Monday, 16 May 2022

A lesson for every business

This article appeared in today's Times:

Here's the full article

Don't worry if you cannot burrow through the Times' paywall, we'll highlight the salient points here.

Those of us that have lived and breathed online reviews for the last two decades find it intriguing that we are still encountering businesses in such volume that are making such fundamental errors when managing their interaction of reviews of all kinds. But there are - and they do. Hence this article.




Two key points straight away:  

Dreading the ping of review alerts

Sure. If the business has no proactive review strategy in place they'd be right to dread that ping. We looked at the Saracen's Head's Google reviews (after all, very few potential customers get past Google reviews if there are enough - we tend to define 'enough' as 100 minimum -  and the Saracen's head has plenty) and we can see that they are almost certainly asking customers for reviews - you don't generally get north of 300 and a score of 4.5+ without asking. 

 


 

So what are they not doing? They're not responding to reviews.

'Why respond?' we hear some of you ask. You respond because responding has three important effects:

    1. It shows potential customers reading the review (believe us, they will!) that the business cares.
    2. It allows the business the opportunity - for free - to address the issue(s) raised.
    3. It gives future reviewers pause before they 'over-egg' their complaint. If they know they will get a response they will either decide that their complaint is not important enough to write a review at all or that they will be more careful with their star rating (instead of simply plumping for 1*).

Please don't say 'We haven't the time' - we estimate a considered response to a review takes less than 5 minutes - surely worth the time for a business that 'dreads the ping of a negative review' and the 'immediate impact on team morale'.

Impact on team morale

Pete and his team should be - and undoubtedly are - proud of the service they provide to their customers, across all four of their venues. But Pete is also right to highlight the impact a negative review can have on staff morale. 

The opposite is also true: staff positively glow when they see a 5* review (businesses that have no proactive review management strategy please note). Get reviews flowing* and your staff will thank you.

*all research proves that companies that ask for reviews score considerably higher than those that don't. This is not rocket science: happy customers rarely write a review unless asked while unhappy customers are far more likely to, so asking customers to write review works!

 



Just in case any readers still doubt that reviews have impact. There's also a case history here where a single negative review literally stopped the phones ringing at a firm of solicitors. They took the reviewer to court - something we would strongly advise against - but were able to prove to the judge, and therefore the world - that the review had cost them a quantifiable amount of money. Pete Dale's restaurants have few negative reviews, but he would far rather there were none, for good financial reasons.


Fake reviews and regulation




The fact that businesses - some businesses - are willing to pay for fake reviews shows just how powerful reviews and review scores are. Why would a business resort to such behaviour? We can hear readers saying 'My business would never do that' but we have a file full of examples - and you might be surprised at some of the names. Why do otherwise respectable and law-abiding businesses break the law?

Best define 'the law' first:

1.  By law, if a business invites any customers at all to write reviews, anywhere at all, it must allow all of its customers to write a review. It cannot choose which customers to allow to write a review.

2.  Nor can it control the timing. Using a system that only allows customers to write a review when asked to do so by the business is illegal.

3.  Using any mechanism to establish which customers will be most likely to write a positive review is also illegal. Examples include using an email customer satisfaction questionnaire or a less visible review site (we see examples of companies using review sites to gather reviews and then only inviting those who rate them five stars to post a review to Google - if we can see them, so can the regulators - the CMA in the UK).

4.  Buying, or in any way encouraging 'fake' reviews is now illegal in the UK. That includes asking 'friends and family' or others that have not directly experienced the product or service the business is selling to write reviews. It is also against Google Terms of Service; Google will delete all the reviews of any business found doing this.

Businesses are, quite understandably, very wary of reviews; they know that good reviews will drive business but they also know that negative reviews can harm business. That's why - in a nutshell, that a huge number of businesses flout one or more of the laws above. So what are businesses to do, given that...




The next business referenced in the Times article is The CheeseGeek...



Now we fully appreciate that one man's 'torrent' is another's trickle, so let's look at the numbers (on Google* - because that's the place most of their potential customers will be looking):

                  • 5 star: 37
                  • 4 star: 1
                  • 3 star: 1
                  • 2 star: 1
                  • 1 star: 16
*The issue here is one of misdirected resources: the CheeseGeek has over a thousand reviews on their website, almost all of them complimentary, but they have failed to realise that the place they need to be inviting customers to review them is on Google. If only ten percent of those customers who had left a review on their website went on to copy it to Google then their score would be safely nudging 4.5.


