Monday 24 October 2022

How many more people lost their money thanks to Trustpilot?

The answer to the question posed in the headline is: we cannot know. But let's look at this dreadful saga and you can be the judge. The business was a member right up until the liquidators were called in, and only subsequent to that action, as far as we can see, did this warning appear on their listing:

Which, somewhat suprisingly, makes no mention of the fact that the business has ceased trading.

A disservice to the consumer

On the face of it, the Trustpilot 'quarantine' mechanism, which allows businesses to challenge reviews - and it's overwhelmingly negative reviews that businesses challenge - is attractive. To businesses. After all, what business wants their sales and enquiries adversely impacted by a low score and critical 1* reviews? 

And it wouldn't - in theory - harm costumers, except for one crucial consequence of the Trustpilot mechanism: it relies on consumers, who have already taken the trouble to write a review, providing 'proof of purchase' to Trustpilot. As you can see from the screenshot below, very few bother to respond to that request - well under 3 in a hundred. 211 mostly heavily critical reviews failed to remain on the Trustpilot site.

...and these figures are just for the last 12 months

Does this benefit the consumer? Do we need to answer that question? 

A disservice to good businesses

This takes more than one form. The first is that when the business is sold the Trustpilot package it distracts the business from concentrating on getting reviews where it really matters (and the reviews really drive clcks and calls): on Google. We see endless examples of businesses with hundreds of Trustpilot reviews - that are next to invisible in search - and a handful on Google. Here's just one example...

It beggars belief just how much better off this business would be if it hadn't focussed on Trustpilot but concentrated on Google reviews (free!) instead

The next is that as a result of businesses (ab)using its quarantine system it could be argued that Trustpilot enables 'not so great' businesses to look better than they really are. We would argue, and we think the CMA in the UK would agree, that denying the consumer the right to have their voice heard on the basis that they hadn't provided proof of purchase was borderline illegal.

We know that good review management practice will improve a business's score - our clients will see uplifts of between 0.2 and 0.5 in their Google score - but this should not involve any mechanism that denies the right of a customer to have their review published. Apart from being, in our opinion, in breach of the CMA regulations, it also has - in the case of review sites like Trustpilot - the effect of leaveing a disgruntled customer no option but to post their opinion staright to Google.

The bottom line

The company has been placed into administration. Reading many of the recent reviews it would appear that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of customers will lose the money they have paid. Just how many of those customers would have been saved from sending their hard-earned cash to Screen with Envy if some of those 211 reviews had been published by Trustpilot?

This is a question that we will never be able to answer, but if you read this review on Google, posted back in June of this year, would you have ordered?

Further reading...


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