Yelp - Fake Reviews

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by ker_b, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. I stumbled upon the following review on Yelp some time ago:

    "Frozen Moments Portraits covered our family's wedding this past month and we were not satisfied with the service Kerri provided. The pictures turned out horrible and I should have expected this by the look of her website. Unfortunately we booked her due to her cheap price. Kerri had an attitude the entire time and was very rude when telling us how to pose for pictures - nobody should have to deal with this on their wedding day. PLEASE spend a little more on your photographer for better quality and service. It'll be worth it, trust me!"
    The reviewer lists their location in Maryland and also posted reviews in Virginia and DC. Here's the thing; I never shot a wedding in any of those places. Aside from that, each bride that I have photographed has not only written me a glowing testimonial, but I have also received referrals from them.
    I have brought the issue up to Yelp, specifically stating that I never photographed in said area. Their response is that while I may be unhappy with the negative review, it is not against the terms of service since it shows their experience. They suggested I try to contact the poster, which I did some time ago - of course receiving no answer.
    Worst yet, I am sure you all know that Yelp filters reviews. For some reason, this one star review is the only unfiltered. First I thought it was because said reviewer had posted more reviews, but there is another filtered review that has posted somewhere around 12.
    I feel this review is going to hurt me. When googling myself, it comes up right on top of the page. Yelp will no longer respond to my emails. Is fake reviews just something we need to deal with?
     
  2. i feel for you, that's just awful.
    i don't know the answer to your question, but i sincerely hope there is something that can be done.
    it can only be a competitor. how can some people sleep at night doing this kind of thing?
    if it were me i'd phone yelp, and just be very patient and not lose my temper but stay on the phone. that's the secret when dealing with these people, they won't hang up on you and if you don't hang up then they will give in - it's a technique that i've had 100% success with.
    best of luck
     
  3. Try leaving your own Review/statement as a rebuttal so that when someone Googles your name the rebuttal shows up too.
     
  4. I would speak to a lawyer about the possibility of suing Yelp for defamation. They're the publisher, so ought to be liable. A lawyer's letter should be enough at least to get them to remove it pronto.
     
  5. In addition to Simon's remarks and factoring in the any shielding of liability the site may enjoy, I also suggest consulting an attorney about obtaining an injunction against the person, a action for defamation and, if need be, a subpoena or other action to identify the party involved. This is not one of those times where representation by a lawyer is overkill or impractical. This may appear again elsewhere even if removed and follow you around and be very costly. You need to make sure this person does not make new posts of this nature about you as well anywhere. If the person is a pro photographer this may fall under an unfair trade practices type legislation that many states have. In my state a person liable for such a misrepresentation under the Unfair Trade Practices Act (a competitor certainly would qualify) has to pay the attorney fees among other things. If they do not have collectible assets, there is a fund where some financial recovery can be obtained. Maybe there are similar remedies there as well. Under some state statutes there might even be criminal conduct involved. I would show no mercy if personally attacked and potentially deprived of livelihood in this manner.
     
  6. John, I thought about that but its such a grey area. If I respond with a sort of an apology about their 'experience' then I am admitting guilt. On the other hand, if I say this event never occurred I am being unprofessional.
    As far as contacting Yelp, email is the only option as they have no phone number. I have been searching "Yelp fake reviews" and other variations for some time and came up with nothing. Oddly enough, as soon as I typed in "Yelp phone number" there were quite a few posts similar to mine. I also took a look at their BBB standings (http://www.bbb.org/greater-san-francisco/business-reviews/internet-services/yelpcom-in-san-francisco-ca-193927). I currently have an outstanding battle with Facebook for a relatively decent amount of money with the BBB so I don't think putting in a complaint with another company will help my case much.
    While speaking to a lawyer is a good thing, it also requires a sum of money that I unfortunately don't have to spend.
    I know there are many companies that remove negative reviews if you ask them and I don't entirely agree with this. A customer should be able to view both the negatives and positives. But, in this case I could supply proof that I never photographed there (by means of tax information from last year).
     
