Man said he was offered $100 gas card to take down bad Yelp review

Man contacted by attorney after review

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego man contacted Team 10 after he said he was offered $100 to take down a bad review on the website Yelp.

Sean M. was looking for a contractor to do several jobs on his 30-year-old home. He had RKC Construction come out to his home to give him a quote after seeing an ad on a flyer.

"He had a lot of red flags waving," Sean told Team 10 Troubleshooter Cristin Severance.

Sean said he didn't like the sales representative's attitude so he hired a more expensive company. He also wrote a one-star review on Yelp about his experience with the employee.

"It was fair, it was accurate," said Sean.

Then, he said he received a phone call from an attorney who said he represented the company.

"This is Tom Gallagher of Gallagher, Krich APC. I represent RKC construction calling in regards to a Yelp posting," the attorney said in a voicemail.

Sean said after more than 30 reviews on Yelp, this was his first call from an attorney.

"I'm just concerned this is a form of bullying that was based off of a real-life experience," said Sean.

Sean called the attorney back while Team 10 was there.

He said the attorney made him an offer of a $100 gas card in exchange from the removal of the reviews.

Sean explained to the attorney that his impression was so bad he went with a more expensive company -- more than $1,000 extra -- to do the job.

"That's a month's mortgage. It wasn't price, it was this argumentative person in my house," said Sean to the attorney.

He said the review was based on a real experience and taking it down would mean compromising what he believes in.

Sean emailed him that he would not be accepting the offer.

"Ultimately, they aren't fixing the problem. They are trying to placate with gift cards," said Sean.

The business owner told Team 10 he only had an attorney contact Sean because Sean's review said he didn't want RKC to contact him.

The owner said he was trying to make up for a bad experience and not bribe him with a gas card.

The attorney, Tom Gallagher, declined an on-camera interview, but he told Team 10 he explained to Sean it would be great if Sean took the review down but it wasn't a condition of the gas card.

Gallager also said that Sean demanded $1,000 to take down the negative review, which Sean said never happened.

Yelp gave Team 10 this response:

"Yelp does not tolerate attempts to mislead consumers. Business owners who attempt to pay for or manipulate reviews in any way are in violation of Yelp's Terms of Service. This type of activity not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses who play by the rules.

To earn a positive online reputation, we recommend that business owners focus on providing great customer service (a Yelp study found that reviews mentioning 'good' or 'great' customer service were over 5 times as likely to be a 5 star review rather than a 1 star review), unlocking their free business owner account and utilizing the free tools Yelp offers to join the conversations happening about them online.

If someone has evidence of a business attempting review manipulation, please contact Yelp (yelp.com/contact) with more information and we'll look into the case as we do not tolerate this type of behavior."
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