Last fall InsiderPages.com put a price, on dollar, on what they were willing to pay for local business reviews. I stumbled on this when yesterday morning Google injected some very critical reviews of my auto mechanic onto a map page. I was checking if I’d found the right phone number.
These reviews were bad enough to trigger my calling two other mechanics. They couldn’t take my car until next week.
Finally I went back to look at the reviews. They were weird. They complained about the prices my guy charges for food and refered to some newspaper article about his his bad behavior. They were totally bogus! He doesn’t sell food and my area papers are far too business friendly to ever write such an article.
The reviews Google subscribed to came from Insider Pages. Looking up auto mechanics I could see that they, amazingly, had one and only one review for every mechanic in town. That’s not how community generated content looks.
When I signed up to write a counter review I was prompted for a promotion code and that lead me web pages showing their promotion last fall.
This kind of slander could destroy a small business and it should be criminal. Insider pages knowing paid people to create fraudulent reviews and given the statistics of the reviews I say they made no effort manage the problem. Google’s authority only magnifies the crime. I presume it would be a piece of cake for some lawyer to find a thousand businesses slandered like my auto mechanic has been and bring suit against the various parties in this example. Something more severe than letting the market punish them is appropriate.
This is the dark side of social networking (talent scrapping) sites. Get the talent to commit the crimes you need committed. It’s the social networking site owner as troll. In the worst case the business is looking for a way to force, i.e. blackmail, the local businesses into participating at the site. Angie’s List has been accused of that.
I’m writing on behalf of Insider Pages as we do care a great deal about the quality and accuracy of content on our site. We’ve put more processes in place since those original promotions to catch fraudulent reviews and we do also rely on concerned users, such as yourself, to help report abuse when you come across examples that still remain on the site. If you could send us a link to the review of your mechanic (email@example.com) we will investigate it right away and also make sure that it’s removed from our feed to Google. Thanks in advance for your help!
Well Anne that’s just not sufficient. Providing a one off way to opt out of the slander doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t even come close. The only acceptable response is to take down the vast majority of the reviews you collected until such time you can find a way to get a handle on your quality control.
For the majority of the reviews collected during the promotions, the company did have people screening them for quality control and we continue to have processes to go back through to check on content. If you do wish to follow-up on the issue of the mechanic, we would welcome and appreciate that input.
I have been fraudulently slandered as a small business. I am a dentist building my practice and these things really hurt me and my family. When I read the negative review I was shocked and went back through all my records to find out what may have happened. After reviewing my entire 2007 appointment book, there was no possibility that the situation described could have occurred. I feel insiderpages.com is doing a great injustice to people like me.
I agree that Insiderpages and other similar “review” sites are the most worthless thing out there. They are nothing but forums for disgrunted customers, disgruntled ex-employees, and ruthless competitors to slander legimtimate small businesses ran by hard working people. I owned a small business that I put my heart and soul into in order to satisfy my customers. But, as the saying goes, you cannot make everyone happy all the time. These rare unhappy customers then go searching for a way to lash out and harm the very business that bent backwards for them; they post ugly comments on sites that do not allow any way for the business owners to respond to. I would like someone to set up a site that allows business owners to post comments about nasty customers so that other local businesses can avoid conducting business with these people. There is no way, however, that such a thing would be tollerated–the first customer who saw their name on such a site would sue in a heartbeat. Yet small business owners are required to just tolerate rediculous slander…