Selectively flagging only negative reviews is, therefore, a highly effective method of increasing the average rating of the business.
Most of the businesses selling reviews make little effort to cover their tracks. They often post under a name uncommon in the UK, write short reviews comprised mostly of complimentary adjectives and are likely to have published only one review under the same user account. Fake reviews also tend to be posted in batches, with a disproportionate number of 5-star reviews posted on the same day.
“Hello Content Integrity Team,
Write Your review
Regarding the positive reviews on [this company] our initial investigation in response to outreach from Watchdog has identified suspicious patterns. We are therefore conducting a fuller investigation now.
Since the page went live, our technology and systems have filtered 12 reviews, recognised as being fake or spam. This amounts to 57 percent of all reviews written – both positive and negative reviews that violate our rules.
The CMA is continuing to engage with companies operating in the online review and endorsements sectors regarding concerns set out in its call for information report. It is our intention to update on this work by the end of August 2016.
- fake reviews being posted onto review sites
- negative reviews not being published
- businesses paying for endorsements in blogs and other online articles without this being made clear to consumers
At the time of writing, Purplebricks UK has racked up over 69,000 reviews on Trustpilot, the most popular review website for companies and services in the UK. An impressive 89 per cent of those achieve the top rung of Trustpilot’s five-point rating system: excellent. Seven per cent are great, one per cent average, one per cent poor and three per cent bad – that’s more than 66,000 positive reviews.
One popular method used, according to another former Purplebricks agent who spoke on condition of anonymity, is sending out review templates to fill. “There are many templates made by [Purplebricks’] local property experts that ask for a review and copy in the link,” the agent says, adding that during Purplebricks’ two-week training, “you are encouraged to ask for reviews.”