Armenian Cab Drivers in Los Angeles Get No Help From Yelp

Liana Aghajanian, editor in chief of Los Angeles online magazine Ianyan, has a long and rather interesting look at an ordinance passed this week in Santa Monica. It is very bad news for the city’s Armenian community, because among the eight taxi cab firms prevented from doing further business within city limits starting January, 2011 are a half-dozen owned and-or operated by Amernian-American families. In fact, not one such firm made it past a five-member committee’s criteria.

There was a protest rally last night, and suspicions of racism have been articulated very delicately by an attorney associated with the barred taxicab companies. Aghajanian also hints at the contextual role that may have been played by poor customer reviews posted to websites such as Yelp!

Writes Aghajanian:

“If you like your life and your money, never ever ride with this cab company!” wrote a user named Mark Q. on Yelp! about V.I.P Yellow Cab. The commenter alleges that the driver overcharged him, refused to listen when told he was going the wrong way and illegally drove them to the LA Colosseum, as he wasn’t permitted to operate in the Los Angeles area.

In response this spring to charges that the removal of poor reviews on Yelp! was being brokered for money, the site instituted a second tier of “Filtered” reviews, rather than simply deleting them.

(Photo courtesy of