And this doesn't only apply to restaurants and online retail, far from it, it is far more important that professional and service businesses in the medical, financial, legal and related spheres look impeccable in search.


Here's a four step plan...

1.  Invite reviews on your website - like this...



2.  Have those reviews moderated before they're published

Moderation is the act of reading the review - it's done by a real human being, not a bot - before it's published to ensure that it is, as far as practically possible...

  • factually accurate (no one benefits from reading factually inaccurate reviews, not the business, not the consumer reading - and relying on - the review, and certainly not the reviewer)
  • it contains nothing that may have the potential to mislead the reader
  • personal abuse or anything of an illegal nature (you might be surprised...)
This is probably the single most important function we perform. As you can imagine, it's impossible for a business to moderate its own reviews - all credibility would be lost; moderation takes 99 percent of the fear out of reviews - because that fear is generated by the contents of the three bullet points above.

3. Get as many of them across to Google as you can

  • we suggest a target of one in two, because we know it's achievable. If you look at the example above, Winkworth Blackheath have 241 reviews on their own site and152 reviews on Google...



4. Respond to them all - see above.


In summary

If you have read this article you will know 90% of what any business needs to know to succeed with reviews. The other 10% is contained in this blog and consists or advice, for instance, to focus all you efforts on Google reviews and to avoid review websites at all costs. Just use the box above to interrogate the blog or, even simpler, pick up the phone and dial 020-7100 2233 and ask to speak to one of us.

 

 

Friday, 13 May 2022

Trustpilot - and again!





And here's the business in question's listing on Trustpilot - today...



Now, are we the only people that think that if you have cause to think - enough cause to initiate legal action - that if the company in question is playing fast and loose with your review platform its listing should be suspended altogether?

This business is suspected of gaming its reviews, so what does Trustpilot do - aside from (apparently) sue it?
  • It leaves 111 of its reviews up on the site
  • It maintains the business's rating at 'Excellent'
  • It continues to prominently display the business's 5* Trustpilot rating
Euro Resales also does well on Reviews.io...



And Yell...



But, interestingly has achieved the near impossible with Google - no reviews and no knowledge panel at all...



This is what 2.2 million UK businesses look like in Google search...



So, why no knowledge panel (the box on the right) and no reviews, let alone a 'Write a review' button (bottom right)? A business would normally have to adopt some pretty strenuous reverse SEO to achieve that ('reverse SEO' being defined as 'extra effort to be invisible to Google').

In conclusion

Regular readers will not be surprised that we have question marks over Trustpilot's action - again. There is no reason for any business to prefer Trustpilot reviews over Google's (which are free) - except that Trustpilot appears to be quite helpful in making it tiresome for consumers to get negative reviews of businesses published (see below). We know that the CMA have issues surrounding this, we just wish they would act.


Further reading

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Trustpilot - again?


Here's the full article in the Investor's Chronicle. Madeleine Taylor at the IC has hit the nail on the head, but there's more to Trustpilot's woes than just consumer trust in the platform.


Forgive us! But as a review platform that prides itself on the integrity of the reviews it hosts for our clients, believing that the veracity of a business's reviews is a direct reflection of the business's own ethics, it is essential that we return - again - to the subject of Trustpilot and the inherent weaknesses in its business model.


Too far, too fast

Wouldn't it be great if someone could design some software and an algorithm that would invite, host and display reviews of any given business without human involvement?

That's effectively what Trustpilot has attempted to do. And here are some of the reasons why it has failed...

