We have located approximately 2,046 responsive complaints.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revealed that it has received over 2000 complaints about Yelp since 2008, and that Yelp receives about six subpoenas a month, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Wall Street Journal journalist Angus Loten. As Yelp stock tumbled by as much as 12%, the law firm of Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman is looking into the possibility of a Yelp shareholder lawsuit.
In response to his FOIA request, the FCC wrote to Angus Loten, saying:
Wall Street Journal
1211 Ave. of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Re: FOIA-2014-00610 Yelp, Inc.
Dear Mr. Loten:
This is in response to your request dated March 4, 2014, under the Freedom of Information Act seeking access to consumer complaints filed against Yelp since October 2004. In accordance with the FOIA and agency policy, we have searched our records, as of March 4, 2014, the date we received your request in our FOIA office. Because the FTC’s complaint database maintains records for five years, we have not located any complaints filed prior to 2008.
We have located approximately 2,046 responsive complaints. I am granting partial access to, and am enclosing copies of, the accessible records. Three complaints, and portions of other complaints, are subject to two of the nine exemptions to the FOIA’s disclosure requirements, as explained below.
We are withholding nine complaints under FOIA Exemption 3, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3), because they are exempt from disclosure by another statute; specifically, Section 21(f) of the FTC Act provides that the FTC may not disclose any material reflecting a consumer complaint obtained from a foreign source if that foreign source has requested confidential treatment. 15 U.S.C.§ 57b-2(f).
Enclosed are 2,037 responsive complaints that consumers have sent to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). You should know that the enclosed complaints have not necessarily been verified by the FTC. Therefore, you should make your own judgment about relying on the information provided. I am denying access to consumers’ names and addresses, and any other identifying information found in the complaints. This information is exempt from release under FOIA Exemption 6, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(6), because individuals’ right to privacy outweighs the general public’s interest in seeing personal identifying information. See The Lakin Law Firm v. FTC, 352 F.3d 1122 (7th Cir. 2003).
If you are not satisfied with this response to your request, you may appeal by writing to Freedom of Information Act Appeal, Office of the General Counsel, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20580, within 30 days of the date of this letter. Please enclose a copy of your original request and a copy of this response. If you believe that we should choose to disclose additional materials beyond what the FOIA requires, please explain why this would be in the public interest.
Of course, whenever something like this breaks, litigation is sure to follow. The very next day, the law firm of Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman announced their “Investigation of Yelp”, advising people that if they are aware of any relevant facts, or own shares of Yelp stock, they can “assist this investigation by contacting either Peretz Bronstein or his Investor Relations Coordinator Eitan Kimelman of Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman, LLC at 212-697-6484 or via email email@example.com. Those who inquire by e-mail are encouraged to include their mailing address and telephone number.”
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