Yelp has paused an effort in partnership with GoFundMe that automatically turned to tens of thousands of small businesses to raise funds after complaints from restaurant and bar owners, according to the company. The edge. Yelp launched the initiative earlier this week in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it did so without informing any of the participants. Some business owners said the opt-out process (in case they were hosting their own fundraising events or just didn't want one to be automatically set up by Yelp) was unnecessarily cumbersome.
“On Tuesday, Yelp announced a partnership with GoFundMe to provide a quick and easy way for people to support their favorite local businesses by donating to a GoFundMe fundraiser directly on Yelp's pages of eligible businesses. In an effort to get help from companies quickly and easily, a GoFundMe fundraiser was automatically added to the Yelp pages of an initial group of eligible companies, with provided information on how to claim or reject it if a company decides to do so. "The spokesman said in a statement.
"However, it has come to our attention that some companies did not receive a notification with exclusion instructions, and some would have preferred to actively participate in the program," the statement continues. As such, we have paused the automatic rollout of this feature, and are working with GoFundMe to provide a seamless way for companies to opt-in to the program in the future as we have received a lot of interest and support from the program. Consumers and companies alike. "
Some prominent critics of Yelp's approach included 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 the Alinea restaurant and other Chicago-based companies. McMillan specifically mentioned Yelp's opt-out process, which included providing it with a copy of a personal identification card and an employer identification number.
Hears @gofundmeCan you close this page please? https://t.co/bP97PeRMcS It was created by Yelp without my consent. I'm not comfortable giving you a scan of my ID, and I don't have an EIN, so I can't fill out the form myself.
– Andy McMillan (@andymcmillan) March 26, 2020
Kokonas required Yelp to withdraw GoFundMe when it noted that the link is automatically placed on the Yelp page for Alinea. He said the entire situation was causing unnecessary stress at a time when most business owners are simply trying to survive current coronavirus-related blockages that prevent bars and restaurants from fully functioning.
“If you want to report the worst behavior in the industry, here you go. This damages our reputation, is done without consent, and is being done en masse for your own benefit. Incredible. I don't need to deal with this in the midst of a crisis, "Kokonas said in a follow-up tweet to the food and restaurant website. Diner. (The edge Y Diner both are owned by Vox Media).
It is inordinate of you to create a page for my restaurants trying to take advantage of this crisis for their companies under the pretext of "helping,quot;.
Immediately remove all properties from the Alinea Group. I hope someone will sue you … I could do it once I have time. pic.twitter.com/0xfCK6OnG3
– nick kokonas (@nickkokonas) March 26, 2020
Yelp said in its original GoFundMe partnership announcement that it would waive fees and that both companies would match the first $ 1 million donated. However, critics of the association quickly discovered that GoFundMe was setting the recommended tip, which is how GoFundMe finances its own operations, at 15 percent.
“Yelp does not receive any portion 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, such as XOXO festival co-founder Andy Baio (who is a friend of McMillan), noted that Yelp's insistence that it would only set up fundraising events for small businesses with fewer than five locations was not entirely true. Baio began to find and advertise GoFundMe pages for large companies, such as the French billionaire cosmetics company L’Occitane.