  • fake reviews: these are the headline-grabbers. A quick web search will throw up a multitude of individuals and businesses - mostly offshore - that will write 'reviews' for a fee. Until recently you could even buy reviews on eBay. Only a trained moderator stands a chance of spotting a fake review.
  • fraudulent reviews: many businesses, realising the harm a single negative review can do, will panic and write their own reviews. We have on file an example of a London estate agent where its branch managers all agreed to write reviews of their neighbouring branches. Again, only a skilled moderator will spot this kind of activity.
  • irrelevant reviews: when you are looking for reviews of a product then the odd review mentioning the efficiency of the delivery company may be helpful, but dozens?
  • factually inaccurate reviews: consumers rely on reviews (recent surveys estimate over 90% of purchases are made after reading them). Before any reader thinks 'but we all take them with a pinch of salt' imagine relying on an inaccurate or fraudulent review when choosing a financial adviser or an oncologist.
  • potentially misleading reviews: reviewers get the wrong end of the stick, all businesses know that, but if there is a method of ensuring that the absolute minimum of misleading reviews see the light of day then surely everyone benefits? It's called moderation and it works.
  • language: no computer can come close to understanding colloquial written English (or any other language). No-one but a human moderator will be able to ensure that reviews are accurate and helpful for those reading them. Even then the moderator may need to contact the reviewer to establish exactly what they meant. 
  • sales-driven: when you have institutional and private equity shareholders breathing down your neck and needing profits for their investors - now! - it is almost understandable that you are going to design a 'product' that is as easy as possible to sell. And as 'user-friendly' to the businesses you are going to be selling to as possible. While there is no argument that a business that is proactive with regard to reviews will attract more positive reviews (and therefore a higher score) it is important that the business is advised to do so in the arena that will benefit the business most. That arena is Google, not Trustpilot.
  • trumped by Google: Google does everything Trustpilot does, and more - and for free! Product reviews? Yes. Business reviews? Yes. Service reviews? Yes. Some might argue that Trustpilot's reporting/dashboard is superior, but at what cost in terms of £$ and in lost profile (see below)?
  • lack of visibility: Trustpilot reviews are only returned low down in organic search, while Google reviews are returned at the head of every search, every time. No contest.


A note on moderation...

Moderation - the act of a human being reading a review, pre-publication, to ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that the contents of the review are factually accurate and not likely to mislead a consumer, is expensive. It cannot be done by a computer, however sophisticated, and therefore salaries have to be paid. 

Luckily Google reviews are free, leaving businesses with only one expense providing they don't engage another review provider: moderation. When moderation is combined with software that enables the business to invite reviews to its own website (and display them there) then on to Google, as it is in the case of HelpHound, then the business has the best of both worlds:
  • moderated reviews showing on Google



and...

  • those same reviews* showing on their own website...



as well as...
  • leading local search...



The reviews and star rating in the Google Maps 3-pack are the business's Google reviews, the reviews and star rating in organic search are taken, by Google, direct from the reviews on the business's own website.

*some of you will have spotted that the business in question has more reviews on its own website (241) than it does on Google (152). That is because every person who writes a review to the business's website (allowing us to moderate it) then receives an automated invitation to copy their review to Google. For all kinds of reasons - missed the email, couldn't be bothered, concern about privacy - not everyone will do so. But, as you can see in this example, quite enough have.


It's not just us!

If all you did was read the HelpHound blog you might get the impression that we have a bit of a one-man crusade against Trustpilot. One glance at the chart that follows will show that we are not alone...



And finally: our advice...

If your business sells products: get the Google widget, embed it in your website and invite customers to review you there. You will get the odd 'random' review but not so many that you need moderation. It won't cost you a penny.

If your business sells a service/services, be that financial, medical, legal or any other (such as the estate agents above): adopt a moderated solution to ensure that reviews don't do it unfair harm. It will almost certainly cost you less than a Trustpilot subscription but your reviews will be credible and visible in the right places: on your website and on Google/in Google searches.


Further reading...




Wednesday, 30 March 2022

HelpHound - why it is the only option for professional businesses

In spite of our fifteen+ years of experience working - full time - with reviews, our exhaustive knowledge of Google and the likes of Trustpilot, Yelp, Feefo, Reviews.io, TripAdvisor, Reputation.com and the rest, and - even more puzzling - the amazing case histories (link in the first paragraph of 'Do reviews drive revenue?' below) we still, frequently enough to have us write this article, encounter responses along the lines of 'No, we are doing [insert current ineffective or often downright illegal strategy] and we're going to stick with it.'

We know it's only human to be defensive when you have invested time, energy and resources into a solution, even if that solution can be proven to be deficient (remember just how many people persisted in buying Vauxhalls or Lancias back in the day when the whole world - from friends to the motoring press - was telling them, time and again, that they would be driving a worthless rust-bucket in a few years' time?).

The role of this article is to calmly work through the solutions that don't work or are likely to endanger a business's reputation - or are just plain illegal, so you can make a rational and reasoned decision for your business.


First: do reviews drive revenue?