  7. On the other hand, if I say this event never occurred I am being unprofessional.​
    Correcting a blatant false and defamatory statement about your professional history is unprofessional? Is it not the opposite?
    speaking to a lawyer is a good thing, it also requires a sum of money​
    That's not true. Most lawyers handling these types of cases will give you an initial free consultation and some of them will prove to be very informative. As I mentioned, you may be entitled to collect attorney fees and if it it appears that money can be recovered in either event, attorneys routinely handle matters on contingency. Meaning they get paid from the proceeds. Please don't scare people in need of help off by making blanket statements like that.
     
  8. Yes, but the accusation to what is said to be an apparent past client. I suppose it's just a matter or wording.
     
  9. Yes, but the accusation to what is said to be an apparent past client. I suppose it's just a matter or wording.​
    You just told us "each bride that I have photographed has not only written me a glowing testimonial". Unless you made that up, the odds of this being a competitor vs. some disgruntled client are much different.
     
  10. I was speaking more for those who will stumble upon the review and see my response. I'll just have to put some good thought into it.
     
  11. You seem a bit confused about whether it is a client that posted it and whether you really want to get it removed. Assuming it is not genuine, then IMHO you would be absolutely crazy to even consider leaving it, with or without a comment from you attached.
    Yelp's details aren't hard to find out - a quick look at their terms gives their name, and a quick Google brings up:
    Company Overview

    Yelp, Inc., an online community, provides information on urban city guide. Its information helps people to find places to eat, shop, drink, relax, and play. Yelp, Inc. was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
    706 Mission Street
    7th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    United States
    Founded in 2004
    Phone:
    415-908-3801
    Fax:
    415-462-0506
    www.yelp.com
    Key Executives

    Mr. Russel Simmons Co-Founder and Advisor Mr. Vlado Herman Chief Financial Officer Mr. Nish Nadaraja Marketing Director Ms. Cindy Mesaros Vice President of People Mr. Denis O'Dwyer Vice President of Local Sales​
    If the review is fake and you want to remove it, you need a lawyer's letter. You might want to try to find out who posted it at the same time. But it's up to you.
     
  12. I'm not sure why you would say that. What's to be confused about? I've never been in those states. I have no other way to find out who posted it. I will see what I can do about a lawyer.
     
  13. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion overall.
     
  14. i'm confused, but i shouldn't be.
    if the review is a lie, then get it removed. end of story.
     
  15. Before trying to get the review removed, you should determine if it is really fake. Even though the reviewer appears to be in places in which you've never shot a wedding, they could have moved to those places since you photographed their wedding. Nothing like hiring a lawyer to sue people and then find out you actually photographed their wedding.
    I'd try to find out first, but if I couldn't find out, I'd post a rebuttal, calmly saying that you've never photographed a wedding in those locations. You don't have to accuse the reviewer of anything. I thought the reviewer had to post their wedding date. If so, wouldn't it be easy to find out?
     
  16. OK, I looked at the entry more closely, and the reviewer says you photographed a family wedding in the month previous to his/her entry. The reviewer's member page shows other reviews for vendors related to weddings. I would think you'd be able to figure out who it might possibly be...
     
  17. The review isn't consistent. She says it was family but she also says that she booked us. I wish that you wouldn't assume that I didn't do that research before posting here.
    I keep in contact with my brides and they haven't moved. They have also seen the post and were completely unaware and after the fact, still months later I have them send clients to me.
    Like I said, I'll see what a lawyer has to say.
     
  18. I didn't assume you didn't do your research. However, I assume you know each bride you photographed in the month or two before the post date. I would make sure that I could rule out each one, one by one. If she is a 'she', for instance, why is her name Mark C.? If she is using an alias, perhaps the location is fake as well. For some reason, some people will tell you that you did a great job, and then gripe about you when you can't respond in person. Strange, but true. It could be a family member posing as the bride. In other words, you cannot really conclude definitively that the review is fake until you really know who Mark C. is.
    I don't know why you feel posting a rebuttal is unprofessional. You needn't go on the defensive. Just sound slightly perplexed--say you never photographed a wedding in Maryland or for anyone named Mark C., so perhaps they have their facts wrong, and anyway, if anyone had any problems with any wedding you photographed, you are always open to discussion...
     
