CHOICE membership

Google reviews

CHOICE is looking into the issue of businesses offering to pay customers to have negative reviews removed from Google reviews and other platforms - or offering customers incentives to post positive reviews. Has this ever happened to you or someone you know?

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Operating a business, we sometimes get spam type emails indicating that the sender can organise positive reviews on social media and review websites…for a fee. We delete them as soon as we get them. It comes from senders like this one or this one.

The next time we get one, I’ll post it here for you to see what is ‘on offer’.

I imagine that using these ‘services’ might be tempting for businesses with poor reputations, and the reputation is impacting on the business. I have seen product reviews, some identified by members in the community, where after a negative review there is a quick flurry of very positive reviews. Coincidential - possibly not after looking at reviews over a longer period and long term frequency of posted reviews.

We have approached Google to have a positive review removed as it wasn’t a customer of ours and the review wording didn’t represent the nature of our business (it appeared the review was made in error). Google evaluated the review and didn’t remove it as it didn’t contravene their review posting policy. :man_shrugging:

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I recently bought a new car. The dealer was very keen for us to provide a five star review on Google when we picked the car up. The strategy is working as most of the many reviews on Google are five stars. The dealer was pleasant enough and low pressure. We paid list price and waited only (!) four months for delivery. However we didn’t provide a review as they failed to install nearly $2000 worth of accessories on delivery and the settlement experience was rushed - they were delivering about 30 cars that day and presented me with prefilled paperwork including a tick-a-box to the effect that all the accessories were installed. They did come good with the accessories but it took a month, the excuse being they were on back order. We think they just stuffed up.

Interesting how the subtle pressure for five stars still inflates their rankings. I would have ranked them three stars (good service generally but stuff ups marred delivery) but this would be contrary to the five star request.

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Wouldn’t this just encourage more people to post negative reviews in the hope to be paid to remove them?

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No, I haven’t but I’m often suspicious of some reviews that are supposedly “genuine customers”. This move - if true - by Google, is very concerning. Good luck in tracking it down and I’d certainly support any action you need to take to prevent it from happening. Good for you.