HelpHound has been at the forefront of review management for so long now, we thought we had seen every way in which a business might seek to 'game' the system (for 'game the system' read 'break the law', for that is exactly what they are doing).
Just to put everyone in the picture, and before we go on to describe this new shocker, let's catch up with the common compliance breaches every regular reader will be familiar with...
By far the most common transgression, almost every business we meet with is - or has been - guilty of this to some extent or another (that doesn't make it any more legitimate - or legal): it involves asking selected customers to post a review - and it's in contravention of the CMA core rules - if a business asks one customer to write a review, anywhere, it must enable all its customers to do so.
Gating takes many forms, but all have the same effect: they give consumers a skewed picture of the business. How? The business in question invites all its customers to write a review (so far so compliant) - which could be to their website or to a little-known (and little seen) reviews site - and then asks only those who write five star reviews to post them to a site that really matters - commonly Google. We probably don't need to tell you that this is contrary to CMA regulations - but we have several examples on file here at HelpHound.
The new kid on the block
This latest example has taken both the above and added a whole new layer of non-compliance. We have not given it a name because it so shockingly contravenes all regulations, Google T&Cs, the CMA rules and the common law that we don't want to trivialise it by doing so.
It involves doing all of the above and then posting the review to Google 'on behalf of the consumer' - by opening a new Google account in the customer's name and then posting the review that has been sent in by email or posted elsewhere.