  19. I take it there's no chance of this being a case of similar or same name? After all it's not as if your name is Nebuchadnezzar or something so as to have very little or no chance of another person having the same name as you...
    Aside from that, I think you should be a little bit more lenient and friendly to the people here - they're, after all, only trying to help you and part of that help is ensuring you don't act foolishly or haphazardly...;-)
     
  20. Kerry initially presented the situation as a fake review and the initial answers assumed that for the sake of discussion and that was under the assumption that the identity would need to be revealed before acting. Given the the follow ups and other information fleshed the odds of this being a fake are more in flux than ever. Hopefully this hasn't been a wasted effort.
     
  21. "Most lawyers handling these types of cases will give you an initial free consultation and some of them will prove to be very informative."
    John's a lawyer and I'm not, but I'd like to chime in on this comment to say that I agree. I had until a few years ago a strong lawyer-phobia. I didn't like the idea of lawyers until I had a situation wehre I thought I was outgunned, so I called one and got great advise in one of theose free consultations John mentions. He told me I could talk to him for 15 mintues and in that time he not only told me what I needed to know but made me feel confident that he knew what he was talking about. (In that situation there were no actual damages except for my ego and it didn't seem to be worth pursuing legally.) I still have a bit of lawyer-aversion but realize that calling a professional is a good thing when one is needed. For the OP, this might be one of those times!
     
  22. Ker, you should know that every comment here has been made in support of you and your effort to clear your good name. Please don't take anything here personally or as intending any kind of offense. Nadiine, for example, was highlighting a possibility that many people overlook, namely, that the person posting the review was actually a member of a client's family and was actually unhappy about something, but chose to obfuscate his or her identity and location to avoid confrontation with you. This, of course, is not a legitimate or honorable way of offering feedback, but some people do this. Nadine simply wanted to help you consider every possibility to avoid going to the trouble of hiring a lawyer only to find out that the writer actually did participate in a wedding you shot, however remote that possibility might be.
    A lawyer can do a couple of things for you. He or she can send a letter to Yelp informing them that you have legal representation and an expectation that Yelp will not facilitate or participate in your defamation, or otherwise interfere with your business. A lawyer may also be able to issue a subpoena to Yelp to force them to turn over information that could help you identify the party who wrote that critical comment.
    These are important steps, and if you're sensing any critical spirit in any of the posts you've read, above, it is mainly coming from confusion on our part about why you would hesitate to take steps that seem quite obviously necessary to protect your business against apparently malicious defamation.
     
  23. Also bear in mind that because Yelp is the publisher of the defamation, they should be liable for it. This means they have an interest in helping you identifying the person who made the comment (and/or removing it), since they will hope to deflect any potential liability from themselves.
    The way the comment is worded however it does sound it may have been made by a family member rather than the bride and groom: "covered our family's wedding this past month" ie. not "covered my wedding"
     
  24. Yelp is the publisher of the defamation, they should be liable for it.​
    There is the "Section 230" issue to contend with which was designed, among other things, to shield websites from liability for things other people say that the site can't verify. Imagine if photo.net could be liable for for potentially defamatory statements the contributors make. It would have a chilling effect on user contribution websites even existing...
    http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/230
    http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/immunity-online-publishers-under-communications-decency-act
    But there are potential limits evolving...
    http://maudnewton.com/blog/?p=8711
     
  25. The way the comment is worded however it does sound it may have been made by a family member rather than the bride and groom: "covered our family's wedding this past month" ie. not "covered my wedding"
    Simon, the next sentence also says "we booked her", though. If my cousin books someone do I consider myself involved with that? Unless of course I was the one to either sign a paper or hand a check. But maybe I'm wrong. That's where I am having trouble finding the consistency and what raises the flag for me.
    Aside from that, I think you should be a little bit more lenient and friendly to the people here - they're, after all, only trying to help you and part of that help is ensuring you don't act foolishly or haphazardly...;-)
    I was offended at the assumptions that I didn't research this on my own. I have tried every angle to find out where this post came from and am at a total loss. If it wasn't an assumption, then it was my error to believe so.
     
