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Trustpilot reveals how its ‘star rating’ system really works for agents

Reviews website tells The Advertising Standards Authority that newer reviews are given more weight than older ones.

Nigel Lewis

trustpilot

It has been revealed that estate agents who use Trustpilot to promote their businesses can ‘game’ the platform because the reviews company gives newer customer reviews greater weight when awarding an overall ‘out of five’ score.

The policy has been revealed by the Advertising Standards Authority during its investigation into the new eMoov, which has been using links to its Trustpilot page to promote the business.

Out of the 2,179 reviews on its Trustpilot page, only 80 have come from clients dealt with by the new incarnation of the online agent, while the rest were generated while it was operated by eMoov Ltd, which is currently in administration.

The ASA has told a complainant about the use of old reviews that it has held ‘detailed talks’ with both Trustpilot and the agency.

Aggregate score

During these talks over the past six weeks, the ASA was told that the overall aggregate score award by Trustpilot was influenced unduly by the most recent reviews, rather than older ones.

”We are therefore satisfied that there is not a source of concern here at the moment and so we are not investigating this further,” the ASA has said.

But the complainant, Andrew Stanton, has claimed that the promotion of older Trustpilot reviews on eMoov’s recently-redesigned website could be misleading, and says he is not satisfied by the ASA’s reply.

Stanton has told The Negotiator that he considers the ASA to have backtracked on its original ruling, and that he will be taking the matter further with the organisation.

Read more about Trustpilot.

January 8, 2020

4 comments

  1. Trustpilot was not approached for comment on the above article, so please find a comment from us here:

    The headline states there is some kind of revelation about how the TrustScore is calculated. It also implicitly suggests that we are trying to hide something about how Trustpilot works, which is absolutely not the case. Please find publically available information about how the TrustScore works here: https://support.trustpilot.com/hc/en-us/articles/201748946-TrustScore-explained-How-is-the-TrustScore-calculated- This information includes a specific section on “Timespan” of reviews posted.

    We have been fully cooperative with the ASA investigation into this matter.

    @Robin Bruce – thanks for your comment. To clarify, any business can use Trustpilot to invite, respond and report reviews for free and the majority do. Some businesses pay for further automation of their invites and also use our Review Insights tool, which provides instant insight into what people are saying about their service and to help them improve it.

    • Hi there Dave and thanks for comments. I have tried to contact Trustpilot in the past but have not received a response but more than happy to chase comment going forward if someone sends me an email at nigel@theneogotiator.co.uk. The article was written to update our readers about the ongoing case and how it has shed some light on how review sites like yours work, information which the ASA thought important enough to pass on to the complainant involved. The article was also about that case specifically but also its potential wider meaning for those who use your service, both those reading the reviews and agents who use your platform. Hopefully agents will find your link useful too!

    • @Dave Robertson. It’s good to see you on here; perhaps you might address the point made in this article and my comment, specifically: why are Trustpilot allowing a new business (in all but name) to market itself on the basis of reviews of a now-defunct business?

  2. If anyone needed proof that consumers shouldn’t trust Trustpilot, here it is. Allowing reviews garnered by a defunct business to be used to promote a new one? There’s bending over backwards and then there’s acting in the interests of the paying business.

    On top of this there is the nature of what looks like Trustpilot’s pitch to businesses: you’ve got some negative reviews on our site (and a poor score as a result)? Don’t worry, join (and pay) and then your new reviews will soon dilute them (and boost the score you will undoubtedly be using in all your marketing).

    The serious question any business should be asking itself is ‘why should we be using any reviews solution other than Google?’ Consumers trust Google reviews, consumers always see Google reviews – in every search they make – so businesses should stick with Google (plus it’s free!). And consumers would do well to ask themselves why any business using an alternative review solution has chosen to do so.

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