One local Dallas restaurant owner is publicly taking Yelp to task over its business practices. Bob Sinnott is the owner of Toasted, the Lower Greenville and Ross Avenue restaurant devoted to toast (aka a major millennial food group), and he voiced his complaints about Yelp yesterday to WFAA ABC 8.
Sinnott said Yelp associates called the restaurant constantly — up to four calls a day — asking him to pay Yelp a monthly fee to help manage his page. When Sinnott put a hard stop to the idea, he claims some positive reviews for Toasted fell off the restaurant’s Yelp page.
"At the point where I finally said, 'I am not going to do this,' my review average dropped below four for the first time, and I noticed a chunk of reviews had been moved off," Sinnott said. "Clearly because I was not considering to pay them.”
Sinnott says he believes “100 percent” that this was retribution from Yelp for not paying for ads. He’s not the only restaurateur with that suspicion: there’s a documentary currently in the works examining about Yelp’s allegedly shady business practices.
But not many owners are willing to speak up like Sutton, according to the documentary's filmmaker. "Ninety-five percent of the business owners declined an interview on camera," Billion Dollar Bully's Kaylie Milliken told Eater this summer. "'We can’t take the retaliation from Yelp,' they said."
A quick scan of Toasted’s Yelp page today shows mostly four and five star reviews.
A Yelp spokesperson told WFAA that "any claims that Yelp manipulates reviews for money, or that advertisers are treated any differently than non-advertisers, are completely false and have been repeatedly dismissed by courts of law, thoroughly researched and disproven by academic study, and investigated by government regulators, including the FTC, who closed a nearly two-year investigation without taking action."