Yelp Reviews Corruption Allegations Exposed

Is it possible that the Yelp Reviews corruption allegations of extortion and manipulation of reviews are true? Was Yelp perpetrating a fraud when they held themselves out as the “last honest and objective review voice available online,” as we have been lead to believe?  
Yes. It’s more than just possible. There is a problem at Yelp and somehow we all kinda knew it, but now it may be official as alleged in a recent Trial where Corporate Practices were exposed.

Yelp Reviews Corruption Courtroom Drama  Include Allegations of Extortion & Review Manipulation

Lingering questions regarding possible Yelp reviews corruption that have been swirling around the profitable website have allegedly been answered; in spades. 
Coming as no surprise, there is no such thing as [WARNING: Spoiler Alert] the Easter Bunny, the Boogie Man and that Yelp reviews are subject to corruption and manipulation, solely for their corporate Shareholder’s financial benefit. 

Yelp User Reviews Not Accurate or Honest

yelp-reviews
Yelp Management Celebrating Another Record-Breaking Sales Quarter

Evidence of an institutionalized corporate policy of determining whether to afford a Business preferential treatment (i.e., remove or block bad reviews and to highlight positive reviews), based on the amount of relative advertising or other financial benefit provided to the supposedly objective review site.

In addition to removing or completely blocking bad reviews of various Businesses in exchange for payments in the form of “advertising payments,” evidence was introduced in Trial that Yelp had several issues of corruption deeply entwined in their corporate culture.  

For those who chose not to pay the alleged extortion, evidence was introduced in Trial that Yelp employed “over 200 people to write negative reviews about the business and post them in prominent positions associated with that Business or that Business’ competitors. 

Makes one wonder how this issue ever saw the inside of a courtroom and was not settled a long time ago under the protection of the legal shield of a Confidentiality Clause or Gag Order.

To Review the Court’s bizarre ruling: YELP’S COURT LOSS

Review Site Sopranos’ Style

Like a Mafia boss taking “Protection Money,” Yelp strong-armed various small and mid-sized businesses into a corner, then forced them to fork over relatively large sums of cash for various advertising and other offers benefitting Yelp, in exchange for preferential treatment and supply targeted traffic to the business listings.

Yelp has enjoyed its “powers” as a review site and traffic generator that forces businesses into its system and into paying them.

First, Yelp forces your Business in its universe without your consent. Then they mask your best reviews, effectively creating a pay-wall where business owners must pay to keep some integrity.

BTW, when was the crime of extortion removed from our Criminal Codes?

In a tragic moment of irony, the Courts unanimously sided with the corrupt review site, declaring in their ruling, Yelp is a private business and therefore, can “run their reviews on whatever policy their Shareholders decided to implement into their business plan.” Huh?yelp-reviews

How Could Yelp Admit to Corruption in Court?

Yelp has spent a King’s Ransom on Public Relations Professional to keep the consumer perception that Yelp was in some ways, “people’s review site,” and, “the one place to find objective reviews and personal experiences online,” when nothing was further from the truth.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Yelp is served with about 6-10 subpoenas a month, demanding reviewer information. Most subpoenas received revolve around the issue of Businesses who believe that they have been slandered unfairly or by a competitor.

When these Business Owners pay for the privilege, Yelp is quick to help them show a greater presence on the website, even selling ad space for them on competitor’s pages. If these owners cancel, Yelp is just as quick to push those good reviews into the “not recommended” category.

Effect of the Court Ruling Against Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Not only does it set precedent that you can write whatever reviews you want and swear they are true and accurate, when they are just the highest paying to get to the top of the list.  It also sends messages to consumers that no review in even capable of maintaining any form of objectivity and that corruption is still alive and well in our economic system.

Yelp Marketed Itself As the Only Objective Review Website

The mid-market platform, whose financially successful business model revolved around the foundation of an “honest and objective review,” but also secretly involved the practice of forcing Business Owners into a corner for leverage, effectively forcing them to opt-in to Yelp’s extortion plan.

Now Yelp’s behavior has the endorsement of the Law. God bless capitalism… Now pass the ammunition.

But even if it was manipulating user-generated content, according to the law, Yelp’s practices are all perfectly legal. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Yelp is entitled to set a price for its ads.

What are the Courts Rational to Allow Yelp to Continue to Operate in this Manner?

The SFGate reported: “As Yelp has the right to charge for legitimate advertising services, the (alleged) threat of economic harm is, at most, hard bargaining,” and not extortion or unfair business practices, according to Judge Marsha Berzon during Tuesday’s 3-0 ruling.