  26. I'm sorry you were offended. As stated, I didn't assume you didn't do your research. I just don't think you can definitively conclude the review is fake. I was just trying to point out some possibilities, particularly since, if you go down any legal avenues, you will first have to be able to prove the review is fake. At this point, you cannot, so I doubt you will make much headway in any legal pursuit.
    Here is just one possibility. Perhaps the reviewer is using her husband's Yelp ID. Perhaps she is a relative of a bride you photographed. Perhaps she was taking lots of pictures herself, with thoughts to get into wedding photography. Perhaps on the day of the wedding, you inadvertently offended her, maybe by asking her to stop taking pictures. Perhaps as a relative, she had input on who the bride hired for a photographer. Perhaps she just got married herself, which is why her other reviews are for wedding dress shops. Perhaps she never told the bride she was offended. Lots of 'perhaps'es, but stranger things have happened.
    I also allow that perhaps this is a completely fake review, written by someone out to get you. Regardless, as I stated above, you will need to prove whether the review is fake or not before taking any legal action. You can't sue the reviewer without knowing who he or she is.
    As for legal action against Yelp--I think your chances are very small at making any dent in changing their practices. As I recall, and I didn't do any research on this, there was a recent uproar over their supposed practice of squelching negative reviews for businesses that advertised on Yelp, and not for businesses that didn't. I don't recall seeing anything about the result of the uproar. I also doubt they will reveal anything about the reviewer. If they did that, they would be out of business shortly thereafter.
    I watched Yelp's video about their filtering process. Very convenient to hide behind. I suppose their answer to your claim that a reviewer with 12 reviews was filtered, would be that the quality (ratings) of the negative reviewer was higher. Personally, I think that if they are only going to show one review for you, if negative--they should show at least one other positive review.
    Again, I suggest you post a rebuttal. At the very least, in the time the one negative review is shown, people can read your response. Just the fact that you responded will show people you care about someone who is obviously disgruntled. People can read the filtered reviews as well.
     
  27. if you go down any legal avenues, you will first have to be able to prove the review is fake.​
    Well, actually, a real review could be actionable it contains false and defamatory facts. Claims that are mixed opinion and fact are more difficult and pure opinion generally a deal breaker. I personally agree with the bulk of what was said however.
     
  28. OK John, but I don't see any 'false and defamatory' statements in the review. It looks like all opinion to me. But I'm not a lawyer.
     
  29. A couple of things that I noticed -
    1) reviewer name is Mark C - yet "he" reviews dress / gown shops - so that seems like the wife is using his account. One other thing - it doesn't say if she is trying on wedding dresses or maid of honor gowns or MOB dresses.... So it could very well be one of the relatives of the bride - I've had it happen before where the bride was happy with me and my work, but Maid's of Honor / Bridemaids were - shall we say dissapointed....
    2) Don't know why they would point out 5 different dress shops and then single out one photographer. 3 of the 5 dress shops got 1 star... 2 got 5 stars...
    3) The review is almost a year old... have you really been trying for a year to remove it?
    I'd suggest going back a couple of years in your records and seeing if you did a wedding for anyone with the last name starting with a "C" or anyone with a Mark as the groom... Also - do a google search for Frozen Images Phography (if you haven't already)... I found a couple of different variations on the name - but then again - they call you by name... which leads me to believe that it is aimed at you...
    Just seems odd that if it is a competitor - that they would go through the trouble of reviewing 5 dress shops and you... and then pick 3 of the 5 to receive 1 star...
     
  30. Actually it does say she was shopping for wedding dresses ("I've been shopping for wedding dresses and Maria's Bridal salon was the 4th store I visited.")
    I came across the review in October and have been trying to find a way to fix it. I did my research, which amounted to nothing. I have receive lists of every person in each bridal party, including family, and there is not a single Mark or C. A few brides even left reviews to try to balance it out because they couldn't believe that someone would write that. With their filtering system, that did nothing either. The reviewer refuses to answer messages. And then there is the battle with Yelp.
    Nadine, what I don't understand is how the fact that she said that I covered her family's wedding and then proceeded to say she booked me. That is the part that really baffles me.
     
  31. Just to add, Yelp does not offer phone support. When calling you receive an automated message stating to visit their site and contact them there.
     
