Yelp Faces Class Claims Over Recorded Customer Phone Calls

Joseph Kasouf, J.D., M.S. | General Counsel

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On March 2, 2017, lead plaintiff David Schram of Los Angeles, California, filed a punitive class action suit against Yelp Inc. alleging the company violated California Penal Code 632. Schram claims that the popular virtual review service illegally recorded his calls to the company’s financial department. Neither customer service representatives nor automated advisory services informed Schram at the time that the conversations in question would be recorded.

The suit contends that by illegally recording customer phone calls, Yelp is in direct violation of California Penal Code 632, which prohibits one party of a phone call from intentionally recording the conversation without the other party’s consent. Schram was only made cognizant of the recordings when a customer service representative informed him that all collection and sales calls were logged after he had made numerous calls of the sort.

Questions to be answered in court will pertain to a potential behavior pattern, such as whether Yelp has a policy of secretly recording outgoing calls. The plaintif argues that, “It is the defendant’s pattern and practice to record inbound and outbound calls made in California and throughout the United States without informing the individuals that the confidential communications are being recorded.”

As of early March 2017, the total number of potential class members remains to be seen. Schram believes the figure will be in the tens of thousands. However, due to the nature of the suit, those thousands of potential plaintiffs remain ignorant of said violations. The plaintiff is seeking punitive and statutory damages that may amount to $5,000 per violation and fines of up to $2,500 per violation.

This case is: David Schram et al v. Yelp Inc., case number BC652472, in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles.

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