The court also upheld a federal judge’s dismissal of a proposed class action suit, which small business owners filed in response to being told by Yelp representatives that ratings were dependent on ad buys. Tuesday’s ruling also stipulated that businesses reviewed on the platform have no legal right to a high rating.

And no legal recourse if they get bad ratings — no matter what the reason. Just about a month ago, Yelp made headlines because a New York hotel on its platform attempted to fine a group of people who’d stayed there during a wedding $500 for each negative review they posted. The hotel said they would refund the money if the bad reviews were deleted. In response, the hotel’s Yelp page was inundated with one star reviews. One reviewer summed it up well: “Unprofessional. Not hospitable. Disaster for an Inn.”

Scott Michelman, an attorney with Public Citizen, reported that, “Nobody enters into a consumer contract expecting that they’re going to be paying a fine if another consumer doesn’t like the business.”

That said, caveat emptor, or the closest Latin phrase that translates to “let the browser beware.” Yelp has posted steady revenue increases since the first complaints started rolling in to the FTC in 2008. Yelp’s local advertising makes up 75% of its stock value and is its biggest revenue stream.

For additional information, please see EsqBusiness.com.

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FREE MARKETING VIDEO: “WHO THE F*UCK ARE YOU?”

Free Marketing Video for anyone & everyone who is an Online Entrepreneur, even if you have already made millions of dollars online, but intend to continue to make more money and keep your drive/motivational levels high, than this is a MUST SEE MARKETING VIDEO. Much of this forward thinking is what we come up with at EsqBusiness.com.

Anyone who is new to Marketing or starting a new career as an Entrepreneur will learn more watching this free marketing video (really watching and not ADD’ing out with the video on in the background) than a $5,000 Coaching Deal with a “Guru” for several months.

Believe me. Done both. This is GOSPEL. Forward thinking, insight into the business we are in… Pure gold


 Highlights of Free Marketing Video:

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” with “I never had expectations of catching a KO with the Right Hook.”

  • Give, Give, give… Offer Sales Pitch. Jab = giving something perceived by a targeted consumer as of significant value away out of the goodness of your heart.  Right Hook = your offer.

Most entrepreneurs expect lots of spectacular, highlight-reel knockouts from their huge “Right Hook.” They would be much more effective if stuck to the fight plan of looking to throw lots of jabs, so that when the occasional Right-Hook” does get thrown, there are lots of knockouts and conversions and sales, in relation to just throwing the big right the entire time.

“Everyone believes you need an education in this country to succeed, that is the last thing you should do…”

“You’re in the media business, then you’re a Lawyer. You’re in the media business, then You’re a Wine Seller. You’re in the media business, then you’re a dentist. The bottom line is that if you plan on making any run to the top of your profession, you need to realize that your MAIN vocation at this point is a MEDIA Business, before your real profession.

“Patience is painfully underestimated… It’s about getting base hits, not home runs.”

“At the end of the day, it’s not about impressions, Nielsen ratings, it’s about selling stuff after giving.”

“Super small brands are poised to take over because they Jab… The big companies only Right Hooks.”

“Trick is to identify that we are living & selling in an ADD Market”

“I would love for one of my companies to go out of business because then I deserve it… Someone did it better.”

A real expert tells us where Marketing is going to be going in its next progression.

free-marketing-videoSmart People Helping Other Make Millions™

Onwards and Upwards,

website attorney

esq digital business president

Making Money Online 2014: Part 1-The Basics

Making Money OnlineThe Basics behind earning a great living from your own home, working Online while acting as your own boss has literally never been easier, more lucrative or taken such a minor amount of relative energy, time and Start-up Capital to get a profitable business up and running.  
Don’t worry, this is not a sales page and has no agenda other than to try to help you satisfy your dream of quitting your horrible job and enjoying your life and family more by working from home.  The
how to start a home business
Everyone Makes Money Online!

