Portland Restaurant Owner Accuses Yelp of Rigging Reviews
The owner of Vinland, an organic restaurant on Congress St. in Portland, thinks that Yelp has downgraded his restaurant's ratings because he declined to purchase paid ads through the popular business review website.
In a story published Wednesday by Perry Eaton on Boston.com, owner David Levy accused a Yelp representative of lowering reviews of his restaurant that were more than a year old, in retaliation for his decision to not purchase advertising through Yelp. Read the full story on Boston.com here.
Earlier this week, the Portland Press Herald published emails between Levy and a local Yelp representative. In the exchange, Levy makes it clear that he believes the changed ratings were a direct result of not buying ads, and went on to question the ethics of Yelp's business model:
I don't know how an employee of a company trying to extract money from us can, in any ethical way, post a public review of us, but you did, and it was four stars, and you then dropped it to three stars more than a year later, without having revisited the restaurant or even changing the text of your review. This is foul, as is everything about the company you work for."
In a later email, Steff Deschenes, Portland's Yelp representative, responded by saying that their company has been investigated by multiple federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, and that no punitive action was ever taken.
Here are some of the reviews that appear on the front of Vinland's page on Yelp: