One in every eight estate agency reviews is a fake

One in every eight reviews submitted to a new agency review site is a fake.

According to raterAgent, 12.5% of the reviews that are submitted to its website are written by agents themselves or their representatives.

They are either reviewing themselves very positively, or giving the lowest possible rating to a competitor.

CEO Mal McCallion said that all the suspect reviews were challenged before being put up on the site and the authors asked to submit further evidence to raterAgent, for them to establish that they had received a genuine service from the agent they were reviewing.

None of them did so, and their reviews were never published.

He said: “We have an absolute zero-tolerance strategy when it comes to fake reviews.

“RaterAgent stands for trust and simplicity and we want everyone coming to the site – agent or their potential clients – to know that the reviews which they read on there are genuine ones.”

He said raterAgent “goes deep in trying to uncover fake reviews, where an agent either reviews themselves, generally as 5-star agents, or reviews a competitor, usually with 1 star”.

McCallon said: “We use a variety of methods to weed out fakes.

“Whilst I obviously can’t reveal the exact steps that we take, we use cutting-edge theory and systems, including sentiment analysis, to assess each word in each rating.

“Every single review is also manually checked by one of our trained moderators, who take it very personally indeed when they discover anyone trying to ‘game’ the system.

“Repeat offenders go on to our ‘usual suspects’ wall and will be named and shamed if they continue to try and engage in reputation forgery.”

McCallion added: “We’re trying to clean up review websites, to enable trust to flourish.

“We know that the vast majority of agents are looking for somewhere to showcase their quality of service.

“The benefits are clear: independently verified testimonials that can be used in marketing, justification of fee levels due to success, increased instructions, and the overall improvement of the quality of service that the industry provides.

“We know that consumers are looking for this independent and verified information too. Whilst we will never claim to be perfect, no site out there puts more effort into discovering and filtering fake reviews than we do.

“If one in every eight reviews submitted to us are fakes – and the authors are warned and can face sanctions for repeated attempts – I dread to think what percentage are false on sites which do not take our robust approach.

“Presumably fakers are free to continue to write as many bogus testimonials as they like, which must actually encourage them to place a far higher percentage of fake reviews – about themselves and their competitors – on these sites.”

RaterAgent launched in January, with the aim of challenging the dominance of allAgents.

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13 Comments

  1. Gump

    No one actually thought any review anywhere was legit did they?!

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  2. livingproperty

    It’s disheartening that agents feel the need to do this. If their service was actually top rate, they wouldn’t need to. It really does discredit those who work hard for great feedback from clients.

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  3. Jonnie

    Funny, the all seemed so legit, meanwhile in other news bears do their business in the woods. – Jonnie

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  4. Woodentop

    Lets be frank about this, review companies and ethos all came about because of the web, looks good on paper, great idea but as everything in life has a double side to it. Is any one really surprised by this story? Any business that considers these review sites as a good idea to be listed on, need to seriously contemplate the negative side, the misuse and damage they can cause you. The motto is, don’t put your hand into a fire, you may not get burnt, you will get burnt.

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    1. Mal

      Hi Woodentop, Mal of raterAgent here.
      Review sites are essentially an extension of people’s recommendations that they might make over the garden fence or in the pub. The difference is that a. all your future clients can see it and b. you can see it. These conversations would be happening anyway and your business suffering or benefiting from those warnings/recommendations.
      People will never stop talking about their experiences and those exchanges will never stop shaping the next person’s decision-making. And there’s no way that the internet is not going to be a focus of these reviews in the future. The question here is – do you engage and try and benefit from this or do you not, and hope that the 1-star conversation hidden away in some corner of the internet never strikes?
      At raterAgent you can be sure that we’re working hard to stop fake review conversations. If you’re good, your clients will tell your next clients that. If you’re not, likewise. People will review you on Twitter, Google, Facebook and you’ve got to monitor them all whilst having no knowledge whatsoever as to whether that is genuine conversation or not. Here, you have.
       
      Obviously I’d encourage you to engage and to use a site that is committed to showing genuine quality of service, rather than chancing it. Your clients are already having review conversations about you, whether in a café or online. My recommendation would be to make sure you’ve got a settled strategy for dealing with them – review conversations aren’t going away. It’s what humans do.

