Food News

Yelp's Lawsuit Letter To Paid Scouts: Don't Throw Away Your Records

Miami lawyer Jared Beck's lawsuit against Yelp has already led to some real changes at the giant of user-generated reviews.

On April 5, Yelp's CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, announced that the company would stop allowing businesses to pay to place a positive review atop their profile, and that Yelp would add a link to deleted reviews.

As we report in this week's New Times, Beck and his plaintiffs say the changes don't go nearly far enough and that they're in the lawsuit for the long haul.

Although Yelp has a hearing in Los Angeles on May 3 on a motion to dismiss the case, it's clear the company is also girding for a lengthy legal battle.

Case in point: New Times has obtained a letter Yelp sent to one of its paid "scouts" in the Midwest on March 31 (about a week before announcing the site's changes).

The letter says that Yelp's Elite Squad has been accused of being "an agent of coercion," and instructs the scout to keep correspondance and documents related to their reviews.

Click through for a PDF of the letter. 

The letter specifically mentions 15 businesses by name (ten of whom are plaintiffs in Beck's lawsuit), from California, Chicago, New York and elsewhere, and asks the scout to preserve "anything relating the to the work you performed for Yelp and the following businesses."

Here is the letter in full:

yelpletter1.pdf

yelpletter2.pdf 

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink