Jonathan Ingalls, acclaimed cinematographer of Blackfish, has joined the Billion Dollar Bully team. This will no doubt lead to a very impactful documentary, which takes on claims of alleged extortion by Yelp salespeople, and investigates Yelp and its business practices.
In April, signs started popping up in locations on the streets (literally) around Birmingham, AL. Birmingham Bikeshare is testing out potential locations around the city to see where the public would find the bike service the most convenient. Passersby can anonymously text their approval or opinion of the location to the Bikeshare team using TalkToTheManager. It’s an efficient way for Bikeshare to gather feedback and record that feedback for review, and super-convenient for the public to give their input, without sharing their phone number.
We’re excited to see how the folks in Birmingham are participating in this effort, and we look forward to bringing this innovation in public outreach to other cities.
Recently two women in Boston seated themselves without reservations at a restaurant and threatened to leave a bad review if they were removed. And last month in San Francisco, surveillance footage at a Chinese restaurant proved a Yelper made up a story about poor treatment in a 1-star review.
Businesses often claim that Yelp salespeople call them to sell them on advertising services, and when they decline Yelp responds by burying positive reviews and surfacing negative ones to the top. Yelp denies these practices, and frequently points to failed lawsuits, an FTC investigation, and a study which it says prove that these stories are nothing more than conspiracy theories.
Yesterday, just 4 days after the anti-yelp documentary “Billion Dollar Bully” launched its funding campaign on Kickstarter, Yelp has already released a statement about the makers of the film, and their VP of corporate communications appeared in a joint interview with the producer on CNBC.
Thanx, which helps merchants identify, engage, and retain their best customers, today published "6 Critical Stats for Customer Loyalty," a 2014 retail and restaurant study highlighting the major customer retention challenges U.S. businesses face amidst an increasingly indiscriminate population. Analyzing more than 18 million multi-location merchant transactions, Thanx found that revenue was highly-concentrated among a small number of customers, with the top 25% contributing 64% of revenue – "top-heaviness" even more pronounced in retail.
We’ve all heard stories of star ratings taking a nosedive after a restaurateur declined advertising or other services offered by Yelp salespeople. And you always weren’t sure if it’s true or just coincidence.
In September, a federal appeals court threw out a suit brought by small-business owners claiming Yelp extorted advertising payments from them by manipulating reviews on its site. That ruling emphasized in part that Yelp has no obligation to publish positive reviews for businesses. In 2011, a federal judge tossed an earlier suit. In January, the Federal Trade Commission ended an inquiry of the company without taking action.
This documentary hopes to uncover dirty secrets behind Yelp operations. Prost Productions is raising $60,000 on Kickstarter to fund production and post-production of its investigative documentary. They’ve raised $10,640 so far, with 31 days left to go. They raised $5,000 on day 1.
From the filmmakers:
Billion Dollar Bully is an investigative documentary about Yelp that examines the claims by business owners of extortion, review manipulation and review fabrication. In this documentary you will meet business owners from across a broad spectrum, whose commonality is their allegations of Yelp’s questionable business dealings.
For years, Yelp has been accused of unethical business practices, all of which Yelp vehemently denies and chalks up as conspiracy theories.
Business owners and consumers deserve to see arguments for and against Yelp’s business tactics. After so much debate in the media, this documentary is long overdue.
Check out their promotional video:
And their Kickstarter plea by Kaylie Milliken:
What do you think? Would you help fund this project?
We’ve heard of Yelpers accused of extorting restaurant owners – demanding special treatment under threat of a negative Yelp review.
Such a thing can backfire, and when it does, it can backfire hard. According to Eater Boston, a pair of "smug-looking" customers walked into chef Michael Scelfo’s restaurant Alden & Harlow last week with no reservation, decided to seat themselves without any reservation, and then proceeded to berate and insult the restaurant staff. The impudent duo refused to leave and threatened the restaurant with an awful Yelp review.