Yelp, the influential business directory and review service that small businesses both love (it can drive traffic to their business) and hate (it can be mis-used by competitors, disgruntled former employees and an endless list of others), has filed a civil lawsuit against a company that promises to give businesses “control of their reviews.”
As first reported by ArsTechnica, the company being sued has operated under three names (Revleap, Yelpdirector, RevPlay). According to the lawsuit, the self-described “reputation management” company claims to use software that helps it “proactively generate a large number of 4 and 5 star reviews from your customers in a way that makes them stick to the front page of Yelp.”
“Such claims are scams,” said Yelp’s Vince Sollitto in a post on Yelp’s official blog. “But some business owners unfortunately fall for them and end up paying dearly, both with their bank accounts and their online reputations.”
According to Sollitto, the types of tactics RevLeap says it uses are violations of Yelp’s terms of usage and if used, “can put small businesses at risk with respect to our Consumer Alert program and federal and state regulators who often crack down on businesses that try to artificially inflate their online reputations.”
Yelp’s lawsuit claims that Revleap has engaged in trademark violation, unfair competition, and breach of contract, among other claims.
“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,” said Sollitto.