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West Roxbury dentist wants Yelp to extract bad review

A West Roxbury dentist charges that Yelp not only refused to remove what he said was a malicious post about his pracitice, it changed the post's status from "unreliable" to "reliable" when he refused to buy ads on the site.

Yelp counters it doesn't matter if the review is actually true or not because Yelp is protected by a federal law that holds online networks harmless for what their users write. And because Dr. Arian DiNapoli created his own Yelp account to answer the review, that means he agreed to Yelp terms of service, which require any legal actions to follow California law - which include an "anti-SLAPP" measure designed to make it hard to sue a somebody over public statements

DiNapoli originally filed his suit over what he calls Yelp's "extortionary" actions in state court, but Yelp, based in California, had it moved to federal court. At a hearing today, US District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor took under advisement a request from the review site to dismiss the case based on the federal and California laws.

The review, which remained up today on the Yelp page for his Centre Street practice claims DiNapoli ruined the writer's teeth and charged her for unnecessary work. It is the only one-star review on a page of five-star posts about him.

DiNapoli says the author wrote the post in revenge when he refused to give her a receipt for tax purposes that showed what he would normally charge for the work, rather than the deeply discounted bill he actually gave her because he felt sorry for her because she was destitute but needed extensive dental work.

In his complaint, DiNapoli says somebody from Yelp tried to sell him advertising in 2016. He says he declined, a Yelp account executive e-mailed him seeking 20 minutes of his time to talk about Yelp, he declined again, then another Yelp employee called his office asking for 30 minutes of his time to "go over Yelp ads."

DiNapoli charges that after he declined yet another Yelp attempt to get him to buy ads, on Jan 26, 2017, the company changed its rating of the woman's one-star review from "unreliable" and "not recommended" to "reliable" and "recommended" - and made it the third review on his page, pushing down more favorable reviews of his work. He added the company continues to mark at least five of his five-star reviews as "unreliable" and "not recommended."

DiNapoli says he created a Yelp account only after he contacted Yelp and was told that was the only way he could get a specific person to talk to about doing something about the review.

"Most egregious of all," his complaint continues, the company continues to place ads from his competitors right next to the one-star review.

DiNapoli is asking Saylor to order Yelp to either put all the reviews on his page in chronological order - which would push the now three-year-old bad review way down or remove his page altogether and to pay him the $373,687.50 he estimates he's lost due to the review's effect on his business - as well as triple damages.

DiNapolis complaint (2.1M PDF).
Yelp's motion to dismiss (27k PDF).

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a) What mechanisms are there for appeal or for due process on yelp?... b) appeal for content of a review?... c) appeal for a ban?... d) for the Boston area what regional/local yelp moderators are available for an appeal?

Voting closed 13

Yelp is an extortion racket. They can do what they want because people still trust the site.

Voting closed 11

Yelp.... every small business's nightmare. Not kidding.

Look, there's bad business out there. But some of the reviews on yelp for many not so bad businesses are just uncalled for. Many are just vindictive now, just do not have no merit to them.

And to top it off, now Yelp extorts money from business who have bad reviews by trying to sell ads.

I mean this guy just needs to let it go, but his lawsuit has alot of merit. Yelp has used their review system to now extort money from businesses to get reviews moved, or better ratings on their site.

The argument here is.. most businesses don't run out to yelp and ask to be put on. No, most start as a user who created a place and wrote a review. So they didnt ASK to be here, now they have to deal with it.

It really sucks for a Small biz.. I've fielded the "how do I fix Yelp" question so many times ...

Voting closed 9

But do people even really look at Yelp? It's just a forum for crackpots. And the ratings are skewed by Yelp to strongarm businesses into buying advertising. Anyone who is involved with a small business knows what a joke it is. I would imagine the general public has caught on at this point.

Voting closed 11

You'd be surprised.. I consult to many small business as an IT person, so I get asked ALOT on how to fix the reviews or if anything can be done. It happens much more than you think

And as far as it being a "joke".... Not really. Again just look at social media and the media these days to know how people take so much stuff seriously.

Voting closed 6

What lots of people say is that a Yelp salesperson will reach out to the business, and say that the bad reviews can be buried, if the business pays some money.

At least, that's how it used to work.

Voting closed 3

I mean this guy just needs to let it go, but his lawsuit has alot of merit.

No. If the lawsuit actually has merit (as opposed to 99% of lawsuits people file against others these days), then it should be pursued.

Voting closed 4

99% of lawsuits filed don't have merit? Um, what? According to whom? Who are all these plaintiffs spending money on meritless lawsuits?

Voting closed 10

Got right to the root of the story.

Voting closed 4

..to bridge the gap between his business and potential lost new patients.

Getting Yelp to remove a bogus review is like pulling teeth.

It sends the entire reputation of online ratings into decay, I tell ya.

Voting closed 3

Person I happen to know had a bad review about their business. It stated facts that never happened, listed names of people that don't work there, described people that don't work there, quoted prices that didn't match anything, then in the same post praised a competitor business.

The use of one review to praise another while knocking someone is a clear violation of their policy but they let it stand.

More recently someone again posted a negative review that included an LGBTQ slurs against a gay person that works there. Again Yelp, based in the conservative Rockies well-west of the Mississippi (read between those lines if you will) let that stand as well.


People that post fake news on that system are loosers. Those that read the reviews and believe them fall into the same bracket.

Go and find out for yourself and believe your own opinion. Anyone can set up a dozen fake accounts to try to put someone out of business while these jerks hide behind the skirts of federal protection laws. They love bad reviews because that racks up the click bait dollars that lines their pockets.

Vampires... all of them.

Voting closed 19

Yelp needs to be put in the dentist chair and asked 'is is safe?'

Voting closed 3

Tufts University School of Dental Medicine Clinic https://dental.tufts.edu/patient-care

Boston University School of Dental Medicine Clinic http://www.bu.edu/dental/patients/

Harvard University School of Dental Medicine Clinic https://hsdm.harvard.edu/harvard-dental-center

Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene https://www.mcphs.edu/patient-clinics/forsyth-dental-hygiene-clinic


Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Dentistry https://www.massgeneral.org/dental/

Forsyth Institute https://forsyth.org/

Voting closed 7