  32. K.--that is why, in one of my 'perhaps'es, I mentioned that she might have been involved in the booking process, as a friend of the bride, or extended families, maybe. The language used is--"we booked her", not "I booked her". I would still continue to think back on the weddings during that particular period to see if you can remember any incidents, no matter how small, that might have resulted in someone being unhappy about the way you handled things--particularly for posed group shots, since that is mentioned.
    I sense that you are fixated on the review itself and in trying to figure out or make sense of it. Hard as it might be, I would take a step back and disengage myself, particularly emotionally. I may be completely wrong, but I would say that you will not have much luck with getting Yelp to actually remove the review. This is why I suggest you post a rebuttal.
    "Mark C., since I can't identify you as a former client, would you please contact me with your concerns? I give my all at each and every wedding I photograph, and pride myself on good customer relations, so it grieves me to hear such comments. I am always more than happy to talk to clients, their families and friends to clear up any misunderstandings."
    You should use your words, of course, but you get the idea. And this is not to get Mark C. to reveal him/herself. This is so other people can see that a) you have no idea who Mark C. is and b) you care enough about your clients to respond in the face of a very negative review.
     
  33. Thanks, I more or less throw in the towel now.
     
  34. Before you throw in the towel - there is one more option that hasn't been explored here and I was remiss in not suggesting it earlier.
    Many local TV stations / Newspapers have a "whistleblower" or consumer affairs division - they have ways of getting corporations to do things that you and I do not - I know our local teams have gotten responses / calls back / etc from many voiceless and faceless corporations.
    Dave
     
  35. I just received an email that another client left a review. I clicked and noticed that it is not filtered and now my star rating went up. I am the first review she has posted. I just don't get it, why would the others be hidden for so long? Sigh
    Dave if you could be kind enough to elaborate just a bit more I'd really appreciate it.
     
  36. David H. has a good point. I think that's how I learned about the preferential treatment of advertisiers. However, your angle will be about their filtering process, not to get them to remove the review. Along the lines of what I mentioned above--if there is only one review out of three total, and if the one review shown is a negative one, at least also post one positive one.
     
  37. Nadine that was my primary concern. All of the positive being filtered and no actual explanation as to why.
     
  38. Well if you watched the video about their filtering process, supposedly, the people whose reviews are shown have higher review ratings. And supposedly, reviews are not 'stuck' in place--the reviews can go into filtration and come out again. It just looked like someone had it in for you at Yelp because out of 3 reviews, only the negative one is shown.
    They filter to try to improve the chances of the truth winning out, and in an effort to filter out both 'staged' reviews and overly negative reviews. Unfortunately, numbers help a great deal in this kind of process, and having only 3 reviews isn't helping. So I wouldn't just sit back now. Things may change, so I'd still write the rebuttal.
     