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      1. smile please

        Mal,

        People do not go online to leave good reviews. They go online to moan about service.

        I don’t believe for 1 minute that 1 in 8 are fake, i would suspect it to be more like 1 in 8 are true.

        Strange how certain companies have about 150 reviews all positive in a town where all the other agents in town might have 20 between them.

        I think it was RealAgent that highlighted Purplebricks actually putting the template up and forgetting to change *Add Name Here *

        Stop leaching of our work and produce something worth while.

        As you can see from this REVIEW  site, Not many of us rate raterAgent …

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        1. Mal

          Hi smile please, thanks for the reply. I think that the likes of TripAdvisor, Amazon, LateRooms, Uber, Google, IMDb,  and literally thousands of other sites across the world give the lie to your very generic statement that ‘people don’t go online to leave good reviews.’ You may not – and you aren’t again here! – but hundreds of thousands of people do. Just positive, helpful people, perhaps?!
          Listen, raterAgent is here to change the way that reviews are seen in our industry and I totally get that you are super-cynical about that. But we will, and I hope that you’ll be (probably quietly!) pleased when we have, and your quality of service is out there helping to justify your higher fees over those less good than you.
          Until then we’ll continue to crack on in the face of the (current) 4 negative comments here. This article has been read 1,367 times up to now, though – and I know how many hundreds of agents have signed up with raterAgent in the space of a few weeks too – so perhaps not everyone agrees with you that verified, positive reviews of great service ought to be a source of suspicion rather than a cause for celebration?

          We’ll never be complacent or arrogant – there is so, so much to do – but we’re determined to get it done regardless of the negativity that other review sites might have generated ahead of us. And I hope that’s why you might choose to join us in the end. Though I accept you’ll probably need a +bit+ more convincing along the way 🙂

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          1. smile please

            Well Mal,

            Difference is the sites you mention have repeat business and contributors, Yours is a one off review.

            Also the hoops you need to jump through to register and post will put people off posting as just too cumbersome and time consuming.

            As for the negative reviews from this site if you were an agent you would have zero stars …… Ponder on that 😉

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  5. MKM1979

    Lets be honest. Do you have clients that post reviews? I have found that even when people (talking genuine member of the public who has used the services of whatever agent) have a real axe to grind with some agents they really cannot be bothered to sit down and write about it, any more than they can if they have had the best possible service of any agent ever, why? People just cannot be bothered to find the time any more. We give out Feedback forms, genuinely wanting the feedback and don’t get half of these back as it is!

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    1. Mal

      Hi MKM1979, Mal of raterAgent here. I don’t know that a lot of people fill out and return forms for anything these days. It’s far more of an immediate thing online, where if you have a link to a page on a site that you can put into your email signature or website, inviting responses that do work a lot better. It does seem a little sad when people view picking up a pen and writing as being an inefficient use of their time but I think that’s where we are now!

      You can use these links for free if you like – http://www.rateragent.co.uk/easy-rate-links – link them through to your page on raterAgent and see if any more people decide to leave reviews for you?

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  6. marcH

    Well known fact that moaners moan and lousy agents cheat. How else does a certain agent come near the top of the pile on Allagents – a total farce if ever I saw one. Mr whiter-than-white rateragent doesn’t fool anyone with his sanctimonious blatherings.  As agents we try to offer the best possible service to all our customers but unfortunately nobody can please all of their customers all of the time. As someone ahead of me said: get out there and do something useful.

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  7. undercover agent

    This is what Facebook is for… It’s quick (just “like” my page) there is no dislike button! And you can reply to the comments (always better than deleting them) people post positive comments all the time… And customers can see the comment is from a real person with a real profile and not the mother of the business owner. Plus FB is free! Google review is free and maybe aids SEO? What more do you need? Firms that claim to specialise in agent rateing might be running the old scam of posting bad reviews about an agent and then charging the agent a membership fee to reply to the negative comment (oldest trick in the book) ;-p

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    1. smile please

      Google + helps SEO BIG TIME! – latest leaked seo rating from google shows that they want verified content that shows authority and is a industry expert. In other words push google plus reviews! – And its much harder to con google plus as you need to go through a right old rigmarole signing up!

      Report
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