — including a moving company, two repair shops and a concern that organizes treasure hunts — will find themselves exposed on Thursday.
For the next three months, their Yelp profile pages will feature a “consumer alert” that says: “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.”
Potential customers will see the incriminating e-mails trying to hire a reviewer.