Well this is a weird one. Apparently someone is threatening to harm Yelp customers who post negative reviews of a San Francisco-based plumbing company. When the plumbing company owner was presented with the latest threat, he denied having anything to do with it and alleged it to be just another part of a long-running smear campaign attempting to ruin his business.

The most recent apparent case of threats/Yelp-bullying, reports SF Weekly, occurred after a woman named Meghan left a negative review of Ace Plumbing and Rooter. The paper notes that she shortly thereafter received a concerning message from another Yelp user.

"Listen to me...you got 24 hours to remove the review against Ace Plumbing and Rooter or you'll regret...," the message began. "[We] have your information..the last person who posted a bad review against the company ending up finding himself in trouble...Be careful...karma could bite you and you could face the same fate..."

The woman who received the message was rightly concerned, and posted about the threat online, which resulted in an onslaught of negative reviews directed at Ace.

This was not the first time that a Yelp user had threatened other Yelpers regarding reviews of Ace Plumbing and Rooter. Last Thursday another patron of Ace wrote of a similar threat.

"Listen to me, I am going to give you 2 options, either you remove your stupid review against Ace Plumbing and Rooter or I will report your review and Yelp will close your account," reads the message. "Since we advertise on Yelp I am sure they will remove your review because they will not want to lose a customer [...]

"By the way, we advertise with Yelp so all it takes is a phone call and they will get us your ip. We can find out who you are and we can pay you back..."

The owner of Ace Plumbing and Rooter, Jonathan Millington, told SF Weekly that this has been going on for years and that he has nothing to do with it.

“There’s some crazy person out there who has nothing better to do than reach out to my customers and try to make a bad name for my company," says Millington. "If I get a negative Yelp review, then he’ll message that person and say, 'If you don’t remove that I’ll cause you trouble,' or something along those lines. Then we get a bunch of reviews based on that."

Which, maybe?

In a situation like this, it's hard to tell if someone really has it out for Millington or if he's quickly doing damage control in a world accustomed to bizarre internet trolls.

Either way, it's one hell of a shit show, and it highlights some of the problems inherent with a platform like Yelp where you never really know who anyone is. If only there was a good way to find somebody reliable to clean up this mess.

All previous coverage of Yelp on SFist.