Don’t cheat on Yelp. That’s the message that the popular online review site is sending as it cracks down on a misleading online reputation management firm known for deceptive practices.
Yelp has filed a lawsuit against LA-based Revleap, a company that claims it can “create a large constant flow of positive reviews that stay on top of (a business’ Yelp) profile and remove fake reviews.” According to Yelp, Revleap is a recurring offender for spamming businesses with unsolicited messages advertising their service – even when the reputation management company doesn’t really have a way of deleting negative Yelp reviews, or of getting good ones to become more visible.
“One thing Revleap actually does,” wrote Vince Sollitto, Yelp VP Communications and Public Affairs, “is bombard their clients’ customers with surveys. Customers that respond favorably, and agree to post a review, are entered in a drawing for gift cards in an effort to deceptively boost their clients’ reputations.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages as well as an injunction to end Revleap’s practice. According to its website, Revleap was “built by passionate business owners for passionate business owners. Most achieve a 4 or 5-star rating inside 2 months.”
(Check out: “9 Ways Faking Online Reviews Will Destroy Your Business”)
Sollitto added that Revleap has cycled through various company names, including “Yelpdirector” and “Revpley” – and has taken advantage of unknowing small business owners by using Yelp’s name. He said, “We hope that taking action against Revleap will put a stop to their misleading practices and also help businesses distinguish between companies that are playing by the rules and those that are using Yelp’s name to make a dollar by taking advantage of unsuspecting small businesses.”
Yelp’s terms of service states that “writing a fake or defamatory review, trading reviews with other businesses, or compensating someone or being compensated to write or remove a review” is considered a violation of the site’s content guidelines. Sending bulk emails and surveys to manipulate reviews is another violation.
Yelp itself has faced allegations of review fraud and manipulation – but recently the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ended a year-long investigation into the online review site’s business practices.
(Image credit: Revleap)