The dangers of Yelp

Sima Tamaddon

Sima Tamaddon studied business at University of Virginia, worked as an investment banker in New York and then moved back to Alexandria t follow her dream of opening an exercise studio.

Cycle Studio opened its doors in April.

“I was an amazing feeling,” Tamaddon says.

At first, it got amazing reviews on Yelp. But in July, one specific posting caught her eye. Someone had posted harsh, untrue and slanderous things about her, she says.

So she wrote to Yelp. Six days later, it took down the posting and she thought it was over.

"No sooner than they took it down, the same person with the same ID wrote again,” she says. “Except this time she got more inflammatory. It was like she was feeding off of this -- it was a game to her."

Every time Yelp would take it down, usually several days after it was posted, the person would write again. She eventually wrote about Tamaddon’s 4-year-old daughter.

That’s when she said enough is enough. Tamaddon hired an attorney and filed an official complaint with the Alexandria Police Department hoping that someone will track down the cyber-bully and help her track down an actual person at Yelp too.

And she’s not alone. From coast to coast, business owners say Yelp is ruining their business. There’s even a web site called “Yelp Hate” where people say Yelp’s format allows people to bash their business with no recourse, leaving them helpless and defenseless with no actual person at Yelp to appeal to.

Tamaddon agrees. She’s now just waiting for her cyber-bully to strike again and is hoping someone out there can help.

“I do feel personally threatened,” she said. “As a mom and as a business owner. And in my opinion, I'm not willing to back down from it."