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Yelp Wanted: Members of Yelp Elite Demand Freebies

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Just because the great Amy Blair now stops by on a regular basis to provide us with The Week in Yelp does not mean we've retired Yelp Wanted, our original investigation into the many shortcomings and nuances of the Yelp empire. Plenty of folks have issues with Yelp, and we're among the ranks that believe there's more than meets the eye with this local phenomenon of ours. As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

2006_04_helpwanted.jpgAs many folks here in San Francisco know, if you ever encounter a particularly avid participant of the cult called Yelp—especially a member of the "Yelp Elite"—he/she will assuredly rant and rave about the great democratic nature of Yelp: how reviews are written by normal people, how the ratings provide a true flavor over time, how everything is real and sans prejudices, etc etc, blah blah.

Well, it has come to our attention that certain members of the Yelp community, including the hallowed Yelp Elite, have begun to take it upon themselves to anoint themselves as members of the media, contact certain outlets and—brace—demand comped services in exchange for favorable reviews. Mind you, this isn't a mere special Yelp event at a new restaurant, where free drinks garner five-star reviews. Said crazy, self-entitled Yelpers are actually calling PR firms and demanding everything from free meals to entire comped weekends in Napa.

But enough talk: let's get to the smoking gun email, shall we? The following note just arrived in the Eater Inbox:

My boutique media relations firm represents high-end hotel, wine and golf properties, and media stays, rounds of golf and wine samples are very limited for the traditional media. Over the past 6 months or so, we've been getting three to four calls per week [from Yelpers] asking for comps, freebies, what have you. The most ridiculous of requests came a few weeks ago, when I received a call requesting a comped weekend at a small and uber-exclusive hotel property we represent in the Napa Valley for review by an "Elite Yelper". Let's just say rates start at $750 a night at the property, and I can barely find a mid-week, mid-winter time to get A-list media in, let alone a self-proclaimed expert from an online review network. The individual was none too pleased and dropped the call in a huff of remarks and threats of bad reviews.
Always a class act, that Yelp Elite (the self-entitlement of so many Yelpers never ceases to amaze us). Also, with the dubious evolution of this supposed democratic community, there's an Animal Farm corollary in here somewhere.
· Yelp Wanted: How To Circumvent Yelp [~ESF~]
· Yelp Wanted: Jeremy S. Loves His Sponsors [~ESF~]
· Yelp Wanted: SF Magazine Article Disses Yelp [~ESF~]

Have issues with Yelp? Make your issues our issues. PR folks in particular, feel free to share your Yelp encounters; we have a feeling this isn't the only instance.