As if restaurants needed another reason to complain about Yelp, the company is once in hot water after being called out by the restaurant community after they launched a series of relief funds in partnership with GoFundMe without permission from the restaurants they were raising funds for.
However well-meaning the intention of the fundraising programme is, Yelp and GoFundMe announced plans to match $1 million of the donations generated and Intuit Quickbooks also pledged $500,000, restaurateurs were not consulted about their inclusion in the scheme.
Of course, Yelp’s whole profitability depends on there being a thriving restaurant eco-system upon which to feed, so while the charity initiative may be dressed up as altruistic, it serves their interests also.
Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Chicago’s Alinea restaurant group, said he was “beyond angry” to find a Yelp-linked GoFundMe for one of his businesses, St. Clair Supper Club.
“Our customers think that we are asking for charity for our workers. We are not. We are working hard to provide for them by selling food-to-go, and will participate in the government programs being crafted for hospitality workers.”
“I truly cannot believe that Yelp and GoFundMe thought this was a good idea,” Kokonas says. “It’s the worst kind of fake stewardship in a crisis, crafted to look like charity but really taking advantage of a horrific situation.”
Yelp is not the only restaurant tech platform to come under criticism with this type of unilateral action. Grubhub recently came under criticism for a ‘growth hack’ which created pages for restaurants on its platform without their permission.