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Updated: Aug 13, 2023

As a small business you look for deals, advantages, tools, and more to help you run and promote your business. Direct to Consumer businesses in particular require internet presence.

Yelp has made themselves known as a customer review platform where businesses of all kinds can create profiles, upload logos and images, and have customers leave reviews. Aside from Google reviews, Yelp is the biggest platform out there. The sad part is, they're crooks.

My experience with Yelp began in August of 2022. They were running a promotion - $300 free advertising - cancel at any time. The package includes all sorts of services - Ads, profile, etc. - most that have a free option. So I signed up - the promotion reads "Get $300 of free ads on us" - I thought, what's there to loose? It turns out $1080.

They require a Credit Card for this promotion because after the $300 in free ads are spent you then have to continue to pay for your ads - and more. The "and more" is the trick here. Because after the $300 in ads is spent they continue to charge you for the rest of the "upgrade package" associated with the $300 worth of free ads promotion - Wait what? What "upgrade package"? I thought all this was included as part of the promotion. ONE PROMOTION. So that when you want to "cancel at anytime" you only have to cancel that ONE PROMOTION - the ads. But nope. Not the case. (see there ad below):

Screen shot of Yelp ad on Google - "Free Ads" - deceptive marketing
Screen shot of Yelp Ad on Google demonstrating their marketing tactics

Here's where they trick you - the ads and the "upgrade package" even though they are sold together in the promotion package - are billed separately. You can see above in the Yelp Google ad, there isn't even a mention of an "upgrade package". It's rolled into the services that come along with the ads. So, when I discontinued the Ad promotion in September - along with what I thought was everything else I had signed up for - I continued to be charged for this "upgrade package". In my mind, the promotion ended when I ended the ads. Because that's what the promotion advertises. I thought everything would end - all the bells and whistles that I got upon signing up for the promotion. It was packaged together in the promotion after all. Why would it be separate afterwards? The answer - so they can keep charging you for worthless services that - by their own analytics provide NO VALUE AT ALL - all the while running no ads to bring in customers.

So, the ads were ended and I wasn't being charged for them. But this "upgrade package" that included a bunch of services that are mostly available in their FREE profile package I continued to be billed for. For 6 months. Mind you, they won't allow you to delete your payment method. Nope. You have to call customer service to put in a request to their finance department who, once they get the request, takes 4-5 business days to remove your card, incase you (according to them) owe them MORE money.

I noticed in October that Yelp was still charging me for something, but when I checked my dashboard it seemed Ads were turned off. So It made no sense. I once again made sure ads were off, and figured I just hadn't turned it off right in the first place. But it wasn't the ads I was being charge for - it was this "upgrade package" that they roll up with the ad promotion. And if you don't cancel that, you continue to get billed $180 per month for services that you really don't need. If you have a professional website you get all these services through them. They are ad-ons that are superfluous and don't ad any value at all. (That's subjective, I know. Maybe some people find them helpful. But the usefulness of the "upgrade package" isn't the point.) The point is that they roll it all into one promotion - but BILL IT SEPARATELY AFTER THE PROMOTION IS OVER! So even though it SEEMS you've signed up for one thing, you have to cancel two things separately in order to make all the charges go away.

And they don't allow you control over your credit card. You can't just delete it from your business dashboard. Only they can. So they can continue to take your money until they've made sure they are paid in full. For services you didn't even use, didn't know you had, haven't provided any value for your business, and that you were paying for when you thought you cancelled.

Yup.That's Yelp.

Even their user dashboard is built to deceive. Check it out:

Where above do you see a tab for "services" or "Products"? You don't. The "page upgrade tab" implies they are offering you an option you don't already have. To find out the products and services you're being billed for you have to look under the "billing" tab - which on most other platforms only contains your billing information and billing methods. The products they are charging you for are intentionally hidden. So you don't see them right up front. So when I canceled the ads, thinking I was cancelling the entire promotion that came with the ads, I had no idea that wasn't the case. And when I called there customer service help line, I waited on hold for 2.5 hours before hanging up and having to call again the next day. And the next day their service agent told me I wasn't eligible for any refunds because all my services had been active the whole time. Services I thought had been cancelled when I cancelled the ads that had been sold together with them - services I didn't know I had.

They make it unclear intentionally. They make it difficult to cancel intentionally. This is a BIG company with User Interface experts designing ALL OF THIS. If they wanted all of this to be clear, it would be. It isn't. So they can take your money for useless services that they intentionally make unclear you're paying for at all. The only way I found out was by Googling it. Which I hope people do with this blog. So that you all can avoid getting dooped out of $1080 like I was.

You know, "fine print" is really bull shit. It's the legal way of deceiving somebody. "Well it was all there in the service agreement". Which are intentionally long and difficult to understand so they can rob you legally. Because you'd have to have a lawyer to be able to catch most of these things. And what you would catch is INTENT TO DECEIVE.

They absolutely knew that the promotion seemed to bill everything together. They certainly knew that they weren't billing everything together. Please don't loose out on your money they way I did mine. And please don't use Yelp. If a business has goods and services that are Real and valuable, they don't have to deceive you or convolute their offerings. It's straight forward and simple, Every time.

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