  39. This may sound cold blooded, but given what I've learned about Internet marketing over the past year, I wouldn't put my dog on a leash over an Internet review.
    For example, the review may be "fake", but actually not be about you at all. It might very well be an attempt to drive business in favor of someone else in your area. Or, there could be any number of motivations, not immediately apparent. And yes, it's likely that people who read over the reviews might not even be wise to the idea that someone would spam up a review to shape a market.
    How far will people go to those ends? Well, have a look through some ad company websites sometime. On a computer nerd website I visit sometimes, someone was flat-out asking for a programmer to come up with a way to inflate hits to a specific Internet website.
    And then, sparing no expense, offered $50 for the task. We're talking compromise your integrity for truck-stop sex worker prices. Really. And then put it in writing, to boot.
    You seem like an honest person. Don't forget that you may be plagued by neighboring mercenaries. And, they often don't play fair. But, you've got to do stuff right. It'll work out better that way.
    Check out the spam that gets purged from photo.net. I am convinced that there are people who will get an account to some websites, sit on that account for a year or two, and then post in some kind of way (maybe nice, maybe inflammatory) but post for the specific purpose of manipulating others. Then disappear. It's a common tactic, Internet-wide. So, in a way, there is little you can do about a third party referral because people get their say, even when it's unfair.
    The best way you can be unfair back is to put up a good sound display of your own and try to do a good job out there. There are a lot of people out there on the Internet who are lying. Don't get too bogged down into it if you can. It may not be worth the trouble. Sometimes it is, but others not.
    If you are, on your own, doing good work and trying; then, you are already ahead of some guys. Commercially, you are a threat to them. It's a sad state of affairs, but that's it. Some people are lazy and will try to make a buck however. If you are doing anything that builds equity, you are ahead of those guys. They may try to counterattack or attack but cutting you down. How far are you going to get in arguing with those guys? Not too far. It's okay. They'll do themselves in after a while.
    Think on it like this: is there any way you can prove your point without getting mired in a he said/she said power-play type of argument? If your main answer is that you are going to try to somehow overpower the other party, you're already suckered into responding to them. You don't want to be reactionary. You want to lead people on your own merits.
    If you're reacting to them too much, that gives them power.
    Then, if it's a review that's real, and they didn't like you, and then you're arguing with them after: how's that going to look? Think of this situation in a disinterested fashion. The other people talking might not be right in what they're doing or saying; and, even though you're trying to be good, you might not be either. Regardless, of how good or bad someone is, including you, you still want to come out on top.
    Are you going to chew out some Little Old Lady from Pasadena or Charlie Manson's Cheering Section? What about the girl with fat thighs who got married and now she's having buyer's remorse over her new, but balding and bad-breathed husband? It could be any number of factors coloring their review. Do you want to engage those arguments in any kind of way that would do anything other than improve your standing, socially and commercially?
    So, whether they're naughty or nice, your plan needs to make you look like Stud of the Century. Play it out wrong, and you will look like Sir Nerdly and The Whiners Type a Rant. So, think it through.
    A lot of folks are honest. And a lot of folks have to leave X comments to meet their quota and get some sales in. So, keep that in mind when you look over some of these reviews. Who's getting paid? Who is motivated to tell the truth here? How can you possibly know?
     
  40. Contact your local newspaper / tv station and ask to speak to their consumer affairs reporter. Consumer affairs reporters deal with companies that don't respond to consumers, that rip people off and are not good in general.
    Here - the reporters for the local paper do a thing called "Whistleblower" - they do some hard stories, pass along consumer items via a blog and will dig to find out what really is going on.
    A lot of reporters have contacts at the companies or people that are in that city that have contacts. It is amazing how fast companies respond when they find out that the press is calling.
    Dave
     
  41. And, as you can see from that video-arrow-click discussion above, the primary person getting paid in all this is probably the guy who's hosting the review.
    Now, if you call him up and say, "Take down that bad review about me," how is that going to meet his needs? Social and moral fairness? Please, don't pose that question while an adviser is drinking some coffee, they may choke out on their beverage!
    Whether the review about you is good or bad in your eyes, the review web site host-er still gets paid. He's in the mass communication business. He gets lots of traffic in and lots of traffic out. Some traffic clicks on his ads, and he gets paid.
    How is his situation going to change in responding to you? How can you make it change positively? Is it worth the effort? Does he even have any influence? Is it greater than your own? When you Google up yourself, does his site rank above yours in a display about your own services? Or, are you still top dog as it is?
    What was motivating that person to write a poor review, directed at you? What was motivating the person hosting the site to keep it up? What's going to motivate the person who is going to read all of that? How are they going to change or react to information?
    Your job is to motivate people into buying services from you. How are your needs going to be met by manipulating those others? And how should you prepare them to do your bidding?
    It's a lot easier to make good pictures and drive on; but, if you want to take action, I recommend you think it through. What are those people doing, and what are they going to do?
     
  42. Very helpful and something I'll certainly read over again tomorrow. Thank you.
     
  43. Aside from the intricacies of this particular problem, do you have legal insurance? If so then you should check the small print, it may cover your expenses for legal advice on defamation, drawing up cease & desist letters etc. If you don't have legal insurance then you should definitely shop around for a good plan that includes those kinds of things, as well as the presumably more common issues with liability, property damage and such.
     