If you have already experienced the power of positive reviews to drive up clicks and calls then skip this section and begin again at 'Benefits are measurable'. 

With well over 90% of consumers consulting reviews before they purchase a product or service, reviews - and professional review management - are not a 'cost'. They are most definitely a profit-generator - for those businesses that are prepared to put in the effort and overcome the 'fear'. 

A business scoring over 4.5 on Google with over 100 reviews will attract more clicks and calls than a business scoring less with fewer reviews. Read these case histories and you will see exactly what we mean. Great reviews and great scores lead directly to...

  • increases in enquiries, both through a business's website (providing reviews are hosted and shown there) and through Google. This can easily be quantified by reference to the business's Google My Business monthly report which will show you the uplift in clicks and phone calls through Google search. 
  • greatly enhanced SEO: we are constantly asked 'How does XYZ HelpHound client consistently appear at or near the top in any given Google search?' The answer is complex and shrouded in mystery (it's Google's 'Coke formula'), but Google tells us that it gives significant SEO credit to businesses that host reviews - proper reviews, not testimonials - on their own websites.




Benefits that are measurable

Cost - as we all know - is only relevant when viewed in the context of benefit. Fortunately, Google sends every business on the planet a monthly report that tells it exactly how many enquiries - click-throughs and phone calls - it has had as a result of Google searches in the last month. Again, here's a complete article on results here, but this screenshot of a business's uplift in both clicks and calls after joining HelpHound really says it all...




18 per cent more calls and 27% more clicks for less than £200 a month (much less if you have multiple branches)? 


Now on to the various solutions available to businesses...

Google - direct

Great. Spot on. Google reviews are it. Way ahead of anyone else's. Unless your business is vulnerable to the occasional inaccurate or misleading review. The business world is divided into three categories...

  • those that are impervious to online reviews: the likes of your mobile phone provider, utility companies or banks. They'll carry on trading irrespective. Here's an example we all know of...



Ticketmaster is just about as impervious to negative reviews as a business could be 

  • those where the business - often selling products as opposed to services - recognises that it needs to score 4 out of 5, but that's enough. Online retail is a good example: if someone is buying a shirt and it scores 4 out or 5 they will still buy it. Less than 4 and they will probably look for a better rated product.


Boden will no doubt shrug at a score of 3.0 on Trustpilot. A similar score for a doctor or a solicitor on Google would almost certainly close them down, from the point-of-view of search-generated business anyway

  • Professional services, where consumers are looking for as close to perfection as is reasonable. We know, from hard experience over many years, that a Google score of over 4.5 is crucial for the likes of medical, financial, legal or 'large ticket' services - estate agency being another obvious example. Please read the following review carefully...




This law firm had enough evidence to convince a judge to make a five-figure damages award as a result of the impact of this single negative review. 

And their image on Google must be doing them significant harm as well...




Just look at this single critical review on Google:


And now note just how many people have voted it 'helpful'


Note for those still thinking 'negative reviews can't harm my business': The five figure award was made because the firm of solicitors were able to provide concrete proof of declines in both telephone enquiries and clicks though to their website subsequent to the publication of the critical review on Trustpilot sufficient to convince a judge sitting in an English court of the fall in revenue it had experienced. Given that Trustpilot reviews are only visible to those actively searching for them and Google reviews are seen by just about anyone searching for the business in question we don't feel that we are exaggerating in saying that a negative review on Goggle is going to do at least ten times the damage that a similar review on Trustpilot has been proven - to a court's satisfaction - to have been done here. The full story is here.


Businesses in the last category - professional and services -  need to combine Google reviews with a moderated system whereby the client or patient is first invited to post the review to the business's own website, where it can be checked for factual inaccuracies or the potential to mislead pre-publication; only then is the reviewer asked to copy their review to Google. It is also nice to know that this helps with SEO and ranking in local search. 

Breaking the law

This is the biggie: most businesses don't understand the UK law as it relates and applies to reviews and those that do misunderstand the consequences of breaching it.

The law

Is quite straightforward: the following three actions are expressly forbidden...