Best part of this unexpected wave of free-market, technology spill-off is the foundational notion that a “regular person” has access to these once exclusive systems, techniques, coaches and outsourcing resources.  Hence, an overall very average person (as long as they are highly driven by an ambition to do something better for themselves) can now easily put themselves into a position of such easy access to such large amounts of revenue.  Here is how People are Making Profits on the Internet in 2014:

How The Common Man Gained Accessed Large Amounts of Online Revenue Without A Harvard Business Degree

Don’t worry, you do not succeed in online marketing and business because you have a fancy, Postgraduate Degrees from a prestigious Private East Coast University in International Business Finance are hanging proudly on your wall  (present company excluded… because that is exactly what I did before Law School and it didn’t turn me into a total douche… Law School is the culprit). Most people who really succeed in this business (think upwards of $200,000.00 a month conservatively) have the following common character traits:

  • Are Responsible for providing for others who may be financially dependant on them (family, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc),  
  • Developed an incredible ambition and drive to earn more money and increase the quality of their lives.  Interestingly, this “drive” is often kicked in by someone who has a sudden feeling of dissatisfaction for the quality of their lives and envision living a better one,
  • Recently experienced a significant financial issues and have new motivations to earn more money or just wanting to work for themselves on their own terms.  In my case, I was making a lot of money as a Partner in a prestigious Law Firm with a large staff and an undefeated trial record in 14 years.  Yes, the pay was as large as you would assume.  Yet, despite the obvious perks of being a Litigation Partner in a Big Law FIrm, I am now much happier and making more money working our systems on my time (whatever that means to an Entrepreneur). I am much happier, less stressed, work MUCH less and see my seven-year old daughter everyday.
  • Some have advanced degrees and some have highschool educations. Life-experience, adaptation, and the ability to ethically manipulate all seem to be strong indicators of a talent for Online Marketing or Entrepreneurial enterprises.

Why Do Some People Wake Up and Make a lot of Money and Others Do Not?

 

internet marketing coach
Without a Coach You Could End Up Lost and Broke!

Here is the real information on that feeling: Good for you for waking up. Your subconscious is giving you a kick in the pants and telling you that it’s time to get it in gear, right?  Good for Your Subconscious.  

It is something inside of yourself that has pointed out to you in no uncertain terms that you need to become much more ambitious, work harder (or smarter) and look towards making positive life-changes. That is why you are reading this article, just as a few years ago I read one just like it that made the light bulb go off in my head too.   Maybe you are working hard for positive life-changes which drove you to this very page.
Relax friend, as previously stated, this is not a sales page, I’m not looking for your money. I am a friend who understands wanting more, who is simply here to pull back the marketing “Curtain,” and expose the real state of making money online.  Succeeding in this economic environment involves a certain amount of, “watch me as I do it” method of teaching, mixed with a Socratic ask and answer session.
My students leave our classes and they feel pumped and motivated to earn and do personal greatness. Personal Revenue Production has never been easier to learn, carry out and override the ability to make more money for you. CPA offers (cost per action) affiliate deals are through the roof, and you can cash in but you have to know which roof to look through, and the market is proving to be more efficient in all forms, increasing the stacks of money for those of us that know what to look for and how it’s done.
Again, this article is NOT A SALES PAGE. Just an invaluable insight into the fascinating world of Overnight Millionaires and how they used Online Business to make their money.

Achieving Online Business Success in 2014-2015 

Online Revenue Production has never been easier to learn, carry out and hopefully one that could potentially have a very long and lucrative career with. Part of this is because of the art of  knowing or understanding, “Marketing Trade Craft” through coaching or finding a mentor to understand how to become successful in the first place.  If you are able to get your Business and you top succeed, with the ability to be more efficient and has never been as financially lucrative as it is.

Some very smart & ambitious Entrepreneurs have taken notice of the massive amounts of revenue being generated Online by kids in their Mom’s dark, mildewed basements. Yes, they are out there I have met them. Strange little Star Trek Nerds, but whatever. They understand how to make money Online really efficiently.

That’s it. That’s all that is holding you back from becoming the Entrepreneurial multimillionaire who is ready to live their lives. Ok, so enough of my pep talk of encouragement.  Advance on, deeper into the Heart of Darkness Financial Freedoms and free yourself…

What is Driving this Spike in Online Sale & Associated Marketing?

The meteoric rise of Online Revenue Generation & product design and actual production is due to several relevant factors that include: Poor over-all Economic conditions and the lack of a full economic recovery which has forced both businesses and consumers to check and evaluate exactly how online commercial transactions should be conducted, new market access previously unavailable before Internet Sales, access to various business offers and joint venture deals that have never been as readily accessible as they are today, the ability to hire skilled outsources to do most of the work for you for a high ROI, the technological advances in automation and other marketing tools, and the heaven-sent “multiple passive income streams” technique that will make us all very rich if done correctly.

Why have the Markets Changed so Dramatically?

