Frustrations Continue With Review Website Yelp

Local Businesswoman Angry With Yelp

Whether looking for a new restaurant or a dentist, millions of people are turning to the website Yelp.com to read reviews.

But 10News discovered some of those reviews aren't what they appear to be.

Finding a good massage therapist isn't easy, and before deciding to shell out money for any service, most consumers want to hear what others have to say.

"And Yelp is the most popular one to go to," said Christine LaPausky, owner of D'ames Day Spa in Imperial Beach.

LaPausky said she noticed her phone ringing more often after several positive reviews on Yelp.

According to LaPausky, she then received a call from a Yelp sales representative who pushed hard for her to buy advertising.

"I said no thank you, and the very next day they were all gone except one," said LaPausky. "So, that was so blatant."

A Yelp representative would not grant an interview but told 10News that the website does not engage in "pay for play," meaning there's no bias to those who advertise with them. The representative said a computer randomly scans for fabricated reviews and "filters" them to another part of the website.

A class-action lawsuit is under way against the company claiming it's shaking them down. Others have complained that after declining to advertise with Yelp, they immediately saw bogus negative reviews appear under their names.

Sharla Delgado, who opened Salon Delgado with her husband a few months ago, told 10News reporter Itica Milanes she saw several 5-star reviews suddenly disappear and get moved to the "filtered" section after declining to pay more than $650 a month to advertise with Yelp.

"It's basically telling you Yelp doesn't think they're legit. Wonderful reviews from my clients that I see regularly," said Delgado.

LaPausky said she feels helpless, and added, "If you don't pay you suffer. And it's not right but they can make or break a person."

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