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TrustPilot changes its reviews policy following BBC investigation

Senior manager at website reveals negative reviews of agents will now be kept up while they're investigated and only taken down if proved to be fake.

Nigel Lewis

Online reviews site Trustpilot has changed the way it handles ‘suspicious’ reviews to prevent companies ‘gaming’ its system, saying the current way it worked “was not a great experience” for consumers who posted negative comments about companies such as Purplebricks.

TripAdvisor’s announcement was made on Adrian Goldberg’s BBC Radio 5 live programme yesterday morning during which he investigated the “rampant” use of both fake positive reviews and ‘gaming’ of the system by some businesses looking to bury negative reviews.

The importance of reviews in today’s crowded property market was underlined by the programme, which said 93% of buying decisions made by consumers were influenced by review websites such as Trustpilot.

Goldberg interviewed Trustpilot’s Senior Vice President Glenn Manoff (pictured, left), during which he was brought face-to-face with former Purplebricks sales customer Laura Emmerson who recounted her experience of posting a negative review about the company on Trustpilot.

Laura, whose case The Negotiator has reported on before, gave Purplebricks a two-star review after her flat failed to either sell or attract many viewings, a review that was then removed by Trustpilot after Purplebricks flagged it as ‘suspicious’.

Laura (pictured, right) then proved she was a real customer, but the review took three days to be reinstated, by which time it had been ‘buried’ by lots of positive reviews.

In response to this Manoff revealed during the show that reviews by agent’s customers believed to be suspicious would now not be taken down while they were investigated.

Goldberg also looked at the wider reviews industry where it found evidence of easily-sourced paid-for reviews within closed Facebook groups, and Indian review farms.

Trustpilot says the problem of fake reviews is very small and that out of the million reviews it receives every month, only 20,000 are removed.

It also says that if companies flag up too many fake reviews as suspicious or appear to be gaming the system in other ways, Trustpilot reaches out to companies to warn them about their activities and, if they continue, can delete their accounts.

Listen to the Radio5Live show in full.

April 30, 2018

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