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The Laws of Yelp

With so many compliance standards to meet and regulations to follow, you probably haven’t thought of the laws of Yelp. Since Yelp falls under the jurisdiction of the FCC, it’s best to stay on top of it, lest you have to place a call to your legal counsel. Small business owners know what an impact a stellar review can have, and the detriment of the single star. Every click has a big impact, with studies reporting that a restaurant with 3.5 stars were more than 20 percent more likely to be booked than restaurants with 3 stars. Word of mouth is real and Yelp is telling millions of “friends” across the city and tourists streaming into town. 

Are Yelp reviews effective? You bet. Are they right? Not always. Small business owners are not always happy with Yelp’s touch, saying that Yelp favors sponsors and will bury bad reviews for a fee. These complaints went to court and here is how the law came down.

What has been decided

Yelp denies deleting reviews for money or not, although some small business owners have accused the review site of removing positive reviews if they refused to buy ads on the site. This point is moot because even if they are guilty, it’s not illegal. They can post, arrange, and take down any authentic reviews and stay within their rights.

What will be decided

Did you know that businesses can force customers to waive their right to comment on it or its staff? This was true across the country until California passed a law forbidding businesses from this practice. Now the state’s congressional representative, Eric Salwell, will introduce a nationwide law that closely resembles the one in his home state. This practice is due to end soon anyway as businesses have received public criticism for punishing customers for bad reviews so you can chalk it up to really bad online reputation management.

At times, Yelp reviews can, and some believe they often do, boil down to pettiness. Although competitors can’t try to sink each other by posting false bad reviews, Yelp usually doesn’t step into these personal matters. Monitoring your online reputation is in your hands so address bad reviews the best you can, just be sure to think your response through. It can be entertaining to watch and read about business owners arguing with customers and having meltdowns on social media, but it’s not the best business plan. 

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