The above-referenced elements have produced an excellent environment to earn more money utilizing increasingly available ventures and the explosion of Product Creation.  In addition, the rise in Entrepreneurialism based in large part to economic necessity and ability to outsource and not get bogged down worrying about writing sales pages, making sure that the colors match in our branding, etc.

These “perfect storm” of events and technological advances translate into the ability for an ambitious, reasonably bright person to make more money while working less time to make that money then perhaps any time in Human existence.

Additionally, the financial overhead of owning a business and/or product manufacturing facility is dropping rapidly, as the conventional “Brick and Mortar” store is in the process of being replaced by low overhead business ventures online. Online businesses need access to the internet and to products to sell and market (unless you make your own, which is recommended) and time to work. Traditional businesses have to pay huge rental fees for office and/or manufacturing facilities, insurance, employee benefits, workers’ compensation fees, legal fees, travel costs, etc.

watching your competition
I’ll Help You Market On the Internet. Watch Your Step on the Way Down!

Despite the Recession, the Economic Conditions Remain Pro-Entrepreneur 

The above-referenced factors have caused the overall cost of products and services to drop much, competition among vendors of these products and services to become increasingly intense and when the smoke clears, the Consumer and Online Marketers benefit.

Interestingly, 2013 was the first year that more money was spent on the traditional marketing and advertising of products and services using non-traditional sources (internet, electronic communications, cellular, etc.) than conventional marketing avenues (television, product placements, print media, radio, etc.). More B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) products and services were advertised and/or marketed to by a new generation of “Reactionary  Entrepreneurs.”
Please sign up to our Weekly Magazine so you don’t miss part 2 and 3 of this “Making Money Online” series.
 
Part II) Of this series includes: specific techniques, starting business models and valuable resources that any Newbie, or Anyone who intends to continue to earn their living online will find extremely valuable. In addition, the next installment will outline the new Online Legal Compliance Laws and what they mean to you as a Website Entrepreneur and how, believe it or not, you can personally profit from them.
Best Regards Until then.
  website attorney
President of Esq Digital Business

 

Internet Marketing & Website Legal Violations

Internet Marketers and Owners of Websites that take any part, no matter how small, in any type of transaction between parties are not particularly popular with US Lawmakers these days.  In fact, everyone from the Obama Administration, who recently publicly declared “Online Consumer Protection” an “Administrative Priority,” to the FTC, Department of Justice, California, and just about every Civil Judge and Jury in between is out for Internet Entrepreneurs’ heads.

2014 ANTI – ENTREPRENEUR OFFENSIVE COORDINATED BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

website legal rules
Help! Im Drowning In Regulatory Resistance to My Site!

 

Pompei and Megaris article in modaq.com concluded that, “It’s how they [marketers] advertise and generate sales leads” that causes, “so much legal trouble for Internet Marketers.”

“Its was the best of times & the worst of times,” as the famous writer (I believe it was Hemingway, but am far too lazy to google it now) once opined.  It is a great time to earn a lot of money online but the Governments on both the Federal & State levels are overreaching in their attempt to regulate all aspects of Online Commerce.

The size of the fines and judgements in terms of actual dollar amounts have been staggering.  This is partially due to the fact that the recently enacted Law attempting to regulate the entire industry were designed on the premise of “Protecting Consumers from Deceptive Advertising Practices.”

Could the little things like, say… like  suppose that the centuries old common sense convention and legal doctrine of “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware,” is no longer applicable to todays commercial environment, arguably when Caveat Emptor should be most applied.  For example, when an email tells me I can make $40,000 a day in passive income without putting in any money or work to the project, or I can take off 50 pounds of fat and add 25 pounds of muscle in two weeks taking their new “supplements” I know not to believe those claims.

So if I am a fool and his money are quickly separated due to the brilliant marketing campaigns of the Passive Income Stream Generator and the Miracle Fat Loss  supplement, should they really have standing to file lawsuits and Federal & State Agency Complaints, not just to get my money back, but to strip that Site’s Owner of all his personal assets to be seized by the Federal Government?  Im not totally sold on that idea.  Despite the blatant inequities and record breaking prosecution rates today commercial environment that a party to a transaction takes on potential risk in entering into a transaction that later proves to not have been fully truthful in their claims regarding the products or services sold or that buyer would actually pay in full take a certain amount of personal risk entering into transactions that could be shady or more formally know as “Caveat Emptor,” or “Buyer beware” in today’s terms?).

