Trustpilot looking into reviews of estate agents ‘at large’ as it condemns new claims by allAgents

Reviews site Trustpilot has revealed that it is conducting an investigation into the estate agent sector “at large”.

It would not be drawn into the nature of the investigation, but yesterday also revealed that discussions with Purplebricks have concluded.

Trustpilot told us that an approach to inviting reviews, which is in line with Trustpilot’s guidelines, has been agreed.

Discussions started last autumn after publication Wired ran a highly critical story under the headline: “Are Purplebricks’ Trustpilot reviews too good to be true?”

The revelations from Trustpilot have come after EYE asked about allegations made this week by allAgents that 70% of reviews on Trustpilot could be fake. Trustpilot has condemned this, and other allAgent allegations, as unfounded and incorrect.

allAgents has based its claims on reviews posted about allAgents itself on Trustpilot.

Martin McKenzie of allAgents said that 42 reviews were reported and 31 eventually removed.

McKenzie said: “This equates to an astonishing 70% of the reviews that were dubious, possibly bogus. Of course no reviews site can stop them entirely, but from our industry experience they should definitely be no more than 15% for any individual company’s profile.

“If this level of suspect reviews is replicated, that would mean 70% of their reviews could be bogus.”

allAgents were involved in a long-running dispute with Purplebricks over negative reviews posted on its site.

By contrast, Purplebricks has always enjoyed high ratings on Trustpilot.

In this week’s attack, allAgents claims that its own negative reviews on Trustpilot were only taken down after it threatened legal action.

McKenzie claimed that Trustpilot “ignored our repeated requests to investigate” the reviews.

He added: “It was a matter of hours before our deadline for legal action to take place, that Trustpilot contacted our lawyers and removed the negative reviews and put them into their investigation process.”

However, yesterday afternoon a Trustpilot spokesperson told EYE: “These are unfounded and incorrect allegations by another review site, that we are currently in litigation with.

“We do not want to be drawn into a public discussion about that at this time, but we would like to provide more understanding of how our platform works.

“Trustpilot has not removed 70% of the reviews of allAgents for being ‘dubious’ or fake and the suggestion that 70% of reviews across our whole platform are likely to be false is simply wrong.

“Any business can flag a review on Trustpilot if they think it breaches our guidelines – one example being it contains coarse unacceptable language.

“All flagging behaviour of companies can now be seen on every Trustpilot company profile.

“You can see here, that of the 42 reviews reported by allAgents 11 have been put back online and 31 have currently been removed from the platform.

“You can also see that reviewers have not come back with a response, or updated their review to bring them in line with our guidelines.

“However, this absolutely does not mean that these reviews are ‘dubious’ or fake and if a reviewer were to come back to us at a later stage and ensure the review complies with our guidelines their review would be placed back online.”

The spokesperson added: “We are committed to being the most transparent reviews platform and in addition to being able to see information about how companies flag their reviews we also recently launched our new Transparent Inviting feature, which shows how businesses are inviting and receiving their reviews.”

Another claim made by allAgents is that Trustpilot has approached it twice about a possible partnership.

McKenzie said: “We declined as we simply could not trust the authenticity of their reviews – if those about allAgents were anything to go by.”

Trustpilot told EYE: “We’re always looking at potential opportunities to work with partners that may help to provide a better experience for anyone using Trustpilot.

“As you would imagine, conversations take place with potential partners all the time and we would never comment on such conversations unless there is something more official to announce.”

Purplebricks denies claims that it manipulates Trustpilot reviews to get positive feedback

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19 Comments

  1. GeorgeOrwell

    If it smells like s??te, it usually is s??te
     
    Remembering that PB Canadian review debacle where PB memo’d it’s own staff to encourage fake reviews
     
    It’s a huge can of purple worms      

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  2. TwitterSalisPropNews

    The Government MUST regulate such websites, and ASAP. Fake reviews damage industry in the UK.

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    1. Woodentop

      Spot on, it amounts to wild west of fraud and manipulating/deceiving the consumer.

       

      We now live in a world of consumer protection … but not Review sites which can have immense impact on companies.

       

      Review sites must be made to prove that all reviews are genuine and suffer the consequences for promoting false and misleading reviews as all other industry sectors have to comply with.

       

      If they cannot guarantee reviews are genuine ….. SHOULD BE BANNED.

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      1. Malcolm Egerton

        It’s not just the sites that need to clean up their act, its the businesses that use them too. The first question to any business should be ‘Why do you use [pay] Trustpilot/Feefo when Google reviews are free?’.
         
        If you want a great example of the Google/Trustpilot divide just look at Purblebricks’ reviews on Google – they’re shockers.

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  3. comment75

    It is well known that Trustpilot reviews were dodgy. They have been on watchdog and many other places trying to defend themselves.

    i personally think they don’t care if the reviews are fake as long as they get content on their site.

     

    unfortunately the unsuspecting customer out there are not aware of  how they work and how they make their money. They just assume its the same way as trip advisor

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  4. smile please

    Two review sites mud slinging.