  44. I am covered with liability and damage but I am not sure about legal. I will look into it.
     
  45. The suggested help of a newspaper may not be something you want. You cannot control what a paper prints if they were to run with a story to protect a merchant from someone who purports to be a wounded consumer.
    More so, one of the huge reasons that actions for slander and libel are not brought very often (indeed they are exceedingly rare despite the daily slander in our press) is that a public lawsuit will repeat the noxious allegations in the general press, again, and again, throughout the lawsuit.
    Of course the other reason huge that libel and slander are not brought more often is that the offender may not have very deep pockets. The measure of damages for the plaintiff is lost income attributable to the slander. Short of your business drying up, that sounds like a tough row to hoe.
    Finally, while I remember the reading of Yelp's creation, they faded into obscurity in my life until this thread came along. I'd look into ways to try to manipulate my site's Google ranking with the belief that Yelp is likely to fade away.
    Good luck.
    PS, one of the things that scared me away from wedding photography was the fear that the bride's mother (or some such other relative) would be a bear to deal with even if there were a great relationship with the bride and groom. All of you wedding photogs have my respect for wading into those situations and usually coming out of with a happy customer.
     
  46. The measure of damages for the plaintiff is lost income attributable to the slander.​
    This ignores the major exception allowing reputation damages when the defamation is "per se" which applies in most states and frequently encompasses, among other things, making defamatory false statements about one's conduct in their profession and trade. The topic being discussed here.
    the daily slander in our press​
    This is a very misleading statement but too off topic to get in to further.
     
  47. If my memory serves me correctly, if you become a paid advertiser, you have the ability to delete or block certain comments. Seems like extortion to me. Also, several court cases have had rulings which basically say "It is not ok to slander/defame another individual on internet postings"
    Come up with an estimate of potential financial damage done to your business and go talk with an attorney and see if they will take it on as a contingency
     
  48. Seems like extortion​
    It's not.
     
  49. A dignified response would be to write a review/article on how to choose a wedding photographer. If that gets too wordy or long winded then provide a link to an article.
     
  50. I stand corrected. If per se slander is proved, damages need not be specially proved. It has been a long time.
    Dave Ralph
     
  51. Hiring a lawyer would seem an expensive waste of time to me. I am also not sure that "Local Business Unhappy with Yelp Review" would go far as a headline outside of The Onion. It doesn't seem at all clear that the review is unauthentic. I am nor sure how you would prove that, but the location in the user account seems unconvincing. My Yelp profile location is out of date right now, in fact.
    It is no fun, but you are probably stuck with it. You could ask happy customers to consider leaving feedback to give a more accurate picture of your services.
     
  52. Well, if it's someone is trying to drive business away from you and going to the trouble to commit libel (it's not slander, that's spoken word), or somehow mistaken you for someone else, I think it's your reputation at stake now. If it's done intentionally, there may be more recourse. People look at Yelp all the time. I think it is worth talking to a lawyer for a consult and perhaps a letter to Yelp. The main thing is not so much to get damages, it's unknown if you have any from this, but what you need is not a counter statement, which I suppose is better than nothing, you actually need Yelp to remove the false reviews. I would also look at your local Craig's list etc. or that type of thing and make sure there's nothing on there either. Really, i don't want to engender a big paranoid response, but if as you say, these reviews are totally false for made up events, I'd go the extra step. I'd suggest you call up an attorney, they will be happy to give you a quote for a consultation or they may just tell you there is no reasonable recourse to just move on. At least you will know your options.
     
  53. After reading this nightmare review by an unknown reviewer, I looked up my own name and found that I was listed as CLOSED!! It appears that Yelp allowed an unknown person to close my business after 35 years.
    Like Mark Twain said, "The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated!"
    To be fair to Yelp I did have to move the location of my business after more than 20 years because of a condo conversion 3 years ago. But before they list a business as “CLOSED” they should at least do a Google search themselves to verify the business is indeed closed, and not just moved to another location.
    As far as reviews by unknown reviewers, they are an open invitation to deception. But I too have read reviews of many products online before purchasing them. However, Wedding Photography is just too important for anonymous reviews.
    References should be checked every time, I have even had some wedding couples volunteer to meet the couple and show them their own wedding album in person!
    Like any one that has been in business a long time, referrals are the best source of new customers, they cost you nothing, and are your best salesmen or saleswomen.
     
  54. Just took a look at Yelp again. They have again decided to filter all of my new positive reviews, but I have left the negative year old review in tact.
     

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