Google Marketplace and Google Maps offer ability for customer reviews. This seems to be open to abuse and is fast becoming worthless to genuine customers. Larger companies are often the first target while smaller businesses avoid mis-use for longer. There are some instances with Skip Hire reviews that I have noted. For instance, a family Skip Hire business that has been waste recycling for over 30 years and has grown extensively on its great reputation has a review stating: “Do not trust these people. When they have your card number they will take what they like.” Now, this has been reported more than once to Google, yet it has been ignored and the review remains. Obviously this review makes statement that the Skip Hire business is thieving, committing fraud, involved in illegal activity. There is no truth in that claim whatsoever and, of course, no report made to police and certainly no charges or investigation. If the claim was genuine then surely the reviewer would contact the police?
This isn’t the only issue with reviews. Rival businesses can easily make fake comments, afterall Google accounts are free and we all have access to at least one! Since this is now widely realised it is commonly known that Skip Hire companies are leaving bad 1-star reviews, yet there isn’t any easy way to prove this and certainly, as experienced, Google aren’t interested in removing comments.
The biggest issue with reviews is the fact that you can quite easily buy them. A couple of years back it wasn’t so common and you had to go to specialist SEO providers who would assist adding fake 5 star reviews, with the cost being relatively high. Nowadays you can simply buy on auction sites for very low cost. There are numerous websites that offer this kind of help and it certainly is not being policed by Google, they aren’t actively stopping their name being used in advertising of these fraud offerings.
Well I don’t believe anything will change in the near future. We all have friends that could easily be asked for the odd review comment here and there. Skip Hire companies have the advertising budget to buy many highly positive reviews and perhaps the odd detrimental claim on a rivals reviews. Customers are becoming wise and the whole review system is becoming worthless. Genuine customers likely won’t even bother commenting anymore. This doesn’t just apply to Google, as the same applies in all the large online places that people visit; Facebook, Yell, Thomson Local, Trip Advisor, Trust Pilot, plus various Directories & Trust listings.