    *Insert Gif of Michael Jackson eating popcorn*

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  5. Puddleofshit

    With PB the reviews are not fake. They are just selectively requested. By this I mean LPEs will ask for a review once the property has just gone live. Brand new shiny advert on Rightmove – what’s not to like. The review will be positive.

    They will also ask at the point the sale is agreed if the process hasn’t taken too long and the experience has been good. Again, the vendor is happy and the review will be positive.

    Where they won’t ask for a review is usually after the Post Sales experience. The chain dragging on for months etc.

    If there are any 1 or 2 star reviews the so called Customer Experience department will shirk any responsibility in actually speaking to the unhappy customer to see how they can do things better. They will email the Territory Owner of the LPE who has received the bad review requesting they call the customer to get them to improve the rating.

     

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      I’m sure you are right – ‘selectively requested’ – and there have been plenty of comments from LPEs to corroborate that (as well as the timing of the invitation). Both practices are illegal BTW.

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      1. PeeBee

        Puddle…
         
        “With PB the reviews are not fake.”
         
        I would suggest there is more than a smidgen of evidence to the contrary.
         
        Have a look here for starters:
         
        propertyindustryeye.com/forums/topic/as-seen-on-twitter/

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  6. Herb

    Many reviews left on Allagents, Feeefo and Trustpilot are manipulated and untrue. Happy clients are asked, unhappy are not asked. Bad reviews are asked for tons of proof to back up their review or the review will have to be removed.

     

     

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  7. Long841

    Reviews have been manipulated since the dawn of time, it’s very difficult to stop it happening and it does tarnish the industry as a whole. Trust is such a huge issue in the process, perhaps more so now than ever before with online offerings in all walks of life. Buying goods and/or services from an unknown entity is more common place now than ever before. Consumers really do need to be more savvy as (some) companies have become more adapt at manipulating the image they present to the public even when it isn’t backed up with service. If you just take a look at the comments on almost all of Purple Bricks social media posts you can see clearly that the Trust Pilot reviews don’t tell the whole story. I’m not going bash PB too much though as they certainly weren’t the first company to massage reviews and customer feedback and I’m sure they won’t be the last. Review sites can try and clean up the act but we all know whatever systems they put in place will be circumvented at some point by some unscrupulous business. Advice for potential clients should be to check a number of sources and not rely on any one individual review site.

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      The bottom line is that manipulating reviews (inviting only selected customers and controlling the timing of the review) is illegal. It’s high time the CMA sanctioned a hhigh-profile business in the same way as they have done for commission cartels.

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  8. Malcolm Egerton

    This article goes into some depth: http://www.helphound.info/2020/01/taking-trust-out-of-trustpilot.html. It would also be good to know why PB is using Feefo as well as Trustpilot?

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  9. GeorgeOrwell

    The 1st Review ever ?
     
    Adam said to Eve – “So, were you happy with the experience?
     
    Eve “Yes, 5*”  
     
    Ask the same question a few months down the line    
     
     

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  10. GeorgeOrwell

    And for political correctness the aforementioned post can also be read as –

     

    “Eve said to Adam”

     

    Back then however there were no other “Gender Options”

     

     

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  11. PeeBee

    “You can see here, that of the 42 reviews reported by allAgents 11 have been put back online and 31 have currently been removed from the platform.”

    That is in the last 12 months.  42 reviews “reported” – almost 75% of them deemed to be justified.

    Interestingly, according to the same stats page, there have only been 14 reviews posted in the same period.

    The industry know fine well that review sites in general are easier to manipulate – and possibly even easier to buy – than plasticine.

    The public however are often suckered in – and this must be addressed.

    Those that buck the system should be outed and fully deserve the consequences.

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      If anyone knows of a business that is a) selectively inviting happy customers to write reviews or b) sending the invitation to review before the transaction is complete or c) using Trustpilot as a way of gating reviews to Google (Gating: using a mechanism to establish what kind of review a customer is likely to write – customer surveys are often used for this – and then only inviting those that indicate that they are happy to write a review – mostly to Google) – then report them to the CMA, which will be bound to take action.

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  12. LogicR

    A cursory look at the allagents page on Trustpilot and it looks like they are hosting reviews that are about agents rather than the site?

     

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    1. PeeBee

      LogicR

      There is only one review that should be attributed to the Agent and not AllAgents themselves.

      There are far more from Agents who are aggrieved at AllAgents business practices.

      There are also a couple of extremely suspect “reviews” on there.  Take this one for instance, from “Terry”

      “I tried reviewing a good working estate agent via All agents, surprisingly my good review never went live. Later, I tried reviewing the same estate agent but with 1 star, shockingly the review went live immediately.”

      Who the chuff would do that?

      I am firmly of the opinion that reviews are a ticking timebomb that is going to worsen the image of our industry, regardless of what all the review sites and the self-titled “gurus” suggest to the contrary.

      Every good one will be deemed fake.  Every bad one won’t be bad enough – and there will be plenty of people ready, willing and able to post a worse one to trump it.

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