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Stoppelman Blames "Some Sort of Rogue Sales Person"

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The latest mainstream media outlet to conduct an investigative probe into Yelp's unseemly advertising and (alleged) extortion tactics is The Register. If you've been following the saga, not many new items come to light, aside from more and more business owners coming forward and confirming what we've all suspected: that in exchange for dollars, Yelp will "help out" with negative reviews. And for the first time, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman half-acknowledges that maybe, just maybe, something illicit might be going on at Yelp HQ:

[Stoppelman] denied that the company hides reviews. "I think [these business owners] are mis-characterizing what's going on," he said. "There is no bumping of reviews."

But he didn't rule out the possibility that an offer was made. "There is a remote chance that we have some sort of rogue sales person, but I think that it's more likely it's just a business owner that's pissed off about reviews on his page."

Everyone got that? It was the rogue sales person. He hangs out with the lone gunman. Unfortunately, The Register's investigation quickly debunked this:

On Jeremy S.'s single rogue sales rep possibility:

The Reg can confirm, however, that multiple sales reps have made the offer to multiple businesses, and some pitches occurred in recent months, well after our initial interview with Stoppelman.
And like most rogues, the sales reps are rather persistent:
One restaurant owner was contacted "five or six" times, and each time, the Yelp sales rep insisted that if he forked over $6,000 a year for "sponsored link" status, the site would suppress user posts that put his restaurant in a less-than-positive light.
Oh, Yelp.
· Yelp 'pay to play' pitch makes shops scream for help [The Register]
· Business Owners 'Yelp' About Internet Ratings Site [CBS]
· Yelp Wanted Archives [~ESF~]

[Photo: Flickr/calmenda]

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