    • selectively inviting customers to write a review. Any business proactively inviting reviews must be able to prove that any customer is able to write a review at any time of their choosing
    • showing selected reviews on the business's website
    • 'gating': using a mechanism - which might be a 'customer survey' or another less visible review site - to establish which customers are most likely to write a positive review and then inviting only those to do so

        The consequences

    • the less obvious, but potentially just as harmful: the fact that any of the three illegal activities listed above will be obvious to any savvy competitor; they are then almost certain to use that information in competitive pitches 'Yes, their reviews are wonderful aren't they? But we're bound to tell you they are that way because they are illegally acquired/filtered. Do you really want to be dealing with a business that flouts the law?'
    • and in the case of gating: this is expressly against Google's Terms of Service as well. Google will simply delete all the reviews of any business it considers to be gating. And there will be no appeal


Review sites



The fact that Trustpilot's share price is now over 70 percent down from its peak of 449p in only six months (against a market that has risen 6%) shows just what investment professionals think of its prospects. By deflecting client businesses' efforts away from Google it is doing them a long-term disservice.

This article was published here on our blog four years ago. And it wasn't the first time we warned businesses against using, let alone paying for, a review site. The review site gets all your lovely client data in exchange for what? Giving you a star rating that's far less credible or influential than a free Google one.

Yet we see them everywhere. How so? Simply because they predate Google reviews (there would have been no review sites if Google hadn't been so late to see the power of reviews). Also: they have salesforces who are trained to maximise the wafer-thin benefits of these sites and minimise the power of Google reviews. But just perform any simple search - on your own business or any other - and what do you see?

Google reviews. End of.

So: if your business falls into the first two categories you just need a Google widget on your website and then invite customers to post directly to Google.

If you are a professional or service business you will need a moderated but Google-focussed system that gets reviews - your own - to your own website and then get as many as possible of those across to Google. Like this...



240 here, then...




...151 to Google (note the extracts appearing in the Google rich snippets at bottom right and the original reviews hosted on their own website showing alongside their organic listing at top left). Then the all important local search...



...where they lead both the Google 3-pack and natural (organic) search.  

Review aggregators

What a great idea. What could possibly go wrong? For clarity, review aggregators scour the web for any reviews of your business and then present them on your website for potential customers to see. Fine, until you realise that there's no safety net. No way of moderating what is being written or said before it's published front and centre. That's fine if you are an online retailer and people are looking for you to score 4 out of 5 before they order your shirts or socks (one review site was even founded by such a business) but potentially hugely damaging for a professional business providing easily misunderstood complex services to clients or patients.




We wonder just how long before this one-star review - fed through by an aggregator - was noticed by the business? All we do know is the business in question is no longer using the aggregator.

And another...



We stress that both these screenshots were taken from the front page of each business's own website. And guess what? They're no longer there. Review aggregators don't work for high value and/or complex service and professional businesses.


Time and human resources

When we speak to our clients they tell us that once they have embedded review management into their daily routines they simply don't notice the time taken to look as good as they do. Most mention the fact that they find the exercise hugely rewarding from a management and staff morale point-of-view. And when they have experiences such as this...




...any thought of time or effort vanishes into thin air.


In conclusion...

If your business falls into any of the following categories:

  1. Yet to actively engage with online reviews - from fear of the consequences or just because you have been meaning to but just haven't got around to it.
  2. Engaged in the past but had a negative experience - a harmful review on Google or any other site, for example.
  3. Already inviting clients* to post direct to Google but are aware of the risks that this entails.
  4. Already inviting clients* to post to a review site, but concerned that you may be missing out on the power and credibility of Google reviews.
  5. Cherry-picking or gating - sometimes euphemistically called 'selecting' and 'pre-qualifying' but nonetheless illegal - to ensure your online reputation is protected (don't worry, you're not the only ones, but you will sleep a whole lot easier once you have adopted a legally compliant solution).
You owe it to yourself and your business to, at the very least, take the first step in the direction of a professionally managed review system; call us and we'll talk you through all the implications for your business** and answer all your questions


*Note 1: we use the term 'clients' here advisedly. If your business has 'customers' and you sell those customers 'products' - as opposed to some kind of service, be it financial, medical or legal (or a hybrid of those such as estate agency or recruitment) - we will still be able to add value, but HelpHound was specifically designed to enable professional and service businesses to enage - compliantly - with reviews.

**Note 2: each business is different, and therefore each solution must be tailored. Review sites tend to operate on a 'one widget suits all' basis. They also tend to be 'sales heavy' and light on ongoing customer service: something that we at HelpHound pride ourselves on.

Our objective is to only have clients where we can add value - right to their bottom lines - so we have no incentive at all to take on a business where we are unable to do that.

