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.