September 23, 2020

Yelp is screwing over restaurants by replacing their phone numbers on listings and routing customers’ calls thru a referral marketing business.

From Vice

Yelp is replacing phone numbers on restaurant’s listings. When Yelp’s users call, their calls are rerouted through Grubhub, a marketing service taking a referral fee of 15-20% on the ordered placed. (Separately from the Yelp issue, Grubhub is also buying domain names and building restaurant’s websites in their own name to get orders and take a cut on payments1.)

From a restaurant owner:

Martino, the owner of Ghost Truck Kitchen, complained to Grubhub about his erroneous phone charges. The company agreed to stop charging him for phone commissions unless a call was over 800 seconds, which is great,” he said, but also makes you think they know they’re doing something wrong.”

Martino gets about 50 percent of his sales through Grubhub. However, he’s hoping to get that percentage down. He now takes orders online himself through his website and encourages customers to order there or through his direct phone number.

Don’t rely on platforms to get traffic, whether it is a Facebook page, Amazon, Medium, Substack or any other platform. They might change their policy, deceitfully or not, at any time, and screw you. Sure, platforms have built large streams of traffic — and you can tap into their traffic if you enter their walled gardens (and work for free2). Do it at your own risk, or own your work by:

  • Buying your own domain name
  • Creating content under your own domain, not on someone else’s platform e.g. Medium; Try Ghost, Blot, Hugo
  • Hosting your own newsletter tool (avoid Substack, they don’t allow you to host under your own domain name); try Buttondown, Ghost
  • Using RSS to send notifications to your audience (how to use RSS)


  2. article coming soon↩︎

marketing small business

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