Trustpilot censors their own Bad Reviews

The Curious Codex

             9 Votes

2024-06-24 Published
2024-06-24 Updated
1192 Words, 6  Minute Read

The Author
GEN UK Blog

By Matt (Virtualisation)

Matt has been with the firm since 2015.

 

Trustpilot, one of the original review websites

Trustpolit has been around since 2009, and was of the original 'review' sites for B2C businesses in the USA, later expanding globally.

As a business owner, having a profile on trustpilot can be an important part of building a community, and that’s exactly why people do it, but there's been some disquiet around trustpilot's transparency and trust.

However, in all fairness, handling fake reviews is a challenge that every review site has to deal with in some way, so 'some' fake reviews are enviable.

Setup a new business on Trustpilot is an easy process, and after you’ve setup your company profile, trustpilot may ask you to review them in a nice email along the lines of...

Thanks for using Trustpilot! It's great to have you on board.

As you know, customer feedback is key to running a successful business. We greatly value our customers' feedback and would love to hear from you.

So, how has your experience with Trustpilot been so far?

That seems fair, so you follow the link and take time out of your busy day to make an honest review of trustpilot, as requested, in the hope that someone will take note and that a review of any kind is valuable.

A few hours later, your inbox will be graced with a thank you email along the lines of...

Your review is now live on Trustpilot! Sharing your experience empowers others to shop with confidence, and helps companies like trustpilot.com to improve.

And you’re provided a link to see your review online. You need not follow it though, because if you’re review wasn’t a five star review, you’ll receive the following email minutes later...

Thanks for writing a review about trustpilot.com on Trustpilot.

As part of our efforts to ensure that our community can trust the reviews they read on Trustpilot, we’re constantly on the lookout for unusual activity. We do this by using customized software, dedicated Content Integrity Agents, or a combination of both.

In this case, your review of trustpilot.com has been flagged because we couldn’t verify its authenticity, and on that basis we’ve removed your review from our platform.

While we’re confident that this is the right call, we appreciate that sometimes we get it wrong. If you think there’s been a mistake here, please do let us know by replying to this email and a member of our Content Integrity Team will review this decision with you.

If you then check online, you find that “This review was removed for breaching Trustpilot’s Guidelines for Reviewers.” For transparency, here’s the review verbatim:

I think its a great site, and for consumer services its a valuable resource, but there are many, so many fake reviews and I do understand how hard it is to stop them. If verification actually worked for older people who don't have photo ID (because we are not forced to have it) then I think many more people would be verified and you would be able to screen much of the spam out.

You really can’t make this stuff up. Trustpilot, asks for reviews, then filters the bad ones out. I’m not sure how that demonstrates credibility. If the company is filtering its own bad reviews, then how can you ‘trust’ trustpilot not to filter any reviews. I'm not saying that this wasn't a 'glitch' or a bad decision by some minimum wage minion, but if the company was serious about its reputation, the one place it wouldn't let the minions loose would be its own reviews.

Commercialisation

It surprised me to learn that trustpilot 'plans' range from £259 right up to £939 per year in advance for various 'enhancements'. I'm not sure how those enhancements work, but you can easily make an assumption that a businesses paying a grand a year would have some leverage over trustpilot and bad reviews, because its a business, and the number one rule of business, is keep your customers happy.

Companies

You may not know this, but if you leave a bad review about a company on trustpilot, they can challenge it, and at that point trustpilot will contact the reviewer and ask THEM to prove that the review is valid, that is, we distrust your review, show us its true. This is quite hard to do unless you happen to keep every receipt from every store, and didn’t buy it online, and didn’t buy it over the phone, and have more time to waste filling in forms. This sort of distrust of reviewers taints the whole platform making fake positive reviews far outweigh the negative ones that make it through without being challenged. No company is ever going to challenge a 'good' review are they? The internet is a wash with reviewers complaining about having their reviews removed unfairly.

Responses

A review should stand alone, its not a customer support system, its a review aggregation site, yet and probably again considering that companies are spending £££ a year with them, trustpilot allow the company to 'reply' to a review, and the content of those replies is pretty much unregulated. You can leave a bad review about the company, and they can then have their 'reply' immediately below your review, highlighted with a blue left margin and a darker background which draws your attention to it, and that's not right. Sure, allow companies to send an email to the customer internally, but don't let them manipulate the reviews with their unverified spew.

Verified

I had wrongly believed that 'verified' reviewers would be considered trustworthy, yet to become ‘verified’ is simply not possible for older people who haven’t yet been forced into having photo-ID or a passport, which are needed for the ‘third party’. Notwithstanding the obvious and glaring privacy issues of sharing an IDENTITY DOCUMENT with some unknown third party, even if you are stupid enough to do it, verified seems to mean absolutely nothing to trustpilot.

A quick search of the internet provides a cascade of complaints, from verified reviewers who have had their reviews were removed for made up reason. Why aren't verified reviewers ‘trusted’ to write reviews? I can’t see the point of verification if it carries no benefit (Except to that unknown third party now in possession of your identity documents).

A far easier way would be to take a one-off charge on a card in the reviewers name at the reviewers address, y’know, like everyone else does.

Trust or Not

Trustpilot is just one of many review sites, with Google now having their own reviews, Facebook of course with likes/comments, Yelp, Foursquare, SiteJabber, Capterra and many more, and I'm not specifically beating up on Trustpilot here, but they were one of the first and should at least try and lead the market in trust.

In such a dynamic industry, they should consider seriously the impact of censoring their own reviews, allowing so many fake reviews, and pandering to the companies that pay them to remove bad reviews, losing trust and driving clicks elsewhere.


             9 Votes

Comments (2)

Ricardo P · 2024-07-10 14:24 UTC
I think trustpilot have a place for consumer stuff, but you are right it is full of fake reviews, and they do let their paying customers sift through bad reviews and have them removed, which is a shame.

Arthur Dent · 2024-07-01 15:48 UTC
I think trustpilot lost its trust a few years ago and will probably never recover. You cant have a review site that lets the companies being reviewed challenge the reviews.

--- This content is not legal or financial advice & Solely the opinions of the author ---


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