Yelp to stop self-creation fundraising after outrage from business owners

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Yelp has suspended an effort in partnership with GoFundMe which has automatically opted for tens of thousands of small businesses in fundraisers after complaints from restaurant and bar owners, the company said. The edge. Yelp launched the initiative earlier this week in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but did so without notifying any of the participants. Some business owners have said that the withdrawal process – in the event that they organize their own fundraisers or simply do not want it to be automatically set up by Yelp – is unnecessarily cumbersome.

“On Tuesday, Yelp announced a partnership with GoFundMe to provide people with a quick and easy way to support their favorite local businesses by donating to a GoFundMe fundraiser directly on the Yelp pages of eligible businesses. In an effort to help businesses quickly and easily, a GoFundMe fundraiser was automatically added to the Yelp pages of a first group of eligible businesses, with information provided on how to claim or opt out if a business chooses to do so, “a spokesperson said in a statement.

“However, it has been brought to our attention that some companies have not received a notification containing unsubscribe instructions, and some would have preferred to actively join the program,” the statement said. “As such, we have suspended automatic deployment of this feature, and we are working with GoFundMe to provide businesses with a transparent way to join the program in the future, as we have received a lot of interest and support for the program of the two. consumers and businesses. ”

Prominent critics of Yelp’s approach include Andy McMillan, organizer of the annual XOXO art and technology festival and owner of the Suckerpunch bar in Portland, and Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Alinea and other businesses based in Chicago. McMillan specifically denounced the process for withdrawing from Yelp, which included providing Yelp with a copy of a personal identity card and an employer identification number. Yelp has since suppressed McMillan’s fundraising.

Kokonas asked Yelp to remove GoFundMe when it noticed the link automatically placed on Alinea’s Yelp page. He said the whole situation was causing unnecessary stress at a time when most business owners are simply trying to survive the current coronavirus locks preventing bars and restaurants from functioning fully.

“If you want to report the worst behavior in the industry – let’s go. It damages our reputation, is done without consent and is done en masse for their own benefit. Unbelievable. I don’t need to deal with this in the midst of a crisis, “said Kokonas in a follow-up tweet directed to the food and restaurant website. Eater. ((The edge and Eater belong to Vox Media.)

Yelp said in its initial GoFundMe partnership announcement that it would waive the fees and that the two companies would match the first million dollars donated. However, critics of the partnership quickly discovered that GoFundMe set the recommended tip, that is, how GoFundMe finances its own operations, at 15%.

“Yelp does not receive any part of the donations. Donations through the GoFundMe platform may be subject to payment processing fees in some cases under the terms of the GoFundMe platform, ”reads a FAQ page for the program.

Others, like XOXO festival co-founder Andy Baio (who is a friend of McMillan’s), noted that Yelp’s insistence that it would only organize fundraisers for small businesses under five locations n was not entirely true. Baio began to find and publish GoFundMe pages for large companies, such as the French multi-billion dollar cosmetics company L’Occitane.



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