Some businesses say salespeople from online review site Yelp.com offered to play up positive comments - for a price

  • Patisserie Angelica owner Condra Easley got good reviews on Yelp. November 14, 2008. The Press Democrat / Jeff Kan Lee

The Internet is calling -- frequently.

Sonoma County business owners are on the receiving end of a marketing blitz by online review site Yelp.com.

The San Francisco-based company has launched an aggressive telemarketing effort to get more advertisers on its site.

Frequent sales pitches aren't new -- as anyone who lets their newspaper subscription lapse knows.

But some business owners feel Yelp's telemarketers have gone too far, and that its salespeople are misleading.

Yelp lets people share their reviews about businesses and has become a popular search tool to find shops and services.

Now some business owners are giving Yelp negative reviews for its sales pitch.

Condra Easley, co-owner of Patisserie Angelica in Sebastopol, said she was told that for $300 a month she could rearrange the reviews about her pastry shop so the bad ones would drop to the bottom.

"If you went with them, then you could put your favorite reviews on top," Easley said. "Now that I know that people can pay to switch things around, I'll go to the bottom to read reviews."

But it is not true. Businesses cannot pay to rearrange reviews, according to Yelp's Web site. If Easley had paid the $300 a month, she would not have been able to rearrange the reviews -- it's worth noting she has received only perfect 5-star reviews to date.

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