A woman who tried to sell her home through Purplebricks posted a negative review on Trustpilot – only to have it removed.
The woman, Laura, told of her experience on BBC 5 Live Investigates yesterday.
She told presenter Adrian Goldberg that the property did not sell through Purplebricks, and that there was not a single viewing.
She said she had put up a two-star review, describing the lack of viewings.
However, her review was marked as suspicious.
She said she then received an automated email from Trustpilot asking her to produce proof that she had been a Purplebricks customer.
She said that although she produced this very quickly, “my review did not go back up until three days later”.
By this time, she said it had slipped down the order, and was “buried about five pages down”, which meant that people looking for reviews of Purplebricks would not necessarily have seen it.
Goldberg put it to Glenn Manoff, vice president of Trustpilot that “it does seem harder to get negative reviews on Trustpilot than five-star ones”.
Goldberg also raised the issue that Purplebricks pays Trustpilot .
However, Manoff said that the fact that there was a financial relationship between Trustpilot and some firms did not mean that they could manipulate their scores.
He insisted that whether there was a financial relationship or not made no difference to the kind of reviews people posted.
The programme also looked at how easy it is to buy fake reviews online. Reporter Dan Box wrote a five-star review of himself and paid £1.99 to have it posted on Truspilot – “Dan Box is one of the most respected professionals I have dealt with. It was a pleasure doing business with him”.
It was not removed until the BBC itself pointed out to Truspilot that it was fake.
Manoff said that Trustpilot removes 20,000 reviews a month and uses technology to spot fakes.
The programme also said that an estimated £23bn spend a year is influenced by reviews.
After the programme aired, review site allAgents – which has been in a long-running dispute with Purplebricks over the validity of its own reviews – renewed its call for an independent audit of both Trustpilot and allAgents reviews.
Martin McKenzie of allAgents said: “allAgents has become one of the few places disgruntled Purplebricks customers can voice their complaints, because Purplebricks are doing everything they can to kill negative reviews elsewhere.
“What’s needed is an independent audit of both the reviews of Purplebricks on allAgents, and on Trustpilot. We stand right by the validity of our reviews. It’s high time Trustpilot did the same. If they don’t agree, we can only assume it’s because they’re terrified about what an independent audit will reveal.”
Purplebricks said:“We welcomed the BBC programme into the online review industry and actively engaged with its makers throughout its planning and development. We supplied the BBC with data including the fact that in April 2018 alone we received over 1,900 reviews, requesting additional information to validate the authenticity of more four and five star reviews than one and two star reviews.
“The programme also validated the Purplebricks policy of verifying every single customer review.”
The programme can be heard via the link below.