Does Yelp Filter Reviews Based on Advertising?

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Every time I mention my not-entirely-positive feelings about Yelp on The Range, a parade of the site's rabid supporters hit our comment section proclaiming that I'm jealous or stupid or whatever, but if Yelp is such a spectacular outlet for the voice of the everyday consumer, why are advertisers complaining the results are fixed?

But while Yelp is growing, Mattress City's Patey said his business is suffering. "We are being sabotaged because we are not interested in paying $350 a month," he said.

Patey said he had several months of positive reviews last summer, but a couple days after he rejected a Yelp salesperson's pitch about advertising on the site, he saw his positive reviews disappear, leaving one negative review at the top of his company's Yelp page.

He was also threatened by a Yelp employee, he said. On the last of several phone calls in which Patey asked why he needed the advertising if he already had positive reviews, the salesperson told him,"You are about to find out," and hung up on him, Patey said. After that, Mattress City didn't have a positive review on its page for five months, he said.

Today his Yelp page displays two negative reviews and one positive — even though there are 35 additional filtered reviews, 32 of which carry five stars. But readers can only access those other reviews by clicking on a nearly invisible link at the bottom of the page called "35 Filtered" and passing the distorted-text security measure....

Besides these recent cases, 15 complaints have been filed against Yelp at the Washington Attorney General's Office since January 2009. Half of them raised similar issues.

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