FTC Prosecuting Deceptive Advertising and Online Marketers

We learned relatively early  in Law School that in order to keep the integrity of commerce and to protect the public order, any violation of a law or statute that involves even the slightest amount of fraud to induce the transaction, (hence the term “deceptive” advertising), the penalty must be so large as to not only punish the Owner of the legally noncompliant website, but to serve as an example to others’ who may be considering the same type of “deception,” with the goal of deterring similar behavior by others, despite conventional wisdom which has longed believed that “Social Deterrents” simple do not work and do not lower crime rates in any appreciable way.

As as result, the Court’s are imposing enormous “Enron” sized Punitive fines on regular guys who put some fake testimonials up on their website or didn’t have the proper Corporate information in the proper geographic location on the Website in question.

These “Exemplary Damages,” coupled with the incredible Court, investigative, and Attorneys fees often leaves the devastated former Website Owner in a state of total financial ruin.  Keep in mind that despite owing so much money, the  Internet Entrepreneurs that are being assessed these incredible large penalties usually cannot earn a living, as they have any due to the lifetime suspension from entering into any transactions as sellers Online ever again the most are also given to keep the Consumer “protected.”

Moreover, these types of damages are not dischargeable through a simple bankruptcy action like most debts that have little to no chance of ever being paid off due to the large size and fact that these Entrepreneurs are also majority of the thousands of Website Owners that have been prosecuted end up in financial ruins when the smoke clears.

Website Owners Must Keep On Top Of the Laws & Ensure That Their Internet Business is Legally Compliant

website privacy policy
SMART INTERNET MARKETERS MUST COMPLY WITH THE NEW LAWS

Given the huge downside to not maintaining legal compliance, including the sheer enormity of the violations actual dollar amounts for noncompliance being handed out to Website Owners and the FTC’s record shattering prosecution rates since January, it is essential that if you stay up to date on the state of the laws which govern in your own personal jurisdiction and in your specific business or niche, as they all have different standards about what constitutes “deceptive advertising.”  For example, an eBook Publisher may be held to a different standard that a link dealer or traffic broker.  See the brilliant article about Marketing Liability in Mondaq.com.

Despite the legal ambiguity as to the apparent different levels of “Deceptive Advertising” penalties, we know one thing is for sure; you do not want to have your Website pulled down, your accounts frozen, any and all of your assets seized, have your accounts audited by the IRS & various State Tax Enforcement Agencies and potentially be taken into physical custody by Federal Agents or State Police.

The Federal Government estimated that the overall level of website noncompliance is approximately 90%. That means if you are reading this now, you can probably prosecuted for violating one law or another.  By the way, stealing the legal documents from another Website and putting them onto your Site thinking that will solve the problem does just the opposite, it compounds an already life-changing problem. May times a Court will simple rule that you have absolutely no protection against potential liability or legal noncompliance due to your “use” of another’s documents.  This leaves you in a worse place than if you had nothing at all on your site.

What Online Conduct Places Me Under the Jurisdiction of the New Internet Business Laws & Regulations?  

Most, if not all Website Owners are under certain misconceptions about having to make a “commercial transaction” to fall within the legal jurisdiction of the New Online Business Regulations & Laws.  However, there are many activities that may potentially put you under investigation that have nothing to do with traditional Commercial Transactions.  As a good start-off point, if your website engages in any of the following you are governed by very specific new laws:

  • Offer Goods and/or Services for Sale on a Website,

  • Track the Behavior of Any Users of Your Website (including using nothing more than Google Analytics),

  • Write, design, or Produce Any Content (blogs, eBooks, audio, videos, comments of message boards, Social Network Information) for Public Consumption,

  • Any Site that Contains Any Type of Specific Information (legal, medical, architectural or just about anything qualifies,

  • Sites that Use Testimonials or Endorsements,

  • Affiliate Marketing or Drop Shipping,

  • Email Marketing, or even a hyperlink to your website in a personal email if the recipient is Canadian pursuant to the new CAN SPAM Act,

  • Using the Internet to Earn a Financial or Material Gain in an Appreciable Way,

  • Much More but We Are Sure You Get The Point.

After the Strict New Online Business Laws & Statutes with their extremely harsh punishments and zealous prosecutions that went into Effect in January 2014, it is extremely important  to make sure that your Website and Total Business is fully Compliant with all Legal and Business Legal & Regulatory Requirements.  This includes all procedural regulatory requirements applicable to marketing or Internet Advertising. Hence, make sure legal compliance needs to be any serious Website Owner’s priorities.

Like this article? Please see www.EsqBusiness.com and/or www.GrowthHackerSlacker.com

 

Onwards and Upwards,

website attorney