Monday, 7 March 2022

Trustpilot: yet another question

 




This article appeared today. So we had a look at the listing it refers to:




And then we checked the underlying reviews by score:



Which raised a wholly different question: how on earth does a business that has 43 percent of its reviews scoring 'Bad' (rated the lowest: one star) get a 4-star rating from Trustpilot with the accompanying accolade of 'Great'?

What we can tell you is that based on the spread of reviews shown above, both HelpHound and Google would score the business at 3.2, giving a Trustpilot rating of 'Average'. 

Trustpilot, in their explanation of their scoring system state as follows:


We would comment on each of these bullet points:

  • Weighting more recent reviews. We would recommend that any review system that is going to stray from an unweighted mathematical calculation completely discount reviews that are over three years old; part of the point of reviews is that businesses should learn from them and therefore consumers should be given a snapshot of the business as it currently is, not skewed by ancient reviews. In the case of OnTheMarket, they have received 11 five-star reviews and 8 one-star reviews since 1 January 2022; any 'weighting' would struggle to find a positive outcome from those stats.
  • Frequency. We have no argument in principle, but the basis of calculation or weighting should be clear. We have no clue what the sentence 'Because the most recent review holds more weight, a TrustScore will be more stable if reviews are coming in regularly.' means.
  • Bayesian average. Fortuitously one of our directors used to work at HM Treasury and so is familiar with Bayesian averages. He has explained that these are usually used to smooth statistical subsets; he says that the application of a Bayesian average cannot explain why a business that should be scoring 3.2 might suddenly score 3.8. For those of a mathematical bent here is the Wikipedia entry for Bayesian averages.

Here's their star rating and 'Excellent/Great/Good/Average/Poor/Bad' matrix:




Which illustrates the difficulty - for the consumer - inherent in such a system. Any business scoring in the range 3.8 - 4.2 is 'labelled' 'Great'. Seriously? Such a business is likely to be rated at 1* by at least twenty percent of its customers (Bayesian average or not). Would you use a doctor/lawyer/financial adviser where one in five of their customers rated them one star, bearing in mind a business cannot be rated 0 stars?

Last, but not least, this:



We have no argument with the last line, but the rest? Really? Well, yes, in the case of Trustpilot. Businesses paying Trustpilot do score better than those that don't. But that's the same with any review system - businesses that are passive invariably pick up 1* reviews from unhappy customers as they are so much more motivated. HelpHound clients invariably score 4.5+ but that's because they are excellent businesses with dedicated CRM. But, as all our regular readers know, we advise our clients to focus their efforts on their own websites and Google - in other words, where their reviews will be seen.


In Conclusion

It's best to let consumers read reviews and make up their own minds, by reading the individual reviews in conjunction with an 'unmanipulated' score, as to whether the business is good or not.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Trustpilot sues a business for posting fake reviews



The last time Trustpilot took action against a business it was for the business in question suing - successfully - a Trustpilot reviewer/customer (there's an excellent article by a qualified solictor here and our own analysis of the action and impact here). Trustpilot suspended law firm Summerfield Browne's listing in February last year and it remains suspended as we write; no more reviews, frozen in time, but still appearing on Trustpilot's website, over a year later




And goodness knows how many times that 1* review has been seen since (it's obviously written by the person in the lawsuit); it's been voted 'useful' 145 times - and we use a 1:20 rule of thumb - if one person votes for a review, you can be sure at least another 19 have read it, so that makes another 2,755 people who were looking for a solicitor who may well have been put off contacting the firm by this review).

We're not sure how fair this is, on the law firm or on consumers. 

But back to the latest case. here's what the business's Trustpilot listing looks like today:




We have some questions for Trustpilot:

  1. How did they identify the fake reviews?
  2. How did they decide which reviews to delete and which should remain?
  3. Why have they not suspended the business's account in the same way as they have suspended Summerfield Browne's?
  4. How do they propose to prove that the business is 'soliciting fake reviews'?
That answer to that last question will be interesting. We often see what we suspect to be fake reviews, all over the web, but 'suspecting' and 'proving in a court of law' are vastly different matters.

We will be following this story closely. And we'll report to you when we har anything more. Meanwhile, our advice to you all remains the same: focus on Google, get Google reviews compliantly (don't cherry-pick or gate) and build your reputation there, where all your potential customers are looking, not on review sites.